Rough Theory

Theory In The Rough

Just In Time

I have a specific order of attack when I encounter a new blog. I’m generally drawn there by a link from somewhere or other, so I’ll start wherever that link lands me. If something about the voice of that post piques my interest, I’ll then go back to the beginning – to the very first post in the archive – to see how and why the blog started. If that beginning is intriguing, promising, or puzzling, I’ll then work my way forward through the archives from there, trying to capture a sense of the milestones through which that blog author discovered their “voice”. Sometimes, of course, this voice is there from the beginning – as seems to be the case for a blog I stumbled across today: Doing Justice, whose first post captures several issues I think are important, not just in relation to blogging, but in relation to critical theory:

Many people who blog on law-related topics are quick and smart (and, I’m guessing, male). I am smart, but I am not quick. By the time I’m aware that an issue is “hot” it has been so thoroughly examined by all the usual suspects that there seems nothing left to say about it. And yet, as I rattle through the archives trying to catch up with what was said last week, I’m often left feeling that discussions crystalize prematurely. Issues become defined and sides are taken before some important or, at least, peculiar, facets have been allowed to emerge. My comment that might have sent the conversation in an interesting (to me) direction after the first hour or two no longer seems to have any relevance by the end of the day. Maybe I never understood what the conversation was about, but maybe I did and my failure to speak up allowed a door to be shut that would have been better left open.

The post concludes: “So, this blog. I’ll go ahead and comment, secure in the knowledge that no one will hear me.” Since I read new blogs backwards, I have no idea whether the author still feels this way. But the juxtaposition of the post content, with the way in which the post resonated for me when I read it today, caused me to think about how, for all the speed and rapid shifts of attention that get so much attention in analyses of the blogosphere, what is perhaps most striking about the medium is actually the way in which it sediments these rapidfire discursive movements, ossifying discussions after history has left them behind, and preserving ephemeral thoughts for future reflection. If by chance the tumult prevents you from being heard when the topic was fresh, the thought remains, ready to be recaptured when, perhaps, it is no longer too new to hear…

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