Today, I woke up.

  • I wiped the sand from my eyes. 
  • Ten minutes later I did a little Shaker peeing and splashed some of that good yellow stuff on the toilet seat. 
  • Two minutes after that, I blew my nose and threw the tissue in the wastebasket near the toilet I fouled. 
  • 30 seconds later, I cried a little bit because of the loss of my pee stream aim because I am getting older. 
  • Three minutes later, I wiped the crying snot on my shirtsleeve.


Does my “Blogging the Bodily Fluids” stream gross you out?

Do you really want a blow-by-blow description of thing things that come out of me?

Is it interesting to read that sort of “dead event” logging instead of reckoning with new ideas that were freshly written to try to entice you into reading this blog?

I am concerned by the growing, lazy, trend to have the events of a life replace the invented thoughts of the day.  There is a wholesale replacement of new content starting to happen in good blogs and this “Dead Blogging” got its start in the ridiculous Twittering people do today to reveal the stations of their ordinary lives. 

Here is one example of a current Twitter stream from our very own Gordon Davidescu:

I can understand Gordon’s frustration, and his want to transfer the iconic influences of his day into the world to give his life meaning — but I do not really understand the need to Twitter this information across the world in real time that, by the time it hits the eye of the reader, is a dead event.

I’m not picking on Gordon — I’m using his Twitter stream as an example — and I understand Twitter is popular with a lot of people. 

However, Twittering makes the good writer awful and a publishing a Twitter stream on a blog is the beginning of the end of that blog because authors are then merely logging the events of an ordinary day instead of trying to bring new light and authority and understanding to the world in carefully formed arguments and blog posts.

Blogging is ugly and deadly work, and a lot of people have a hard time coming up with fresh ideas. 

I believe it is better to just stop blogging if you have nothing new to invent, but I know many others — as a memes of keeping their cold, dead, fingers, in a hot pie — feel it is fine to just go on “auto-blogging” and have your web use published as new content.

We currently use Movable Type on this Urban Semiotic blog to publish our thoughts and dreams and we strive to always come up with something special and different to share with you.

There’s a Plugin for Movable Type called “Action Steams” and I am arguing today it is just that sort of Plugin that makes blogs really awful — even if the streaming of your day is relegated to the sidebar. 

“Action Streams” work by collecting information from many online services you use every day and then mashing them all together in a single stream.

Because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings in the exampling of “Action Steams” in non-action — a better name for the Plugin is “My Dead Calendar” — I will show you how these streams are currently employed by Six Apart employees.  Six Apart created Movable Type. 

NOTE:  We all know tech guys have no feelings to hurt and they’re skin is hard as tire rubber, so we risk nothing in this demonstration.  Heh!

Our first example is the worst:  David Recordon’s entire blog is not a blog at all.  He’s a smart guy with a lot to say, but his blog proves none of his genius. His namesake blog is just an Action Stream pretending to be a blog.  If blogs are supposed to try to improve the world and save us from ourselves — that’s the mandate I follow — how does this sort of blog meet that end?  If blogs are merely vanity vehicles for logging the dead events of the day — why have that published on a public website?  Why not just keep a private calendar instead? 

When I was growing up, some people chose to keep their most private thoughts in a diary.  Some diaries even had a lock and key to ensure no one else would read those private wonderings.

“Diary Blogging” on the web can be extremely effective — as long as the content is created and not just logged.

Our second Action Streams example is from Byrne Reese’s fine blog.  Byrne has a lot of fascinating things to say, but you have to dig around on his site to find the juicy content and that’s why it’s frustrating as a reader to discover the prime eye location on his blog — the center of the homepage — is filled with an Action Stream that enlightens nothing and holds no long-term interest.

We’ll finish up with Anil Dash’s blog.  Anil has been blogging for a long time and he places a prime importance on good, clear, effective, writing.  His articles are always a great read.  Most of one of his sidebars, however, is filled with a neverending Action Stream that only kills the freshness of his blog.  Perhaps Anil is playing along by employing the Plugin on this site — there’s a lot of peer pressure to Twitter and Action Stream if your friends are doing it — but I somehow expected Anil to be above that sort of verneration of dead deeds.

I understand people enjoy marking their day and then publishing what they’ve done because it provides a sense of accomplishment.  However, I don’t understand why that sort of want is considered fodder for blogging but, then again, I’ve argued here in the past bloggers should be licensed and vetted before being allowed to touch the “publish” button in order to save the web from unnecessary noise and the mishmash of incomprehensible writing.

The Plugin we really need — and the Plugin that would make every blog highly read — is one that predicts the forbearance of hidden desires. 

The “Precog Plugin” would work a little something like this:

  • In two seconds, Ritchie hopes to grab that cookie out of that baby’s hand.
  • In five minutes, Ritchie plans to punch the bartender and leave without paying.
  • In 27 hours, Ritchie desires to race naked in the street with that girl he met on the subway.

If the Precog Plugin won’t work without a brain implant, then I guess I’ll just have to settle for my Bodily Fluids Stream if I ever hope to follow in the new ritual of dead blogging.  After all, peeing is always more popular than Flickring.

