Last Friday I gave a presentation to my bosses about this year’s South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, TX, which I attended in March with a colleague.
Highlighting for them the latest digital trends, hardware innovations and hot internet memes showing up IRL at SxSW such as Grumpy Cat (yes there is a glossary of geeky terms at the end of this blogpost, just in case you were now feeling overwhelmed), I realised that there was one major innovation I was missing, and I have been missing ever since I have been writing my first prose: the “scriptwalker”.
For those unfamiliar with the scriptwalker, it’s an imaginary machine that can transcribe your thoughts and type them on a sheet of paper (at the time it was imagined by Enki Bilal in La Femme Piège, an iconic French comic book), but which could just as well send the transcript in electronic format to any virtual storage space you set by default.
I have been longing for such a machine for ages, and my craving has reached proportions beyond imagination recently, as I haven’t been able to write a single blogpost in the last three months, despite a neatly kept list of all the wonderfully exciting topics I want to share with YOU (rest assured, Grumpy Cat is not one of them).
Imagine writing a book with a scriptwalker – a piece of cake. Imagine all these fantastic ideas you’ve had at 3am, and were too lazy to stand up and get a pen and piece of paper for. Let’s take a step further and imagine that the scriptwalker could actually transcribe your dreams – what a fabulous invention this would be, how it would radically unleash human creativity, for each and everyone of us!
I can already hear YOU shouting “No!” in front of your screen. Millions of idiots pouring out their stupid, racist, insensitive, in one word useless thoughts on the Internet and flooding us with them, this is what the scriptwalker will make possible. We already have to endure this, albeit in 140 characters only, on Twitter. But I don’t buy into this, I want to see the positive side of future innovations, especially if it’s one helping us get rid of idiots!
The end of blogs?
Another take away from South by was the lack of interest of the digital avant-garde in blogs. Blogs are not hype anymore, and most websites are now blogs and have learned the SEO and tagging and other tricks from blogs. In fact WordPress and Blogger are being used today more to create websites than “pure” blogs.
While the end of blogs at South by was perceived by most as a natural technological evolution, I see it as a deeper symptom of our relationship to information. Blogs require to write, so much for the obvious, but also to think and take your time. And taking your time is like a swearword on the Internet now. Look at our impulsive use of social networks, Twitter and Facebook in particular. We are compelled to share snapshots of our lives, moments of joy or sadness, and more often than not, things that makes us laugh. I am certainly no exception, but what I enjoy even more than sharing my life is sharing my thoughts and my thinking and confronting it to that of others. It used to be called a conversation, but that conversation is now potential (there’s no guarantee people will comment on and react to your blogs) and potentially global.
Our lives are becoming so filled with information that maintaining a blog, building an audience for our thoughts and nurturing a conversation is becoming increasingly challenging. Email overload, social media fatigue, the tantrums of everyday life as a working mother and active engagement in a non profit makes writing blogposts much more than a challenge – a sort of Graal, a space where time is mine only and I can think about anything (except grumpy cats).
Blogs are so reassuring because they create a thin but real bond between humans who realise that despite their differences, despite the physical distance that keeps them apart, they think alike and share the same interests, dilemmas, existential questions. I hope blogs will not disappear in the future: they remind me everyday of how incredibly diverse and at the same time similar we humans are, all this in a format that forces us to think, both when we write and when we read.
The parallel rise of visual content on the Internet and ubiquitous computing, also known as the Internet of things, could very well mean the end of blogs. How long will it take in your opinion before a future South by festival announces the official death of blogs?
PS: a glossary of geeky terms, seriously? 🙂
PPS: for those of you who enjoy irony, I’m writing about the end of (my) blogs on the weekend where I manage to pull off two blogposts…