Clive Thompson’s article compares blogs and messages to books through the sheer bulk of the writing, as well as the function and purpose of that writing. He argues that writing is useful because it changes the way in which people handle their own personal thoughts. As the article explains, “By putting half-formed thoughts on the page, we externalize them and are able to evaluate them much more objectively” (Thompson 51). The idea is that any form of personal writing, from essays to blogs to jotted-down notes, allows people to critically examine their thought process as if they have become the reader. It further notes that there is a visible trend in writers, namely poets, whose ideas aren’t fully formed until they hit the page.
From my own experience, I often have specific sentences or phrases floating in my head, and the rest is just a vague concept. It’s impossible to carry an entire story, or even an entire poem, just floating in my head, so I need to be able to write it down in order to put everything in order and tie the loose ends. However, once the idea meets paper, the idea has already solidified, and there isn’t much changing it from the original intent.
The idea of the audience effect, and the “threat of an audience” when there’s likely no one reading the piece, is something I have personally struggled with for a long time (Thompson 54). I have ideas for blog posts that I want to write, but they reveal too much of my personal thoughts for me to want my friends or my parents to run into them. Instead of posting certain things to Facebook, I’ll send them as messages to one or two people who share my same experiences and sense of humor. In order to publish, I must choose between tailoring my work and tailoring the audience.
- Thompson, Clive. “Public Thinking.” Smarter than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better. Westminster: Penguin Press HC, 2013.