Sophont
Saturday, March 13, 2004
 
My So-Called Blog
nytimes.com: "When M. gets home from school, he immediately logs on to his computer. Then he stays there, touching base with the people he has seen all day long, floating in a kind of multitasking heaven of communication. First, he clicks on his Web log, or blog -- an online diary he keeps on a Web site called LiveJournal -- and checks for responses from his readers. Next he reads his friends' journals, contributing his distinctive brand of wry, supportive commentary to their observations. Then he returns to his own journal to compose his entries: sometimes confessional, more often dry private jokes or koanlike observations on life.

Finally, he spends a long time -- sometimes hours -- exchanging instant messages, a form of communication far more common among teenagers than phone calls. In multiple dialogue boxes on his computer screen, he'll type real-time conversations with several friends at once; if he leaves the house to hang out in the real world, he'll come back and instant-message some more, and sometimes cut and paste transcripts of these conversations into his online journal. All this upkeep can get in the way of homework, he admitted. ''You keep telling yourself, 'Don't look, don't look!' And you keep on checking your e-mail.'' M. is an unusually Zen teenage boy -- dreamy and ruminative about his personal relationships. But his obsessive online habits are hardly exceptional; he is one of a generation of compulsive self-chroniclers, a fleet of juvenile Marcel Prousts gone wild. When he meets new friends in real life, M. offers them access to his online world. ''That's how you introduce yourself,'' he said. ''It's like, here's my cellphone number, my e-mail, my screen name, oh, and -- here's my LiveJournal. Personally, I'd go to that person's LJ before I'd call them or e-mail them or contact them on AIM'' -- AOL Instant Messenger -- ''because I would know them better that way.''"

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