Blogging is all the rage these days, and for good reason: writers have finally regained the ability to publish themselves. Since the invention of the printing press, writers have, for the most part, relied on others to distribute their words to the world. Scribes were no longer good enough – to be competitive, you needed the power of the press, and that marginalized a great many writers. Even before the press, of course, you still needed help, such as a company of scribes and some type of distribution network in order to be successful.
With a few notable exceptions, of course. Moses, for example, seemed to do okay, seeing as how he’s probably the most published author ever. However, I suspect his success as an author was for the most part post-humous. The Apostle Paul also did okay, having established a pretty good network of churches by which to distribute his letters (not that this was his intention, necessarily). Martin Luther’s blog was the now-famous door of Castle Church in Wittenberg. Luther knew his target audience, to be sure, and got more attention than he probably expected.
But, for the most part, your ordinary thinker/writer either had to have money or a publisher to avoid fading into literary oblivion.
Blogs, with the assistance of today’s search technology, have changed all that. Anyone with access to a computer has a chance at blog success. Bloggers may even render the mainstream news media obsolete (one can only hope…), if they haven’t already.
The other day, I was thinking about how the blog is not unlike the prehistoric cave-painting. Of course, the phrase “prehistoric cave-painting” is probably an oxymoron, as the cave-painting probably qualified as history, at the time. All a cave-dwelling philosopher needed was a good wall and whatever they used for paint, and his ideas were there for all the known world to see. It didn’t matter whether it met someone else’s editorial guidelines or marketability analysis (unless the cave belonged to someone else…).
Some parallels have been made between cave-painting and modern-day graffiti, but I disagree. Graffiti is typically done on someone else’s property, without their permission. No self-respecting tagger would waste his time on his own wall. With cave-painting and blogging, however, there’s no vandalism – it’s just plain, legitimate self-publishing.
Blogging is, in a very real sense, freedom of speech. It’s free from financial constraints, free from editorial controls (and even free from acceptable grammar and spelling rules, and unfortunately even free from good taste and morality). Cave-painting, all over again.
Thanks for visiting my cave.