12 February 2005

A first entry

The first entry of a new journal is, for me, always uncomfortable for being so self-consciously about being the first entry of a new journal. This weblog is a kind of new journal.

I understand much about keeping a personal journal, but know little about weblogging. It feels a little as though I am driving something like a huge waggon for the first time: not only are there are many controls about which I know nothing, but also I fear that the performance of the vehicle will throw up surprises. However, this latter is the principal reason why I wish to write a weblog: to find out what it feels like to do so, and to learn what I am able from the experience. It would feel presumptuous were I to assume that I could achieve competence beyond my already existing IT skills and journalling capabilities, although what I have written also feels like I am bringing low expectations to the experience.

My personal journal is a private document, and I have little experience of sharing its contents. This weblog is a public document, and my thoughts and opinions are open to comment. Past experience of voicing my personal thoughts and opinions regarding anything other than a professional matters is sufficiently unpleasant that it fills me with trepidation to do so. It feels as though I am making myself vulnerable to being hurt again.

Written in this public forum, it sounds to me as though I am pleading to be treated with care. Therefore, a first learning point is that when I express my feelings, my words risk being read as a coded message. This latter is far from the case in my personal journal. Maybe, in fact, people, and not simply other webloggers, from whom one might assume, or at least hope for, some reciprocal care-taking, will not read the expression of my feelings as a coded message. Maybe my fear is my fantasy, based on how I might read similar material. Oh dear! Learning point two: I am self-censoring what I would have written here in my personal journal, regarding the extent to which I bring interpretation to what I read. The privacy of my personal journal means that there is little that cannot be recorded in it. I guess that I have to learn the boundaries of this weblogging medium. Perhaps, more optimistically, I shall also discover the power and capabilities of weblogging .

I have given little thought to how frequently I intend to make entries into this weblog. It will probably be like my personal journal: occasional. I have given even less thought to for how long I shall maintain it. Part of me is inclined for it to continue indefinitely, and part of me wants to experiment with it being time limited. I shall make a decision about this latter once I feel clear in my mind.

I am aware of Thinks, by David Lodge. As a consequence, I feel more self-conscious writing this weblog. A voice (with an English accent) asks whether I am writing this weblog as my version of Thinks. Learning point three: I have written this paragraph after the final paragraph. Unlike in my personal journal, in which the format of each entry is effectively a kind of stream of consciousness, in this weblog I can not only edit as I type, but also revise the entire entry prior to posting, making the process of its creation, and also the final result, more like a web-page. I feel uncertain about whether this program has an on-line spelling checker, and am feeling a little disconcerted because I am used to typing within MS Word, with red and green underlining to help alert me to spelling and grammatical problems. I realise that the box within which I am typing has a variety of controls and instructions above and below, most of which are obvious, but some leading to controls unknown. (Note made later: I have now tried out the unknown control buttons.) Learning point four: what I have just written may be considered boring. I do not write boring text in my personal journal, for what I write is written for my experience of writing it and for my experience of reading it. In this weblog, I am writing with at least some desire to be interesting and/or entertaining, by which I feel confused.

I am finding it hard to think of how to bring this entry to an end. I know that the medium is intended to be informal. I am not really an informal sort of person. I like my SMS text messages to be grammatically correct and properly punctuated. "Loosen up. Live a little" (I must check from which movie this line is taken - my memory says that it is from the night-time kitchen scene in Peter's Friends, but I am unsure, because it is getting confused with the chicken coop scene in The Lady and The Tramp). No, I do not wish to loosen up. I wish to learn. "Okay, then, learn." (Why has this voice in my head a US accent?) Then that is my conclusion: I wish to learn.

31 December 2007
With only six weeks before this weblog is thee years old, I have many observations. Most obviously, I have maintained writing the weblog. Sometimes I have written only once in a few months. On other occasions I have written more than one posting each day. This accords with writing my personal journal. I imagined that writing this weblog would reduce the frequency at which I wrote personal journal entries. However, the reverse seems to be true, the more I write, the more there is to write. To be precise, the more I write, the more things I notice that I consider to be worth writing about. This dated postscript also points to some processes I have chosen to adopt: to add postscripts to existing postings; to amend and augment existing postings, improving and enriching them conceptually and in terms of their language; to publish unfinished postings, leaving them in the public domain until I am ready to finish them; the dates of publication do not necessarily reflect the dates of entries. I recognise that these processes move this weblog towards being a website, about which I feel reasonably comfortable. I am also comfortable about moving particular postings, once they are sufficiently complete, onto my website, for example regarding the use of politically correct language. A much larger topic that I have been developing in this weblog, about Green issues, is in the slow process of being moved onto a website of its own. This point also highlights that I have started three other weblogs: a family weblog (Sound Signs) to which Janet and Jemima also make occasional contributions; a University-based professional counselling weblog (Subceptions); and a much more edgy scrachpad for nascent ideas, a weblog that I keep private. The project, involving four weblogs and three websites (I also manage a sizable website about counselling for the University) is, in all probability, about creating an essay base. (I am a Commonwealth pamphleteer three and a half centuries too late.) Unlike in my personal journal, in which I write carefully but not self-consciously, here in these weblogs I am aware of how my writing may be understood or misunderstood. I do not value having to be online to make a posting, not only because getting online is not always easy, but also preferring the spontaneity of pen and paper. On the other hand, I like that what I write is saved in electronic format, and consequently is available to all the advantages open to electronic text.

When I started this weblog I had already rejected the abbreviation 'blog'. My dislike for the abbreviation has deepened: whoever coined the word would appear to have an undeveloped auditory appreciation of the English language: block, bloke, blob, blot, bodge, bog, log, hog, blubber, plug, plod. These are not words that I would choose as auditory neighbours to a medium as versatile and dynamic as online journalling. Further, the word 'blog', as distinct from the abbreviation (it seems that few people realise that the word is an abbreviation), has no obvious relationship with anything to do with writing.I thought of several alternatives, but each already has a bona fide claim made by an alternative meaning.

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