After my last post on the international character of the historic 2008 presidential election, I now leave the U.S. to observe things from afar (after having just cast my absentee ballot for Barack Obama). No, I’m not going to observe in any official capacity—instead, I’m headed off to the beaches of Bali. My good friends Derek and Karina are getting married on the Indonesian island this Saturday and my girlfriend and I will be there to celebrate. Then, after going all that way, we figured we’d hang around a bit, so we’ll spend two weeks exploring Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. Starting tomorrow, I’m off-line and off-blog for two solid weeks, returning on November 12. Sherry will keep things under control in my absence.
I leave you with a thought-provoking article from Andrew Sullivan on why he blogs. The essay is Sullivan’s first attempt, after more than eight years as a blogger, to grapple with the meaning of blogging as a medium. He tries to define the unique nature of blogging versus other writing forms:
No columnist or reporter or novelist will have his minute shifts or constant small contradictions exposed as mercilessly as a blogger’s are. A columnist can ignore or duck a subject less noticeably than a blogger committing thoughts to pixels several times a day. A reporter can wait—must wait—until every source has confirmed. A novelist can spend months or years before committing words to the world. For bloggers, the deadline is always now. Blogging is therefore to writing what extreme sports are to athletics: more free-form, more accident-prone, less formal, more alive. It is, in many ways, writing out loud.
He makes a persuasive argument that blogging is not the death of traditional, long-form writing, but rather makes this kind of writing that much more necessary:
A blogger will air a variety of thoughts or facts on any subject in no particular order other than that dictated by the passing of time. A writer will instead use time, synthesizing these thoughts, ordering them, weighing which points count more than others, seeing how his views evolved in the writing process itself, and responding to an editor’s perusal of a draft or two. The result is almost always more measured, more satisfying, and more enduring than a blizzard of posts. The triumphalist notion that blogging should somehow replace traditional writing is as foolish as it is pernicious. In some ways, blogging’s gifts to our discourse make the skills of a good traditional writer much more valuable, not less. The torrent of blogospheric insights, ideas, and arguments places a greater premium on the person who can finally make sense of it all, turning it into something more solid, and lasting, and rewarding.
Read the essay. It is infinitely worth your time. See you in two weeks.