lines and ripples


Writing is a hard-to-define task. The barriers to entry have never been lower. A person writes something and publishes it straight away. Actually, he or she can do better than just publish: internet platforms allow one to point words at an audience, to wave at all sorts of strangers, famous or otherwise. Even a reply is not out of the question.

Writing is communication. Any sane writer writes to be read, if only by a future self. But the ease of writing and being read online risks obscuring what writing does. The act of writing also produces an effect. Anything that is written, echoes, begins a movement, pushes the writer into a state that is ahead of what can be represented.

There ought to be more zones where ideas can arise, expand, and exhaust themselves--with little resistance along the way. A place for open-ended, reflective writing–-without limits on subject or format–-is a worthwhile project if the point is not to have written, but to follow what happens next.

The arrangement of this site arose out of trial-and-error over the last several years, as I sought out a place for essayistic writing, in a format which allowed for exploration and quick composition. There are two main divisions, a long and a short section, both organized chronologically. There are no absolute differences between these parts, but it occurs to me that the difference between them maps onto two major modalities for writing on the web.

The first value is immediacy: the possibility of a reaction, of creating something new, is always right there. One needn't prepare to write. This has become the purpose of my short site: the chance to record experience soon after it happens, to think through media (particularly photographs), to record and make a memento out of an impression, to produce with quantity.

The second value, represented by the posts/essays on the long section, is freedom of expression. The web that I care about–-that I want to preserve, protect and practice–-allows for a productive distance from authority, gatekeeping and standards. Even with social media, people gather around what is written in established publications. But the internet still has places to get ahead of and alongside formal writing, to try things out, see what works, and have fun because we get to see an idea live, without preconditions. The best part of the open web is that it brings all manner of weird and unclassifiable writing into being, for no immediate purpose other than creative possibility.

(There’s a third division too that I want to pursue, a project section, which would be organized more like a wiki–when I can find the time).

No need to say much more at this point, other than that the overall values of this site include slowing down the internet (a site that’s heavy with text takes time), and avoiding automation (the long site has no tags, for example). I have great sympathy for the idea of an internet made up of documents, where human beings do the work of building links and mapping it together into a beautiful system.

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