Thursday, October 07, 2004

Meet the Neighbors

I’m not going to make a game of it, but I've got to admit that I, too, am taken with the fundamental strangeness that can result from the "Next Blog" button above—of the idea of blogs as adjacent in some way. I started noticing those oddball hits in my referrer log, and following the links—and the deeper I went, the weirder it got.

This may be ultimate expression of the community-as-vector model; cutting slantwise across any number of intersecting fields which are themselves in constant motion, algorithmic illusions of randomness putting the hyper (in a mathematical sense) back into hyperlink. Most of the time we experience web-browsing in a roughly linear manner—it's like a meatspace social network, where we travel from friend to friend-of-a-friend to friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend; each point is the hub of a wheel, connected by invisible spokes to a multitude of points which are each, in turn, the hubs of their own individual wheels. We travel outwards, sideways, laterally—but always along the spokes. Always in a theoretically three-dimensional space, in that we only travel between points that are in some way adjacent (search engines being, in this model, hubs with a near-infinite number of spokes).

Random or pseudo-random surfing, though, is fourth-dimensional; it essentially folds the web of wheels, bringing you from Point A to Point Z without passing through any intervening points. It's a nonlinear, indeed non-3D motion. And like the physics behind the concept—the language of hypercube, tesseract, and Kline bottle—it all gets a little dizzying.

So yeah, short form: I thought I'd click through Blogspot three-four times, and see what I could see.

First stop is promising enough—a promo blog for a band called JC and the Noise. Pretty cool. Maybe I'll give 'em a listen later. Next?

Oh, ugh. Here's a new and obnoxious use for free push-button publishing—a cheap-ass promotional site, part of a suite of same; Check the guy’s profile—he maintains two dozen separate quasi-blogs on various commercial topics, all with repeated boilerplate text, hoping to snare the unwary with Google hits on his keywords. Least welcome trend of the year, this.

Worse, I actually hit this bastard twice in five clicks. Gah! Get me out of here! NEXT!

Info and schedule for a badass kickball team. What's with all the promo-type sites? Does nobody use Blogger for personal pages anymore?

Still. Kickball. Who knew? Fuck 'em up good, kids!

Personal pages, personal pages... Ah, here we go! Hm. A pasty Mexican intellectual who digs Schopenhauer, but who, like everybody else on the ‘net, can’t resist posting cute pictures of kittycats. Somehow, that seems to sum up the whole blogging phenomenon, no?

Lastly, we have the very new blog of Matt, a 40-year-old fundamentalist Christian accountant from Des Moines. He's certainly no St. Augustine, but without even a whiff of rhetoric, his relentlessly quotidian accounts of church services, books read, and gym workouts add up to a sort of spiritual autobiography of one man doggedly pursuing a godly life as best he understands it—and as such it is improbably compelling.

No Grand Unified Theory of Blogspot, here. Just people. As always.


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