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Rough for Internet

I notice that the predominant style across a lot of the internet—particularly on blogs and social media—strives to come across as always casual and conversational, to the point of being colloquial and chatty. Indeed, the online world spawns its own colloquialisms rapidly, which I think adds to the lightweight, offhand effect. Nearly all internet-mediated discourse can come to seem frivolous, even when the subjects being discussed may be serious. I think it is this sort of thing that gives some commentators the impression that the cultural impact of the internet is negative: that it degrades, debates, and diminishes the public sphere. As though the medium itself could be destructive in general of the human capacity for serious thought.

I don't buy the latter view at all. I am well aware of all kinds of web-based publications, forums, and other outlets that provide all manner of profound thought regarding important events, issues, and ideas. Even what we might historically term the Suck house style, although its influence is widespread, is far from always resorted to. There is a whole gamut of journalism, literature, discussion, commentary, and criticism from sources both amateur and professional or somewhere in between. And as I've already mentioned, even at its most arch this typical chatty style can still be a vehicle for profound substance.

One thing I really notice a lack of, however, is a self-conscious avant garde of Internet messaging as a practice. So-called "Weird Twitter" is the one notable exception I can think of recently. I recall fondly when sites like http://jodi.org and http://superbad.com seemed like key contributors to the emerging disembodied landscape of the Web. It's possible, of course, that I'm just not keeping up with this stuff as much as I used to. In researching this section, I noticed that http://net-art.org is still around, and both of the sites I mentioned earlier remain available online as well (whether or not they are still getting updates I am not sure).

The thing that really brought all this on, is I started wondering if anyone is using the blog as a format with the kind of formalism-as-examination-of-the-form such as Samuel Beckett brought to the theatre or Joyce to the novel. Where is the boundry-testing blog that challenges what a blog can be so that blogging can become something more than it has been? What would the blogging equivalent of Finnegan's Wake look like? I'd like to see that, although I don't think I'll be trying it myself.