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the power of the read and the written 2.0

yesterday i was on my way to work and came across a wonderful gift to the world. the residents of 34 nicholson st, had left a whole bunch of books out on their verandah with a sign saying 'free to good home'!

eep! how excitement!

these free books weren't lame fiction that you would gladly walk on by either, i picked up a small pile including classics such as:
evenlyn waugh's decline and fall,
thoman mann's confessions of felix krull,
flaubert's madame bovary,
arthur miller's death of a salesman

and the clincher for me..
dh lawrence's kangaroo (i had made a note last week in my phone to borrow this book from the library!).

as i was writing a little thankyou note to them on their sign, i realised what a fantastic act of altruism these people had completed. they could have sold the books, or given them to Goulds, sent them to the op shop or kept them for themselves, but by putting them out there for people to pick up, they gave people like me not only a pile of excellent and necessary fiction, but a fantastic feeling of discovery and inclusion with them, by sharing their books.

so to the residents of no.34, thank you.

thinking about the gift of the written word, i came back to a post i had been slowly constructing about the written word 2.0 - on the web and especially through blogging. british-german artist and my long lost cousin* marcus brown has written a wonderfully heartfelt post about the phenomenon of online connection and i wanted to add to it.

before Alexander Graham Bell made things a whole lot easier for us, the written word was the main way we got to know people and allowed others to know us. Letters were written and delivered regularly, books were treasured, journals kept and the style and tone of a person's writing was the primary way to know anyone not living within a horse-ride. A variety of technological advancements meant that we became far more accustomed to relating to people in a far more empirical manner - through the sound of their voice, or the expressions on their faces, especially once televised communications cruised onto the scene. Now, although we're certainly in an age of increased imagery, the advent of the far more interactive internet v2.0 means that we are also communicating again through writing.

we have revolved to judging others on the power, tone and truth of their written word.

in the last couple of months, i've found myself a bunch of strange and inspiring online communities, through the blogs that people write and the comment threads that accompany them. And unlike the early chatrooms of the internet, the communication and cameraderie in these 'spaces' feel quite authentic, attached to some real discussion and self-disclosure (and i'm not talking teenagers talking about their crush on jesse mccartney here). 10 years ago i used to hang out in a mountain-biking chatroom through yahoo. believe it or not, i was mad for MTB, until i busted the radial head on my right arm and still carry a pin in my elbow because of it. anyway i made some friends there and ended up biking with one of them.

since then, it's become even easier again to develop friendships online and the kinds of discussion is more indepth. usually from a main point of departure. i look forward to reading about my blog friends' thoughts, feelings. ideas and experiences. and the thing about being part of their comment threads is that they (seem to) respect my thoughts, feelings, ideas and experiences too. especially because i am not afraid to use my name and link to my own blog, where, in turn, i express my thoughts, feelings, ideas and experiences.

and when i think about it, i believe this is the key to the traditionally-illogical-but currently-quite-normal interaction between bloggers - equal amounts of honesty and disclosure. if someone posts anonymously on my blog, or doesn't link to their own blog (unless i already know them), i'm highly unlikely to give a shit about them. however, when there's a reciprocal blogger, i'm open to checking out their blog and becoming their 'friend'. most of my online friends have been found that way and i think they probably operate similarly. not an absolute rule, but it's certainly a large part of how i interact online these days.

the thing i love about this whole blogging connection is the fact that i'm hanging out with kids who, given usual social circumstances, i would be too shit-scared to talk to.

talking about this with a friend who isn't quite so open online, i explained to her that although there is a level of anonymity afforded everyone online and this opens us up for exploitation, those of us who generate online content and spend the amount of time on others' sites (like i do), we can see a bullshit artist a mile away. it's very clear, very quickly who is been much less than authentic and they don't actually 'last' that long as no-one really bothers to pay attention to them.

i think that for the most part, humans crave authenticity and i believe we perpetuate that in any place we interact. whether that face to face with a handshake, or online with a thought-provoking comment. maybe i'm naive and have actually been chatting with a bunch of murderers and paedophiles, but i actually don't think so. hell, even lonelygirl15 was 'outed', when people could easily have continued to believe unquestioningly. the thing about technology and the web 2.0 is that humans have created it, so it's unlikely going to be that far removed from a sense of humanity, even at its most inhumane.

i've been accused of being wedded to the web, and while i'm not the biggest technolovinwhore i know, i am grateful for growing up when i did, being open to the changes in communication and the resulting connections i've been able to have through my words online. and whilst every now and again i shake my head in marvel at the surreality of 'meeting' people through bits and bytes, there is a larger part of me that accepts that this is actually quite normal and am thankful for my ability to read and write.

*marcus isn't really my cousin, i just thought i'd be a bit cheeky. but with a common surname like brown - who knows!



At 24 March, 2007 02:24, Blogger Age said...

Great post, Lauren.
Summed up beautifully.

Oh btw, i am one chapter away from finishing Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close so was stoked to see you mention it on Marcus' blog. It's probably one of the best books I've read in my whole life... I just love the style of writing mixed with such heart wrenching sadness. The characters are sooooo strong. Unlike other novels, I've actually taken my time reading it because I want to make it last longer. Is that weird? Probably, but I look forward to posting about it when I'm done.

Ps. You ARE naive and I AM a murderer.

Looking forward to coffee when you're in Melbourne!

At 24 March, 2007 04:35, Blogger lauren said...

hey age! yay and yay.

yay. i'm sooo glad you've read that book! it comes up in my life all the time and i find myself mentioning to people (who mst think i'm strange) ... i know what you mean with taking your time. i couldn't make it last that long though- i had to devour it!

yay. you're a murderer too! i'm actually a 75-year old child rapist... coffee will be fun indeed! LOL!

At 24 March, 2007 08:26, Blogger Amelia said...

Lauren - I found your blog through the comment that you had left on Marcus's. Glad that I clicked through and found it - enjoyed your writing style and the stuff that you talk about a lot! Enjoy the weekend, Amelia

At 24 March, 2007 09:50, Anonymous peter said...

hi Lauren,nice piece- I'm 50 yrs old and, although I do have Luddite pretensions, have grown to love the blog world and see the real importance of such a phenomena. I guess my piont is that although the other 50plus persons that i know generally look at blogging ,( and pretty much anything else that's outside of their realm) as being a youngperson's way of wasting valuable time /work/etc, it's become an incredibly easy way for all of us to engage and exchange.
Love ya work- peter (stanwell park)

At 25 March, 2007 02:38, Blogger Stan Lee said...

Without wishing to resort to cliche, I believe blogging has removed one of the six degrees of separation.

Never met Marcus, Amelia, or you for that matter, but I consider you all friends.

We're all quite different and yet so similar.

Brings to minds that old sixties saying, 'brother from another mother.'

I'm rambling now. Sorry...Stan

At 26 March, 2007 13:18, Blogger lauren said...

please forgive the lateness of my reply - i've been cut to dial-up speed and it's agony.

amelia - nice to meet you and glad you enjoy it! i'm sure i'll see you around the traps

peter - thank you for your kind words and i'm glad that you've seen the light! lol! stanwell park is beautiful, and i'm leaving the wollongong area this weekend, so pity we won't get to run into each other.

stan - you funny fella.. just think of rambling as payback for me vomitting my bile about nike all over your blog a while back :)


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