When it comes to personal blogging, documentary is
the default genre. There are plenty of blogs that serve
other functions, but many blogs are primarily catalogues
of the life experiences of their author. Although there
are quite a few blogs that focus on collecting poetry and
other forms of creative writing, the vast majority of
personal blogs are in some sense documentaries.
For many years, the act of making a documentary was
meant to be an objective act of reporting the sights and
sounds that the filmmaker, writer, or photographer
encountered. However, in contemporary times there has
been a movement towards embracing the subjectivity
inherent in the documentary form. This means that
modern documentaries often reflect the distinctive
voice and sensibility of their creator, and the fact that
todays documentaries often revolve around personality
blurs the lines between documentary and memoir. Blogs
rest somewhere between these two genres, muddying
the distinctions even further. Personal blogging,
documentary, and memoir are now irrevocably
intertwined, for better or for worse.
Although few bloggers think of themselves as making
documentaries in any formal sense, every time
somebody sits down in front of a computer and types up
a record of their day, they are documenting their own
historical moment. The things that we take for granted
about our daily lives, like the way that we use specific
modes of transportation, or the kinds of products that
we buy, often seem quite fascinating to people who live
in circumstances different from ours, and it is this kind
of fascination that is at the heart of many documentary
projects. When people think about blogging,
documentary is not very likely to be the first adjective
that crosses their minds, but a few decades down the
road it is very likely that todays blogs will be seen
primarily as very subjective documentaries of our era.
The people of tomorrow will almost certainly look to
the blogs of today for insight into our historical
When it comes to blogging, documentary may not be
the aim of most people who spend their time posting
their thoughts and ideas on the internet. In some ways,
the documentary aspect of blogging is more of a side
effect than a primary goal. However, the fact that so
many people are interested in publishing these public
online diaries shows that personal blogs are about more
than just rumination. The fact that bloggers are so
stimulated by and interested in sharing their ideas with
each other reinforces the idea that personal blogs are, in
some ways, documentaries meant for public
consumption. Documentaries appeal to people who are
curious about other ways of life, and many people who
regularly read others personal blogs are looking for this
same kind of new perspective.
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