Saturday, September 25, 2004


Me as a blonde.  Posted by Hello

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

As everyone who has a blog has probably heard by now, Google purchased blogger.com's parent company, Pyra Labs.

Frankly, I'm pretty excited about it. Two years ago, at a gathering of Internet folks organized by Jerry Michalski, I met Evan Williams and Meg Hourihan, co-founders of blogger.com. At the time, blogger.com had only(!) 70,000 registered users and had pretty much gone through a chunk of money they raised. Meg and Ev were considering next steps. The people at Jerry's gathering dig stuff like blogger: small, person-to-person apps that the Internet seems made for. We all wanted them to start charging and keep going...or at least not to worry too much about the future. Jerry's kids are the kind of people that not only read things like the Cluetrain Manifesto: four of them wrote it.

So I admit to being a bit star-struck. But it is more than that. Neither Google or Pyra Labs was part of the dot.com boom and bust. Google has become a household name (and even a verb: to google) without a stich of advertising because it worked so damn well. And blogger (Pyra Labs) is one of the original parties around what is fast becoming a new household word: blog.

Right about now I'm also feeling really thankful that I started blogging at the end of last year, thereby making me look like I'm a head of the curve when in fact...I'm completely lame because I've known about blogging for more than two years and failed to explore it. That's kind of my history with the Internet, too. I knew about it...but didn't pay all that much attention to it until just before it got on everyone's radar.
Thanks Greg for inviting me to join. Now I'm off and running to learn and post more.

Saturday, February 01, 2003

Whew...I haven't been here for a while. And feel kind of awful about it.

I just discovered Gerard McGovern's rant on blog and found it a simple expression of how I feel. The simplicity of his blog is wonderful, the navigation suberb: Home, About, Articles, Fun, [Photo] Gallery, University. Pretty much a great resource right there, for himself, for family and friends, and for the rest of us.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Just checking in after a hiatus. Greg, I'll be sending you my nearly finished article about electronic archiving. Anyhow, yes, I looked at the Pepys Diary, and found it very good--the thing that would make this kind of approach fly would be high-powered contributors who were really "into" Pepys as scholars or general interest people. Pepys is the perfect example of a good subject for online approaches because, of course, his diary offers us a look at otherwise unavailable ways of living and perceiving -- social history at its best. Another example might be Henry Mayhew, who compiled the massive study "London Labour and the London Poor," in which one finds an incredible amount of first-hand info by and about the "poorer classes" of British people in the mid-Victorian period -- what they did each day, what they thought about what they did, insofar as they had time to think, etc., how the intellectuals and middle class conceived of what they did. What I find interesting about the approach can be put in rather Baconian terms: Bacon was a patient inductivist and insisted continually in his writings that it was necessary first to gather one's data at length before leaping up to grand statements about how the world is. Bacon saw that move as the fundamental error of the scholastic philosophers he meant to supplant with his ideas about scientific method. Humility is the key term here. So the Pepys blog would be a way to gather all sorts of basic data and interesting ideas (via debate, hyperlink, whatever) before moving towards middle and semi-final claims about the period in which Pepys lived. I think we still need to make those claims, for the sake of simplicity if not spotless innocence, but the process whereby we arrive at them is of vital importance and indeed affects what we do with the statements we have arrived at. There's much more to be said about the textbook and the standard literary edition as a means of institutional passing on / constructing of "knowledge," but that would take a long time, so I'll leave it at this presently.

On a personal note, the reason I like the Pepys blog is that I can relate it to some thinking I am doing about an article on Carlyle's enlistment of the once prominent but now somewhat obscure Scottish physician Dr. William Pulteney Alison, who wrote about the Poor Laws of 1834 and about health issues in general, especially epidemiology. Well, as a devotee of Carlyle's magnificent prose (though one must be careful not to claim that Carlyle's thinking is actually representative of what other Victorians thought...many thought him a madman, and after the Second Reform Bill of 1867 I believe he stopped writing about politics because fewer people took him seriously by then; he was opposed to a profound current of the times: democracy and reform.) Anyhow, just you try and find out anything about Dr. Alison beyond that he was a fine Scottish physician whose works you may be able to get hold of on microfilm. There is much in Carlyle's work the significance of which has not been dealt with -- chance references of this sort are often glossed to demonstrate one's knowledge of the primary subject (Mr. Carlyle and the particular work under consideration), but the glossing is itself little more than a repetition of what some earlier glosser-over already scribbled in a footnote. This sort of thing can go on for centuries -- for another instance, I am unaware that a truly annotated edition of Pater's Marius the Epicurean has ever been done. Why? Because few have the classicist skills or the interest in Pater to find out about the obscure Latin references Pater makes. I've done some annotating, but am not worthy to fasten the shoelaces of some great Annotator To Come, the Paterian Messiah of textual scholarship. On barren repetition as a model of scholarship, my friend Barbara has a great anecdote: when at UC Broccoli, she was studying Ben Franklin's Autobiography, and found that nearly every critical study she read repeated, either verbatim or in close paraphrase, the admonishment that "of course, one must not forget the emblematic roll-eating scene." The comment only made one want to forget the emblematic roll-eating scene, and was in fact a way of destroying its signficance.

Al

Saturday, January 11, 2003

I suppose we can consider the gauntlet thrown down. I added my comments onto Greg's blog. I had to create a new sign-in because I couldn't remember my old one, of course. It was probably Nathalie Dressed or something.

I don't recommend my own blog right now, because it's merely a series of snippets of itself assembled as a step towards creating the first draft of a new poetics. I must find out how to post or link to jpeg files of my hand-corrected drafts. I don't suppose Blogger has any such functionality, and if I put it on Blackboard it will only be available for my students. Once such a draft exists, I vow to master the necessary technology.

Friday, January 10, 2003

No doubt about it, Pepysdiary.com is required reading for all parties here. I am eager to hear your opinion especially, Al. I'm trying to get caught up with it tonight. But I'm already sold on the form. Here is my blog on Pepys Diary as a blog. Says I: "I am awed, and awed in the same manner I was in 1995 when I showed a colleague Wells Fargo's online banking site in Mosiac and explained (both to her and myself) that, no, this was not a demo, this was real. PepysDiary.com is not a demo. It is not even a prototype. It is the real thing. This is the revolution we were promised...Look at example being set here, dammit, and shut-up about whether networked computers are useful educational tools."

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

This quote from Paul de Man's "Literary History and Literary Modernity" seemed particularly apropos for the act of blogging: "The ambivalence of writing is such that it can be considered both an act and an interpretive process that follows after an act with which it cannot coincide" (Blindness and Insight 152).