This week, the piece I found most interesting was Morrison’s article on mommy blogging. I was particularly interested in her explanation of how blog owners in intimate public spaces cultivate their personas. It calls to mind Mark Poster’s explanation of the continual creation of the self, which is required in situations where the body is not immediately accessible. In a sense, Morrison is observing Poster’s theory put into practise.
I think that this work of continual creation explains something that I found strange in this article — Morrison explains that writers maintain a sense of privacy by limiting their number of readers, but she also notes that writers often decrease their anonymity as their viewership grows. Logically, we should really be seeing the opposite relation.
I believe that oddity is possible in part because, in Morrison’s words, blogs are events rather than objects. Their meaning, significance, and emotional resonance aren’t formed by the words on the page (or the screen, as the case may be) but rather by a network of relationships created by other blogs and other writers. Their ‘persona’ isn’t created by them alone — it is itself a text that is written by multiple people, including but not limited to the blog owner. As their network of connections increases, more people become involved in the interpellation of their disembodied self, and the persona becomes less and less analogous to their actual person. As the pseudonym/character ceased to be strictly analogous to the actual embodied person, writers feel safer to release sensitive personal information. (As Morrison’s survey showed, writers tend to make their choices about what to share and what not to share on the basis of emotional affect rather than pure logic.)
Since Morrison’s study also shows that sharing personal information can result in a very real and very meaningful emotional intimacy, there’s a clear incentive to follow through with this instinct. Personal information can be rewarding to share, and in many cases these bloggers describe being able to share information that they feel compelled to hide in their offline interactions — a benefit of the intimate public space that is certainly not limited to mommy blogging.
In regards to some of the social media we will be learning about this week, I’d like to point out the temporal constraints of twitter vs. wordpress — wordpress posts give the sense of permanance, because the page generally remains stable, whereas twitter posts move and are quickly buried as additional posts are made. I think it would be interesting to look at how (if at all) the creation of self varies as the temporal pace and stability of the medium changes.