Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Of storage systems and form ...

One of the problems facing anyone who wants to blog is how to find the time. Obviously, successful bloggers have found solutions to that problem. But those of us just starting out have to find our own. Here's mine:
Most days I walk to work. It's a distance of 2.2 miles and takes about 35 minutes. A lot of ideas come to me then -- most of them, naturally, having something to do with my job -- and I've decided to make note of them on this blog when I come in.
The idea that hit me today -- and it hit me, actually, before I even left the house -- is that books, first and foremost, are a storage system. Before we had books, we had scrolls. And now, thanks to computers, we're back scrolling again. But, like a lot of people, I find find scrolling through and reading large chunks of prose on a computer screen tiring. I think that's why blog posts that are short and to the point work better than longer ones.
This made me think that the nature of the storage system must have some bearing on the form of the writing. And it leads me to suspect that a new form of the essay is already evolving out of the practice of blogging. In Vienna, around the turn of the last century, there was a writer whose style was ideally suited to blogging. His name was Peter Altenberg. I'll have more to say about him in a subsequent post.


  1. Altenberg sounds interesting. Thanks for the recommendation.

    I think people's willingness to read on screen will change as the technology improves. Already screens are much better than they used to be. Eventually we'll have real "electronic paper" that will be both comfortable to read and lightweight.

  2. You're probably right. I planned on doing more on Altenberg tonight, but it's late and I'm beat -- spent an hour in the dentist's chair today.

  3. It's really depressing to me that you're *mumble* years older than me and get tons more exercise! Good for you!

    As to storage systems, I agree with you, Frank, that reading a book on a screen is impossible (at least for me). I'm with derikb, though, in believing that things will change once we get electronic paper.