Monday, April 28, 2003

Blogging: Quantity vs. Quality?

Voltaire famously corresponded with the potentates and literati of all Europe, and still managed to write brilliant plays, write even more brilliant novels, and speak possibly the best French ever.

However, the rest of us need to make choices. The impressive but not-Voltaire-quality William Gibson has recently decided to give up blogging.

Neal Stephenson, whom I hereby predict will become exponentially more famous over the next 20 years, has all but foresworn correspondence in order to concentrate on his longer-form, more-structured writing.

Blogging (particularly the near-real-time, stream-of-consciousness variant most practiced at present) is clearly way out on one end of the bell curve of quantity/rapidity vs. quality. That's fine, in and of itself; but where does the value of information and communication lie, and what is the appropriate context for blogging? Some great works happen because of their timeliness; others take decades of strenous effort. Now that we have the ability, with the Internet, of linking and organizing many (or all?) sorts of information, we need to think about *how* we're going to do that -- for the first time since, oh, the invention of libraries and bookshelves.

That's a big task. Any ideas?

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