When Blogging Is No Longer Technology

– Posted in: Blogging Art and Practice, Recommended Links
10 comments

My website as a graph

We perceive something to be technology only when it is still new and, like most new things, not quite working the way it’s supposed to. Nobody thinks that the wheel is technology, though it’s as important a piece of technology as humanity has ever invented. . . .

It is when people stop thinking of something as a piece of technology that the thing starts to have its biggest impact. Wheels, wells, books, spectacles were all once wonders of the world; now they are everywhere, and we can’t live without them. The internet hasn’t quite got to that point, but it is getting there.
from A bigger bang | Weekend | Guardian Unlimited

I am old enough to remember watching black-and-white television and playing music on a phonograph, when a map was something you unfolded from a glove compartment and searching was something you did with a flashlight, looking for socks under the bed. I feel like I stand over a gap, one foot planted on each side, and I’m always looking for ways to narrow that gap, to bring the two sides together. The older gardeners, the ones with the most experience and knowledge to share, often just don’t see the point of the internet and all that has become available through it. Yet I have read many garden blogs, written by gardeners of a certain age, who say, “I never dreamed how many friends I would make, and with people from all over the world.”

If you are one of those gardeners, you should read the essay I quoted above. The world is changing, and we all need to be thinking about how it is changing, and what that will mean for us, and our children, and our grandchildren.The automobile and the television both changed life in the United States dramatically, and how much thought did we devote to anticipating how life would change?

I do look at my own life to see how accessing the world wide web every day has changed it. I garden less and write more. I read more on my computer screen but fewer books. I have more friends but know less about them. But still, I am wary. I mistrust myself. Is it merely a tool, or has it become a crutch? Has it taken away more than it has added?

I just learned that the primary creator of WordPress, the software that runs this site, is 22. Twenty-two. Incredible. You can learn about Matt Mullenweg and the other people behind tomorrow’s taken-for-granted technology, (including Blogger, Wikipedia, and Flickr, among others) by reading the interviews on this page.

I generally try to stick to gardening as a topic, but I found The Guardian’s whole report on Web 2.0 to be fascinating and thought-provoking. I hope you do, too. I’m interested in your thoughts.

About the image: I went to Websites as Graphs and entered my website address. The abstract image above was the result.
What do the colors mean?
blue: for links (the A tag)
red: for tables (TABLE, TR and TD tags)
green: for the DIV tag
violet: for images (the IMG tag)
yellow: for forms (FORM, INPUT, TEXTAREA, SELECT and OPTION tags)
orange: for linebreaks and blockquotes (BR, P, and BLOCKQUOTE tags)
black: the HTML tag, the root node
gray: all other tags

Thanks to Hank of Lake County for pointing the way there. I discovered his blog when he commented on Garden Rant, and I’m still exploring his Garden section.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

When dealing with frost it is always best to be paranoid. In the spring never think it is too late for one more frost to come. And in the fall never think it too early.

~Rundy in Frost

Comments on this entry are closed.

kerri November 16, 2006, 9:38 am

Interesting post and comments Kathy.
I love the way blogging has broadened my horizons but it does tend to keep me away from the garden (and other things, like reading books) more than it should. I need to reach a happy medium. But there are so many interesting people and gardens out there! 🙂
Lately though, with all our rain, I can’t get anything done outside. The ground is too soggy even when the rain isn’t falling. I’m longing for sunshine!
I too like the followup comments feature.
Regarding your thoughts on involving more older gardeners in blogging: quite a few folks in the older age bracket are just not interested in computers or are intimidated by them I think. It helps to have a younger person (son/daughter, grandson/granddaughter, etc.) who will encourage them.
My computer engineer son encouraged me, and at first I said, “What would I do with a computer?” Little did I know! I’m glad I decided to try one 🙂

Kathy Purdy November 15, 2006, 7:22 am

Neil, I am in the coldest part of the Southern Tier of upstate NY. If you look at a USDA hardiness map for my state, you see a finger of purple zone 4 extending south through the middle of NY. I am just a bit west of the southernmost reach of that finger, but still zone 4 because of local conditions. By the way, this information is available on my website here. A lot of people never get beyond the blog, but I do have a lot of other information that a simple click on the menu will take you to.

