Friday, November 12, 2004

Literature in the Internet Age, Part 2

Rather than killing literature, the Internet instead liberated it. Pre-Internet, publishers and editors decided what was worth printing. Post-Internet, anyone with anything to say could publish their works electronically. Welcome to the era of personal publishing.

There's no more tangible manifestation of this today than blogs, which are currently all the rage of the Internet. For the uninitiated, blogs are short for "web log", a sort of an online diary. Content varies greatly, from the loftiest of thoughts to the most mundane mutterings: as with any diary, it depends on the personality and intellect of the writer.

While publishing on the web goes as far back as ten years, blogs are a more recent phenomenon and make publishing so much easier than before. Instead of composing individual web pages and linking them manually, blog tools allow you to write directly from the browser. The system takes care of indexing your work. Perhaps the best-known blog application is

More than just a content management and publishing system, blogs are also focal points for communities. We normally don't associate community with literature because reading is typically a personal activity. Literature itself is actually communal in nature, and it shows in how we gravitate towards certain authors, topics, and opinions. The Internet throws that in sharper relief.

There are blogs for practically all subjects underneath the sun: politics, literature, science, travel, religion, etc. But in the end, we have to go back to the nature of the blog as online diary: this is literature that is inextricably tied in to the personality of the writer.

For this reason, the best blogs are probably the personal blogs by twentysomethings and thirtysomethings. Why? Simply because they (or perhaps I should say "we") have the most to say. Angst, frustration, fears, boredom, love, hormonal imbalance, parental conflict, peer pressure, financial worries: all these contribute to a fascinating tapestry of human drama that rivals the most imaginative soap opera writers.

And it's all real. Sort of.

For a sampling of Philippine blogs, go to For a Dumagueteno-specific blog, check out


  1. Blogs strike me as more of a reality-show-type setup. What if people only create blogs because of their inherent exhibitionistic tendencies, which were only recently brought to light by the sudden realization that there are now about six billion other people in the world? What if people only read blogs to satisfy their inherent voyeuristic tendencies, which were originally brought to the fore by the increasing secularization of the world at large?

    I swear, that's the last time I have pizza and Coke for breakfast.

  2. The community part of Blogs is what interests me most. Not only is there a community of people who comment on your blog, there is also community among bloggers themselves. Bloggers frequently link to other blogs with similar content; friendships then arise, and antagonists emerge, with the usual drama that accompany these things.

    Blogs are also increasingly filling the role of media watchdogs. Here in the US, the big story is how blogs fully debunked the CBS memo story within 24 hours. Now that big media companies do not have a monopoly on the distribution of information, they need to be more careful with what they put out to the public.

    Oh, and let me just plug my blog :-)

  3. Aw, gee, thanks for the comments, guys. I wrote that piece in a hurry because of deadline pressures, and never got to touching on the aspect of circle-of-friends involved in blogging.

    Yes, Sean, we live in a voyeuristic society.

    But...there's nothing wrong with pizza and Coke for breakfast. Or at least I don't think so.