September 6, 2005

Blogging about work.

Here's a letter to the editor in response to Jeremy Blachman's op-ed about why it's good that people blog about the workplace:
In "Job Posting" (Op-Ed, Aug. 31), his defense of corporate employees who blog, Jeremy Blachman writes: "Now that everyone can publish online, we can get these incredible glimpses into worlds we might otherwise never get to see. People across the world can share stories, commiserate and connect with each other. Potential employees can see beyond the marketing pitches."

There is already such a mechanism. It's called literature.

One form of content that can be very effectively delivered via literature is known as fiction, and it can be used to provide all sorts of "incredible glimpses into worlds we might otherwise never get to see," including the worlds of work.

David Sharp
Paris, Aug. 31, 2005
Who gets the better of this exchange, Blachman or Sharp? Of course, I'm going to lean to Blachman. So many reasons spring to mind. Let me jot down a few. Almost anyone, anywhere can blog. It's not limited to persons with elite literary skills. Blog posts go up instantly and can be read instantly. There are millions of blogs, full of variety, and relatively few novels can be published and kept available. You don't have to pay to read a blog. Blog posts can describe isolated details without needing to fit them into some character's dramatic story arc. Writers with the time and ability to produce publishable novels do not populate all parts of the workplace. Novelists don't tend to care very much about the details of how different businesses work: literary novelists concentrate on personal relationships, and popular novelists concentrate on clever or thrilling stories.

I'm not knocking novels. I'm just saying they occupy one niche, and blogs have staked out another. Novels show things blogs don't and blogs show things novels don't. Blachman is right that blogs give us "these incredible glimpses into worlds we might otherwise never get to see." So do novels.

6 comments:

mamalujo1 said...

Good morning. Your's is one of the first blogs I check out every day, and it's one I come back to all day long. I had to comment to this post because it speaks to my feelings about blogging and literature. I've always been a reader, but only recently have I come to blogging. The points made are exactly those which attract me to this medium as well. Just reading other people's posts can be so interesting and enlightening. I started my own blog too, and sometimes it feels good just to voice or vent. I'm at paterphilosophy.blogspot. Check me out!

Ron said...

There is the self-consciousness of writing literature as distinct from blogging that also changes how many people would write as well. If you asked the guy in the cubicle next what he was doing, and he said, "I'm writing my novel," that might be considered comic, and you'd probably be left alone! But if he said "I'm blogging about Bob in accounting," you might some good dirt...

perletwo said...

You mention 'you don't have to pay to read a blog,' and that works the other way round too: nobody is making (much) money off a blog. Novels are market-driven, so those with vested interests in them can move in a herd toward what they think will sell - which is why someone from Mars browsing the bookshelves would think there are 89,000 fabulous hip sexy young magazine editors looking for love in Manhattan. Blogs are solely self-expressive, for better or worse.

George said...

The last commenter seems to be missing the boat about blogs in general and not even reading Althouse regularly.

Looking at the success of this blog in obtaining advertising through blogads, it looks like Prof. Althouse is indeed making some real money here: a good thing and well-deserved.

And 'solely self-expressive"? please. What about comments? What about blogs that primarily or extensively serve as "Internet Sherpas," sharing key tidbits from the vast ocean of information, rather than writing about the bloggers' own lives or personal opinions?

somross said...

There's another means, as well: films. Or movies, if you prefer. But that world is even more confined than literature. Will disaster movies change in response to Katrina? They did, I think, after 9/11. "The Day after Tomorrow" (2004) shows people cooperating to survive, unlike "Independence Day" (1996). How about a movie with blogging?

Irene Done said...

Following Mr Sharp's logic, we don't need news reporters to tell us what happens in Russia, we could just read Tolstoy. Novels, blogs -- they're not mutually exclusive. And I don't read this blog to get a glimpse into the world of a law professor so much as to follow a particular kind and quality of commentary. Also, literature is static. Once it's written, that's it. Blogs are continuing conversations, an exchange of ideas. Even when I don't participate in that conversation, I can benefit from it.

Reading blogs can be so enriching. People who argue otherwise seem to be engaging in a sort of uninformed, yet self-satisfied cultural snobbery.