Why moblogging sucks

“Moblogging sucks” returns no hits on Google yet, much to my dismay. This entry is long in coming, but the result of a number of things I’ve read recently, an entry by Jia most immediately.

Jia writes of Cecily from The Importance of Being Earnest as the prototypical, self-involved, obsessed blogger. I think, in many respects, she is right. At its worst, blogging is an extension of the personal diary, which in turn can easily become a conceited conceit. But at its best, blogging remembers an audience that is more than the older self or posterity. Indeed, were the intended audience either of these two, pen-on-paper makes much more sense as a delivery mechanism.

And this is why moblogging, as a phenomenon, is destined to fail. (“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.”) At least at the earliest stages, it reminds me of nothing so much as Andy Warhol’s diary. I don’t care how much you spent on lunch, no matter how famous you are. Warhol at least had a gift for turning a phrase, so even though he had little important to say, he said it well. Most bloggers, myself included, are not particularly good writers. Some, however, have something worth saying. I worry that moblogging with pull even more bloggers toward inanity.

Now, despite the title of this entry, I do not, in fact, dislike the idea of moblogging in and of itself. I am not personally, at present, driven toward it. It seems at this stage to be more work than it is worth. But it is only now, after many decades of not owning a camera, that I have even started to take pictures while on trips and the like. I had always thought that photographs were a poor substitute for memories, and that you could better spend the time you would have been framing a shot doing something more memorable. As I get older, perhaps I have become more nostalgic, and I have backed off of that position somewhat. I now have a tiny camera that goes with me most of the time, and I think that has changed things a little.

Moblogging has its uses. I can definitely see it’s appeal as the ultimate expression of the memex, a way for (social) scientists to record their world for later analysis. My problem is that it is being combined with blogging, and in so-doing providing more fodder for the chief critics of the blogging phenomenon. If anything, the quality of blogs needs to increase, and unfiltered entries from the road have the potential of decreasing the signal-to-noise ratio to an unbearable level. The characteristics that make blogging unique will be diluted if moblogging gets a foothold.

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  1. Seb
    Posted 1/26/2003 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    I read somewhere about someone who came at the top of a mountain and saw people who didn’t have a camera. Rather they took out pencil&paper and started drawing. They said their experience and memory was much more vivid from the observation than if they had taken a picture.

    Of course you may as well take a picture afterwards, while you’re at it.

  2. Alex Halavais
    Posted 1/27/2003 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    When I was in grad school, a classmate kept a journal in which she did sketches of things she saw. I think it made a lot more sense for a diary: after all, it was a record of her impressions. I still want to learn to sketch. I suppose it mostly takes practice, but I seem not to have a knack for it.

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