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May 17, 2004

Speaker's Corner

Writing about an entry you don't have permission to view

Hugh says: "unfree: is the blog the americanisation of the soul? discuss."

What are you saying? That the blog frees or shackles the soul? Your post's title is "unfree", yet America is supposed to be the symbol of personal freedom.

OK, so the blog is American in origin, starting from NCSA'S What's New and Dave Winer's Scripting News , the longest running blog on the net. But what else could be said is American about it?

The Fast-Food nation has a culture whose mantra is instant gratification. You can easily buy, eat watch anything, anytime. Similarly the blog has given anyone the power to easily publish anything, anytime. As the former trivialises shopping and food, the latter degrades the quality of content. It is no longer edited, it is published as soon as it is written. Jon Garfunkel for example does not maintain a blog, he says: it's edited.

Another characteristic of America could be said to be it's arrogance and vanity. They are so self-important that they think they can boss everyone around on the world stage and expect their standards to be universal. Similarly, bloggers could be said to be arrogant in the sense that they think anyone would actually be intersested in what they have to say. I mean who in the wider world cares if I got up at noon today, or that my exam went well?

As we become bloggers, is our soul assimilated into the American culture? Even if what we blog is wholly unamerican, does the very act of blogging betray us?

Whether a blogger has any of the characteristics outlined above depends, I feel, on the person and not on the way he chooses to express himself. I do not want to miss reading the opinions of respected people in their fields, like Joel Spolsky .

At the end of the day is not the blog just an electronic version of the British institution Speaker's Corner at Hyde Park?


4 out of 5 stars

Dan Brown is on to a winner here. IF The DaVinci Code is taken to be a work of fiction all around. The first page is misleading: taking any of the historical and art historical background used in this book for real is absurd.

The plot itself could not be more suspenseful, a sure page-turner. The nagging question "What historical nonsense will Brown come up next?" only adds to that.

As long as the reader remains critical, this book can do no harm and is sheer fun!