In defense of blogs redux

Julian Dibbell on blogging and Wunderkammer. “You’re not a designer, you’re not a writer, and you’re not an editor!”

Well, no, blogger, you’re not. And therein lies your gift. Because even if it’s true the vast majority of blogs would not be missed by more than a handful of people were the earth to open up and swallow them, and even if the best are still no substitute for the sustained attention of literary or journalistic works, it’s also true that sustained attention is not what Web logs are about anyway. At their most interesting they embody something that exceeds attention, and transforms it: They are constructed from and pay implicit tribute to a peculiarly contemporary sort of wonder.

A Web log really, then, is a Wunderkammer. That is to say, the genealogy of Web logs points not to the world of letters but to the early history of museums — to the “cabinet of wonders,” or Wunderkammer, that marked the scientific landscape of Renaissance modernity: a random collection of strange, compelling objects, typically compiled and owned by a learned, well-off gentleman. A set of ostrich feathers, a few rare shells, a South Pacific coral carving, a mummified mermaid — the Wunderkammer mingled fact and legend promiscuously, reflecting European civilization’s dazed and wondering attempts to assimilate the glut of physical data that science and exploration were then unleashing.

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Found via kottke.org