57 Comments

  1. Holy S**t.
    I seriously thought you were out of your mind when I read the first few sentences of today’s post.
    If displaying daily life events are replacing the substancial writing that I expect from a blog – then I am the last person to read it.
    I have better things to do.

  2. Ha! I’m glad I shook you up a little today, Katha! SMILE! You know, I’m sure there are Twitter streams out there that just deal with bodily functions. Heh!
    I agree blogging is changing. I think the old timers are getting burned out. Many are doing the right thing and just closing down their blogs and doing something else. Others, though, are relying on these “gotchas” where they can publish their daily and online activity and pass it off as fresh content and interesting information for people the world over. I understand that’s an easy way to create “new” but the content is always narrow and dead on arrival.
    The newer bloggers, those who haven’t been around awhile, see these googahs and go gaga over the ability to “appear to be writing” when all they’re really doing is having an web script track them throughout the day and report back to the rest of us. It’s sort of eerie that people want the world to know exactly where they are and what they did. It seems sort of anti-freedom to me and it will only get worse with GPS tracking in cellphones and the ability to publish that insta-location on blogs, too. It’s already happening with Yahoo! Fire Eagle:
    http://www.sixapart.com/blog/2008/03/yahoo-fire-eagle-for-movable-type.html

  3. Hi David,
    I find twitter interesting because people are finding ways to blur the line between interior monologues and externalized ideas. then again, by urging us to recount every passing thought as it comes, we perhaps end up losing the chance to mull over them, to let it linger and see if anything better happens.

  4. Ya, it’s tough to shock me David, but you successfully did it…no doubt!
    I am so glad I don’t read any of these daily diaries – ever. Publicly displayed private informations do not interest me – I don’t know why it should. I just don’t get it. I will only write something which I think will positively affect others.
    I don’t mind others knowing my whereabouts but it can’t be universal – the choice should be mine. At least I should spare them who don’t want to know it.

  5. I understand your support of Twitter, Dananjay, do you have an account? The risk of Twitter and these other forms of automatic expression is the temptation for the user that every single event in a day becomes fodder for sharing.
    There is little self-control or internal editing of the want to share every meme and, to me anyway, that’s the sign of a bad writer and an immature mind. Not all ideas are great. Not every impulse need be shared. Sometimes the most prudent route is to remain quiet and internal.

  6. I love it you were shocked, Katha! Ha! I guess we’re old school in our thinking about what should be public and what should be private. I prefer less noise and more quality in the public sphere, and the online explosion is leading us deeper into overwhelming noise where we are no longer able to separate what is important and what is just chatter, and when super smart people actively choose to add to that unnecessary noise, we are hurt all the more for their effort.

  7. I am happy to be shocked! It’s good to be surprised at times!
    Quantity always trumps quantity – I guess.
    You are right David, it’s a criminal waste of time, energy and effort.

  8. Explain it to us, Dananjay, the pleasure in Twittering away your life for those reading this thread who may not understand the allure. Is it a fame thing? Is it a want to be noticed thing? It seems if you wanted those couple of things there are more measurable ways of meeting those ends than publishing your life on Twitter.

  9. Well, Katha, this event of shocking you now has me thinking my Bodily Fluids Stream is something I should continue as a regular feature! It’s good to surprise you!
    I think it is important to try for quality, Katha, and I’m sure some people do try for that standard on Twitter and the like, but the auto-streaming of your every movement on the web and then publishing it is just stale to me. I’m sure there are some people who try to be pithy and witty and “make themselves busy” on the web so their Action Streams will remain “new.”

  10. David!
    It’s probably a want to be noticed thing. i don’t suppose there’s any fame involved in something anybody could do with little or no training. And yes, there are definitely better avenues but i guess some people just choose to do it in this way.

  11. Fair enough, Dananjay. I suppose Twitter is an easy way to keep your eye on your friends in a public way. SMS via cellphone seems more appropriate to me, but I guess that is the genius of Twitter: SMS goes public broadcast.

  12. True, David. That’s about what it amounts to. I’m sure most people will grow out of it and look at their defunct twitter account and think that it was just a phase!

  13. That’s a good point, Dananjay, and then I wonder how many of them will live in horror as they realize their entire thought process was published on the internet for indexing and “filing away” for future use! Was the moment of the thrill worth the pound of flesh?

  14. Yes, David. But most of that information is probably just everyday noise and not fully formed crystallized thoughts so in a way it’s not that bad! Some will even look into it and see it as a part of their greater narrative.

  15. Wake up, Anne! The world is spinning with information and you either catch it or you drown! SMILE! It very well could be boredom with life and a reaching out for inclusion that pretends to be entertainment. Unfortunately… the end result is often boredom for those who have to parse through the flood.

  16. I’m not sure, David. But it’s possible that somebody may find all that information they had generated helpful in ways that might be hard to imagine right now.

  17. No idea, David. But all that roof brain chatter that people record for posterity might provide fascinating personal insight when the recorders look back on them.

