Daily Operations: The Weblog

By Jouke Kleerebezem, 10 April 2001
Image: Easyeverything Ltd. ©2001

Over the last eventful decade, the fledgling World Wide Web of the early 1990s has faded into distant memory. Jouke Kleerebezem thinks a daily session of ‘weblogging’ can keep many of its original promises alive.

When Tim Berners-Lee ‘invented’ the World Wide Web over ten years ago, he designed his publishing system to enhance and preserve corporate memory. At Geneva based CERN (Centre Européenne pour la Recherche Nucléaire), a constant flux of knowledge, expertise and invention needed capturing and structuring and, above all, to be made productive beyond individual functionality and task setting. Berners-Lee’s design for this purpose had to be scalable, and so it proved to be – growing beyond its particular environment, beyond any size ever imagined by its inventor, exploding into the hosting Internet. The Web was conceived neither to carry Amazon or Napster, nor as a model for a new economy or the multi-channel ‘television’ it has come to be. The near real time communication most people use it for today is to a large extent their own invention.

Artist Michael Samyn once turned around the argument that we produce for (meaning: in reply to) a new medium. With the World Wide Web Internet, he suggested, he and the rest of us got precisely what we craved. In fact, we got what we had been waiting for for too long already, uninterested as we had become in top down management, one-to-many media and the star system (to name just a few of the nasty effects of old school cultural production, the art world et al).

One development in personal publishing which remains close and true to the ‘integrated writing, link creation and browsing’ which the Web allows for, is weblogging. Known for some years, this easily acquired daily habit of taking personal notes while building a library of annotated links to special interests increased exponentially with the arrival of dedicated free software and server space like Blogger and Pitas. Journal, homepage, professional reference, news service and editorial invention platform rolled into one, weblogging is an idiosyncratic narrowcast which, for many thousands of programmers, artists, designers, editors and writers, acts as their way of paying the daily new media dues.

Weblogging, networked personal publishing, builds a landscape of interests through which multiple, possibly competing, paths can find their way. Well written, at times humourous visual and textual narrative emerges most conspicuously in cleverly designed cross-linking. However engaging an individual weblog may be, it is best read in the context of other weblogs. Actually, by not distracting from their point of departure, but rather adding to it and inviting an informed return, some weblogs come close to those idealised sites where it might actually pay off to follow links. These anti link-and-run-school weblogs tend to pick and introduce their references meticulously. Their authors expand lines of thought by anchoring them in those of peers, allowing a kind of multi-authorship to form, in dialogue. These weblogs also break free from pre-conceived ideas of repetitive production, the linear process of refining, finishing, testing and shipping a product at market-strategic intervals. In a sense, they remain forever half-products, reaching an unprojectable momentum with individual readers and for individual interests.

Finally, for a reader of weblogs, the best way to structure (and savour!) one’s own eager consumption is by producing with the pack, and start weblogging. Ultimately, in times of content abundance (like ours) the read/write/link habit – agglomerating personal interests, ideas, observations, reflections; making the private public and the public private – is appreciated for its unlimited supply of focused attention.

Jouke Kleerebezem <>

<*>Tim Berners-Lee on networked hypertext production, in Weaving the Web-the Past, Presence and Future of the World Wide Web by its Inventor, 1998, Texere, ISBN 1-58799-018-0, page 33)

CERN []Michael Samyn [] Blogger []Pitas []

Weblogs, author’s pick:Notes Quotes Provocations and Other Fair Use []Alamut []Generosity []Eatonweb portal [] []