Yeah, I don't like to think too much about the public aspect either. Although, it doesn't bother me much in the end. After all, I'm ultimately in control of what I reveal, and, I don't really feel like I have much of anything to hide anyway. Yeah, I'm screwed up, but so is everyone else, each of us in our own special, idiosyncratic little ways. That's what makes people so fascinating and special, after all.

And, I think that maybe that's at the heart of it for me. It's the identification factor, and, as Alison said, the shared experience. I notice that I only tend to read personal sites regularly that are by people who are in a similar situation to me, IE in college or just out, trying to set about the process of making their lives. It's nice to know that there are others going through the same things, and it's enlightening and heartening to read about how they manage to get through and even triumph over the same kinds of obstacles that I'm facing.

And it's even better to see some of the amazing things that so many of my peers are capable of, and to be able to collaborate and feed off of that creative energy. I know that, for whatever reason, I've just never found any sort of artistic/intellectual community here at school that meshed well with who I am and what I care about. Luckily, I've managed to find one online instead. And it's taught me immeasurably about who I am and what I can potentially do with my own talents one day, if I ever manage to get my shit together.

In a way, it's as if I'm learning about my own life vicariously. So, maybe it's like mediated self-voyeurism, if such a thing is possible.
by Jared Dunn on 2/10/2001 10:16:42 AM | bang on

i also would like to think that i read others for more than simple voyeurism. god forbid i should be spending hours a day on that. so if i had to pick something that i think the web community is about for me i'd have to say shared experience. i like reading about how rabi is more bogged down with studying than i am, or how andrew saw the same movie i did but thought it was actually good, or how jared has attention span problems just like i do. the nice thing about sharing your experiences online and reading about the experiences of others is that no matter how weird your evening was or how really strange a revelation you just had, you're never alone. of course, i've met three of the four of you, so perhaps that's why i don't feel alone.

the other thing that occurred to me is the fact that if someone writes about their personal life on the web for a long period of time, the extended narrative they create can become like a short story or novella to the reader. it's like reading a book that continues indefinitely, delivered in three-hundred-word burps rather than in chapters. which, if you think about the narrator as a real person, could be considered voyeurism.

i have come full circle.

by alison headley on 2/10/2001 12:07:36 AM | bang on

well, I wouldn't say I post much in the way of doubts and fears. when I stop and think about writing on the web, it makes me incredibly uncomfortable, so I try not to think about it. the reason I do it is not because I especially like making my life public. it's because I like to write, a lot, and when I have something I know people expect to see updated every day, I find something to write about every day. I can't do that in a journal (when I get tired and frustrated it degenerates into the same thing over and over), or even in my little notebook that I carry around with me (it degerates into fragmented nonsense). and I like communicating with people; I don't have anyone walking around next to me all the time so that I can say, hey, look at that, the way the sun hits off the leaves or did you hear about that new nebula or whatever, so I do it here on the web, in a sort of delayed-response fashion. it does the job. in some ways I think the more puzzling question is not why we do this, but why we pay attention to other people doing it. I honestly think it's much more than simple voyeurism, but I can't quite put my finger on it.
by rabi on 2/7/2001 07:36:35 AM | bang on

Ok, stuff is obviously getting really stagnant around here. We need a spark, something we all feel strongly about and can argue about. So, here's a suggestion...

All of us, to varying degrees, write very personal content for public perusal on our pages. Why do we do this? What possess us to air our most personal doubts, fears, hopes, and so forth in a public forum, where millions of strangers could potentially see it? Everyone here strikes me as quite sincere and unassuming, so I'm guessing it's not a case of looking for attention or popularity or anything obvious like that. So, what is it then? I wrote some of my preliminary thoughts here, but I'd be interested to hear further ideas and opinions from you guys as to what the meaning of all of this heartfelt public personal expression really is. So, like, discuss and such...
by Jared Dunn on 2/6/2001 04:18:02 AM | bang on