  18. I had a feeling pre-cut that this would be a twitter related entry! It’s funny – in so many ways I completely agree with you and yet I go ahead and tweet during the day! 🙂

  19. Be still my beating heart …….. that was definitely TMI (too much information). I am glad Katha beat me to the Holy Sh!t comment!
    I am totally with you on Twitter and the like – I think I have an account but fail major time to use it as it seems to be aimed at mobile phone users. Most of the twitters I have seen are banal and of no relevance except possibly to the author themselves.
    My blog is on hiatus – it has been except for a few odd posts because at the moment my life is sadly governed by mind boggling minutiae and very mundane process of survival which sadly have to take precedence over anything remotely thoughtful, creative or interesting – besides which they also drive me to distraction and to exhaustion.
    However the first stage in all this will be completed next week – and I will at last have some idea of what my options are going to be – maybe then I will have a bit more mental freedom to blog again.

  20. Uh-Oh! Gordon found us! SMILE!
    I wouldn’t really have been able to write this today without following your Twitter stream for awhile. You actually re-publish your Twittering through a separate service, right? What is it and why do you do it?

  21. Nicola!
    You are one of the most open and generous people I know — yet imagining your Twittering all day makes me laugh because its very being is so very opposite of your spirit of now.
    I’m glad you and Katha enjoyed the opening parse today — if it’s getting that kind of attention, I should make it a regular feature… SMILE!
    I think Twitter could be used to change the world and move minds — but you’d have to have everyone on the service agreeing to those new terms — and that would never happen. People like to hear themselves speak and Twittering the the best way to talk out loud to yourself without gaining suspicion.
    You were smart to pause your blog. You could have easily started daily updates of a sentence or two — but why? Why just say something because you can? Speaking up without speaking out only weakens authority and disarms common communication controls in destructive ways. People begin to tune out the noise and then miss the indifferent sparks of imagination.
    I’m glad things are rounding out for you! Keep your aim true and your focus hard and you will absolutely prevail!

  22. I have a lot of friends on livejournal who have started joining twitter and for the benefit of those who want to find twitter (and a few have thanks to http://www.loudtwitter.com/ ) I use the service and up it goes!
    I also have a strange pleasure from seeing the livejournal calendar filled up with entries, even if they are only me complaining about the train! 🙂

  23. Gordon! So do you feel you are creating new content with that calendar filling? Or do you feel it’s just an official recording of your day or something? Are there any things you do that you DON’T Twitter? What makes you decide to press those letters and click on send?

  24. It’s strictly a recording although I guess it is in some way content. Sometimes I do write things that could be later elaborated; the train thing is one such thing. Why bother announcing a track number if the train isn’t ready for boarding? There are plenty of things I don’t tweet; when something strikes me as significant, then it goes out.

  25. No more yellow surprises please David! It’s always good to be suprised in a pleasant way!
    I agree with you – it bores me to death. In fact i am unable to see the objective of it – old school of thought? Happily so!

  26. Hi David,
    We know it and we won’t learn from it and we will again start a war somewhere in the name of it.
    You want to talk about it? I will passively particiapte and actively support war – istn’t this what we are doing? The entire world?

  27. Todays “Twitter” just for you 😉
    8.30 am – Woken by the wind and rain rattling on the windows again
    9.00 Decide its is just a cup of tea for breakfast
    9.15 Still missing nicotine – I thought giving up smoking was supposed to get easier.
    9.30 Another cup of tea as I for got to take last of my meds
    10.00 Take delight in telling random sales caller I am subscribed to the telephone preference service and if they call again they will be reported and fined.
    10.15 Tell another random sales caller from same company that I am going to report them.
    11.00 Decide breakfast is called for after all – toast and marmite time.
    11.30 Email check – nothing of interest.
    12.00 Make up bed for arriving guest.
    13.00 give up this madness as I am bored of it and I am sure you must be too !

  28. Actually, Nicola, I loved your live action stream! What fun to follow you around the house! I especially like the telling off of the random callers. Do you have Caller ID in the UK? I don’t answer calls I don’t recognize and I refuse blocked calls.

  29. It was fun to share your day with you. I want your tea! SMILE! I’m glad you have Caller ID — what a great invention! You’re right. Your calls may be unidentified for a reason, so you need to always answer. Some people might not even want to leave a message. They want a live conversation.

  30. Most of our new customers are reticent to leave a message – they tend to be quite shy and dread leaving a message on the wrong answer phone I think!
    I will mock twitter my day for you tomorrow on my blog – it seems like a fun idea to try for a day.

  31. I understand your clients’ want for privacy, Nicola. It must be a little scary to pick up that phone and make the first call. Your Twitter day sounds fun! Can’t wait to read it. But — dumb it down a bit — your example earlier today was too funny and perfect and well-written! You need to fit into the Twitter milieu. SMILE!

  32. 1)I don’t ever tweet body fluid movements.
    2)I tend not to tweet food intake unless it is spectacular.
    3)I have lots of thoughts that go untweeted. Either they are just silly passing thoughts, dreams, or I just don’t feel like taking the time to input them into my blackberry. 🙂