Pat Kane uses Posterous, which was shutdown shortly after being bought by twitter in 2012, and tumblr as examples of meso-blogging platforms. The idea is that they are, obviously, more expansive than twitter in terms of character limits but also that they offer a flexibility and fluidity in terms of types of content that can be posted and pathways for posting content. Since 2009, however, when Kane first wrote about meso-blogging in his post Meso-blogging: or, posting between the poles of micro- and macro-blogging, virtually every blogging platform has converged around these same principles. You can tweet from most apps on your smartphone. You can blog straight from youtube (in fact, youtube channels are themselves a sort of video blog platform), and you can post just about anything to tumblr from just about anywhere, perhaps even from your Texas Instruments TI-85 graphing calculator.
I want to use the concept of meso-blogging a bit differently, and the difference in my usage stems from my admittedly conservative and resistant-to-change academic socialization. In its finest form, the Internet is our 21st century salon (although with pretentious inclinations). The problem is that, in its worst form, the Internet is nothing but noise (and often crude, hurtful, and ignorant noise). How do we find the middle ground? Fortunately there is a trend toward curation of content. Medium is an example of such an attempt. But who filters the filterers?
My attempt here is to be my own filter and my own curator. Twitter is not curated. But since most of what circulates on twitter are links to long-form content, by carefully selecting who you follow you can get what is essentially curated content. But this is time consuming and too much noise makes its way through. The role of a public intellectual is to provide “curated thoughts,” if you will. The problem is that a PhD used to be a credible credential to claim the status of public intellectual. I don’t lament those times. The ivory tower is crumbling and we’re better off for it. But it also leaves us in a predicament. Are we to rely on the technology to curate content for us? If not, whose ideas do we trust?
I’ll be meso-blogging here, by which I mean providing an intellectual middle-ground. Where I have attempted macro-blogging, first at the curious stall and currently at Invisible Cyclist, I have held myself to too high a standard, most likely on account of my academic training which taught me to write as if every piece of writing will be peer reviewed. This generally means no use of first person, elimination of language implying causation, and certainly no infiltration of personal political or other views into one’s writing. For me, then, meso-blogging is that space in which I can simultaneously transcend the character constraints of twitter and the “publish or perish” mentality that shapes academic writing. In my next post I’ll get a little philosophical about what this actually means.