Neil Moran November 14, 2006, 9:00 pm

Kathy, glad I stopped by. You’ve collected a lot of good information on cold climate gardening here. By the way, where do you garden? I’m here in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, “where winter spends its summers,” as the old-timers say. Despite the short summers I have managed to grow everything from “carrots to cantaloupe”(well, at least one cantaloupe!). As you know, it is a joy gardening where ever you live.

Kathy Purdy November 12, 2006, 9:29 pm

Cyndy, Neil, and Annie–it’s true we have to make choices, and I think Neil’s metaphor of a smorgasbord is very apt. But I was also interested in the idea that when something works, when it becomes normal or common, we no longer regard it as technology. For gardeners in their sixties and older (and I know I am generalizing) blogging is technology, maybe impenetrable, unknowable, not-even-interested technology. For gardeners in their twenties, blogging is of course a way to communicate, just like of course I know how to use a telephone. I’m interested in how I could make the internet in general, and blogging in particular, become a familiar, easy, and useful place for older gardeners.

Neil–thanks for stopping by. I thought your name sounded familiar, but it wasn’t until I checked out your website that I realized it was because you wrote North Country Gardening: Simple Secrets to Successful Northern Gardening, which just may be the “grandaddy” of cold climate gardening books. I wish I could say it was the first one I ever read, but unfortunately I didn’t discover it until years later, when I searched on amazon for anything about cold climate gardening.

Annie–WordPress is very customizable. (The full-fledged version, not WordPress.com) I like to be notified of new comments myself, so I was happy to take advantage of a WordPress plugin called “Subscribe to Comments.” Sometimes I see the word Comments at the bottom of a Bloglines entry, but I’m not sure what it means. New comments since last time it checked? or merely comments are present?

Annie in Austin November 12, 2006, 7:01 pm

Meandering thoughts on this: Some of the new technology may be new ideas, but most just reworks and patches existing inventions. The value of some improvements will depend on our previous choices from Neil’s ‘smorgasboard’ menu… who cares about Tivo after we’ve declined cable TV?

Rework a washing machine and you’re improving a gussied-up bucket with a pounding stick. Those of us who read science fiction were expecting something more revolutionary by now! We want to hang the clothes in a special closet, where waves/vibrations make them clean, saving vast quantities of fresh water.

As a consumer of blogging technology, I’m enjoying it a great deal, but it doesn’t always address some of my basic needs. When Bloglines tells me there’s a new post, I go to the website – how else could I read the comments? But Bloglines doesn’t tell me when there’s a new comment, so I still waste time rechecking for additions to the conversations. Your set-up lets me check a notify box for additional comments, which I appreciate. Kathy, how did this function come to be part of your garden blog?

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Neil Moran November 12, 2006, 4:38 pm

I was thinking about this the other day. I don’t think anyone would argue that you need a washing machine (would they?). But now we’re at a point where there are so many new technologies that we have to make a choice of what is making our lives better and what is just clutter. This is a personal choice, of course. Just a note: I won’t allow mayself to be on the internet on the weekends (until Sunday evening, at least). This way it forces me to get ourside and garden or stay inside and read a good book. I was spending too much time inside, even on some nice days. When it comes to this new technology, it is like we have a smorgasboard of food in front of us all the time and we have to choose what and how much is good for us to eat. Just some thoughts.

Neil Moran

cyndy November 11, 2006, 8:13 pm

Great insights Kathy…I too wonder if it (internet and computer in general) has enhanced or detracted the time that has been spent ….I guess the jury is still out on that one…

Kathy Purdy November 11, 2006, 2:54 pm

Holly–thanks for stopping by to let me know. I have a Bloglines account myself and subscribe to my own feed just to monitor for problems. I think the same thing happened to my image as I have seen happen to other blogs–the image just took an incredibly long time to load in Bloglines. I left it open to my feed, did all my other business in another tab, and eventually the image showed up. I checked it out in another feed reader and the image came up immediately, so I think it is a problem with Bloglines.

I personally prefer my readers to come to the website, so please come by often.

bill November 11, 2006, 10:20 am

I need to spend less time on the internet and more time gardening.

Holly Hancock November 11, 2006, 8:39 am

Bloglines is not handling your feed well. Your graphics are labeled but inaccessible.