Friday, February 10, 2006

Smarter Blogging

Last night and today I have spent the day, mostly alone, and mostly at my house. Having recently recovered from a flu that devastated my household (Ryan, Rie, and I), I don't really have the physical energy to play ball (though I do feel fine).

So I have been using my mental energy and excess (for once) of time for other exercises. After being productive with FAFSA, and studying my latest Chinese words, I have delved into the internet in a new direction, more of a cerebral direction than the average recent college graduate.

To preface this, the way to say blog in Chinese (well one of a few ways that I have encountered) is bo2 ke4. The way to say podcast apparently, is bo1 ke4. The difference is all in the tone, but the characters are very different. Listening to www.chinesepod.com (a very fun tool for casual or intermediate Chinese learners) they said a good way to remember the difference is that bo1 is apart of broadcast (hence podcast), whereas bo2 is apart of doctorate.

Obviously the connection between broadcast and podcast (which is not in my Apple computer's spelling check dictionary, tisk tisk). But the connection between a PHD holder and a blog writer to me seemed fuzzy. But the very smart host (Jenny Zhu) emphasized this connection as primordially obvious: bloggers are smart.

What? When did that happen?

I had spent that morning reading blogs from language philosophers, law professors, and the arguably brilliant Dave Berry. I often have marveled at the "blogosphere" and the impact that it is having on real news. Yet I never really stopped to think "hey, blogs are all grown up now."

In a weird way, they did it too fast for me. It was only four years ago that the only blog I knew of was Miranda's. I read Miranda's blog with diligence, well before it was called a blog. At the time she kept it somewhat secret, as sort of a private journal for the few who knew her URL (I actually initially got her URL through illicit means, sorry Miranda, it was all love).

At the time, when I mentioned I was thinking about starting a blog, it was somewhat of a joke. I remember Jake very much laughed at the whole concept, and thought an online journal defeated the purpose of a journal in the first place.

Yet quickly and not silently, blogs have gone from diary type journals to academic type journals. You can find real information out there. A good web surfer is not longer finding college humor and pornography. Rather, it is far more interesting stuff.

However, it is still hard for me to picture a blog as anything more than a step up from a the poorly crafted personal web-pages of yesterday.

Blogs may even hold the key to Chinese freedom of speech. Their sheer mass, and the ease of spreading links through messenger is quickly becoming a nightmare for Chinese censorship. Literally millions of blogs are flying around China, and their impact is freedom of assembly. For every site Michael Anti has shut down, he can pop another one up. Blogs are simply not a joke anymore.

What is odd for me is that even recently I have used blog as a derisive term. I use it to excuse my poor grammar and putting up things like surveys. I don't really regret that, but I am starting to think I might have to change my use of the word.

When I start law school, and especially afterwards, I might start a more scholarly blog, but for now, this is more for friends and family and I am okay with that. If for no other reason, my friends and family seem pretty scholarly themselves.

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