Saturday, May 23, 2009

I blog, therefore I am. Right?

Being a freelance copywriter who has been making a living from writing and editing for a lot longer than the World Wide Web has been in use, there is no escape for me: I will need to blog to keep up with the rest of the world. With the people who live in urban environments and who are connected to the internet, that is. Thus, with you.

The problem for me is that for most of my admittedly very modest career as a writer and editor, I have worked, either as an employee or freelance, for large corporations or ad agencies who paid healthily for specific projects. “Write an article on an ISO 9000 quality project”, “Please make a brochure on this natural gas field exploration project because we can’t explain it to people otherwise - oh, and money is no object.” “Can you write a book on the 100-year history of a major theatre, including most of the research, in three months?”
Things like that. My texts were sold before they had even been written. At least someone wanted to read them - or offer them to other people to read.

Nowadays, everybody and his dog blogs and twitters. Some people apparently can’t turn a street corner without feeling a desperate need to shout about it on the internet. Two years ago almost nobody ever felt that need, but now we must.

I really don’t think it will help us to become more open towards people. I fear that many city dwellers will turn their street corners looking down on their phone screens, thumb-messaging their way to carpal tunnel syndrome, while completely ignoring all sorts of interesting things happening in the real world around them.

Still, it’s the world we live in, so I will leave some musings here from time to time. I have even opened a Twitter account (protected for the moment). Weird.

The only thing I may offer is a slightly different viewpoint on things compared to that of the twittering European or American city-dweller. For two reasons: first, I live in a rural setting where even ordinary mobile phone networks offer no perfect coverage, 3G is all but non-existent, where the density of wifi hotspots is something like one per 100 square kilometres and the fastest ADSL broadband we can get is 2 megabits per second (and up to a year ago, we had no ADSL at all), the nearest fiberoptic node is probably about 50 kms away and any twittering going on is that of the birds. My life does not exist of running through a city looking for the nearest Starbucks where a geotagged friend is just having a Frappucino - a lot of it, when not writing or trying to keep up with the world through the web, is filled with things like shoveling donkey manure, mowing grass, making slow progress in finishing our home, watching real birds nesting around the house...

Secondly, I take to the skies in a hot-air balloon a few dozen times each summer. And even though that balloon now carries a GPS receiver to keep track of where it is and where it is going, and we communicate by radio or mobile phone with out retrieve vehicle, it remains a very oldfashioned way of traveling through the skies: you move with the winds, with very little influence on your track and no way to know where you will end up. It’s the ultimate opposite of the twitter-blogging urban rat race.

Anyway, we live in the era of ‘I blog, therefore I am’, so I’ll blog. A bit. Sometimes.

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