Ich Bin Nicht Ein Blogger

by Barry Drogin

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I admire bloggers: they stay active in their area of interest, they think about it all of the time, react to it, come up with new ideas about it, and then write about it. Sometimes, when the mood hits me, I share a link or post a thought to one of the listservs I participate in, which is similar to blogging, but the subscribers are a captive audience. More often, I take a subject and attempt to write an essay about it, as I am doing now. And, as now, that subject is not something that occurred to me today, but something that I have been pondering for some time, until I finally reach some kind of mental critical mass and decide I am ready to write about it. That is certainly not blogging.

I don't think I could handle blogging. First of all, my to-do list is so extensive, and in such a perpetual state of expansion, that blogging would steal too much precious time from the things that I actually want and need to do. Secondly, my interests are too diverse to be contained within the confines of any kind of defined blog, as the unweildy and enormous size of this website, which is, for all practical purposes, at least four if not six or more websites (shall I count the ways?), proves. It scares off many a visitor, no matter how hard I try to organize it. There is so much to read here, even I don't remember everything that's here, and frequently I have to re-read my own material to refresh my memory. To add a blog would just create even more material and make it even more intimidating.

I like that Google spiders my website, and that when people find what they are looking for, they don't also encounter the feeling of a timeless blog, extending backwards and forwards into history. I hope they feel that I have put some thought into what I think belongs here, and not just posted everything I have ever written (an obsessed biographer can try to wade through the nooks and crannies of my e-mail folders and word processed correspondence - not everything is worth posting on-line).

Bloggers, on the other hand, report on their whims, their caprices, their private and public conversations, correspondences and readings. I've been known to want to share some things with others, but I try to pick my audience carefully, and, since I often bore myself, I can't imagine boring, in such a constant and continual way, a larger public by way of a blog.

One listserv I moderate, and when it is particularly quiet or seems to have become particularly boring and forgotten what it is, I may tweak it on purpose, feeling some sort of responsibility to do so. Luckily, this only happens every few months or so. I am sure a blog creates a similar feeling of responsibility in the blogger - I haven't posted in a while, my readership (oh, to have that kind of readership, imaginary or not) must be wondering why I haven't, maybe I should post about THIS. In other words, blogging goes beyond passive and active to demanding, a mouth that must be fed.

I have a 1937 copy of Bartlett's "Familiar Quotations," given to my father by his father and, in 1982, by him to me. On the first page, he writes to me, "One new idea, one thought my own, Then ever will my name be known." It doesn't appear in Bartlett's because he is quoting himself, a poem he wrote entitled "Irony." I'm not sure any of my ideas are new, or uniquely my own, but I certainly don't believe that in a lifetime I could produce a steady stream of ideas, sufficient to fill up a blog day after day, week after week. I think I subscribe more to the "one idea, developed, repeated, considered and reconsidered, beaten to death to the point of boredom" school of individual thought. If bloggers feel the same, I am better off left constrained.

This is an Internet HTML book, but it is not a "wiki." If you've never heard about it, a wiki is an Internet book that allows web surfers to edit the content of the book itself. I write this book, I edit it, I hand code it (I am archaic in my ways), I am its sole author, in those few entries which are based upon correspondence, I only reproduce my own writings, my copyrightable expression. You cannot post your praise, your disagreement, or your hate mail to my website. This book is not interactive, sorry.

So I do not blog, I am not a blogger, this is not a blog, and thank you for not thinking it is.

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Last Updated: August 4, 2007