Slow Blogging and the Long Take

Recently, I’ve been mulling over the notion of slow blogging, a movement that is gradually gaining attention. I first read about it in a blog I frequent.  In her post entitled “Slow, Stefanie has drawn out the essence of what slow blogging is. It’s all about thinking through, reading and studying in depth, chewing and digesting, and finally putting something meaningful down in words. I don’t know who initiated the idea. It may have sprouted up from various bloggers, those who care about the quality of their writing, and the effects of their posts. I urge my readers to visit the Oxford University Press blog post on the subject, and the Slow Blog Manifesto.

Yes, a Slow Blog Manifesto, written by Todd Sieling dated back to September, 2006. But for some uncanny reasons, just as I was working on my draft of this very post, after I’ve linked the SBM to my draft, it has now been taken off the WWW.  Hope this is not an omen of things to come.  Fortunately, before its disappearance, I had the chance to read and mull over his words:

“Slow Blogging is a rejection of immediacy.  It is an affirmation that not all things worth reading are written quickly.”

(It’s back!  Todd Sieling has just re-posted his SBM. He has created a whole new site just for this.  Click here to go there.  You may want to read his comment at the end of this post. I’m just going to leave the following paragraph as is.)

But then, all is not lost.  Barbara Ganley’s BGBLOGGING is still standing.  Ganley had taught writing at Middlebury College in Vermont for some years until quiting her academic job in recent months and ventured into uncharted personal exploration.  She is an advocate of slow blogging, and related the idea to the term meditative blogging, way back in November 2006.  Here’s the link to that post.

After more than two years, the notion has finally reached Arti of Ripple Effects. As my blog name suggests, I thrive on hindsights and delayed resonance. I may not have immediate response to all that I come across, but for those ideas I find stimulating, I would delve into and mull over, research and read about them, sometimes for a long while, before I dare to put thoughts into words. I’m glad I have finally found a name for the kind of writing and thinking with which I feel most comfortable all along.

leaves-on-pavement-webpage2

And that is why I find a recent article in the November issue of ‘The Atlantic’ so disconcerting.  In his article entitled “Why I Blog”, Andrew Sullivan , the prominent political commentator and blogger, describes blogging as postmodern writing that thrives on its immediacy. By nature it is rash and temporal.

“It is the spontaneous expression of instant thought. As a blogger, you have to express yourself now, while your emotions roil, while your temper flares, while your humor lasts.”

What Sullivan is pronouncing is that you may have an instant platform accessible by all in the blogosphere, and with links authenticating your sources, but what you write is as ephemeral as your breath, as unreliable as your mood, and as momentary as your fleeting thoughts. Time is of the essence in the blogging world.

I can understand such a perspective may apply to political and news blogs, where bloggers’ views and comments are almost on a par with professional journalists, or where bloggers are journalists, such as Sullivan himself.

But I’d just like to remind Sullivan that there are also those of us for whom blogging is not about beating to the punch, or channeling rants and angsts, or climbing to a higher ranking and authority. What we write may seem like ramblings at times, but they are thoughts that have gone through regurgitation, pondering, and conscious self-censure. For the writing I read in some of the blogs I visit, their quality is not undermined by the self-publishing nature of blog writing.  Their message is no less important, their style no less eloquent, their impact no less powerful than many conventionally published materials.

pilings-in-astoria-slow-blogging

Around the same time, I came across the post on the long take in Brett McCracken’s blog The Search. Do click on the link there to read the whole essay when you are there.  The long take is a technique where a camera follows its subject for an extended period of time without cutting, capturing life in real time. Viewers looking for instant gratification and fast actions would often find the long take boring, incongruent to the normal pacing of a normal movie. But as blog writer and movie critic Brett McCracken reflects, the long take leads us to confront life in a real sense, in real time:

I go to movies to recapture time—that achingly pervasive burden that keeps us so unceasingly busy in our normal lives. In the movies, time is “free.” We need not worry about our own time; all that is required of us is that we cede our imagination to the screen, where time is footloose and fancy free, dancing to and fro in flashback, flashforward, slow-mo, still, etc.

voyage-du-ballon-rougeA vivid example is Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s Flight of the Red Balloon which I reviewed in my last post.  Who would want to sit in a theatre to watch a balloon slowly drifting above the urbanscape, other than those who enjoy the grace of unhurried moments, those who consciously seek for poetics in the mundane, and those who take time to ponder the meaning conveyed by the filmmaker.

Slow blogging and the long take, two powerful ways to glean the indelible essence of life.

*****

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Arti

If she’s not birding by the Pond, Arti’s likely watching a movie, reading, or writing a review. Bylines in Asian American Press, Vague Visages, Curator Magazine.

16 thoughts on “Slow Blogging and the Long Take”

  1. As I was writing my latest post, I thought that it was taking way too much time…..I’m exhausted uploading so many photos and links (I’m still not done). I told myself that I didn’t need to post very often and that I should just post when I have something very interesting to offer. People don’t have much time to keep up. By the time we get around to tuning into the latest buzz, many of the issues have been resolved.

    There are many who want to read something that is enduring and of interest beyond the immediate, something they can savor at their lesiure. I was heartened by this post and will check out your links. Blogging is evolving to mean many things, only a few of which mean instant response. I love your definition of ripple effects and why you chose that name.

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  2. Arti, what a lovely post and a perfect example of slow blogging! It seems to me that slow blogging fits quite nicely into the mindset of readers of books. Books after all are generally slow, they take an investment of time and thought and so we are somewhat used to the idea of the slow. Journalism and politics are as you mention based in being quick and so it is in a way natural for those types of bloggers to view blogging as something in the moment and ephemeral. Two different approaches to the world and technology helps, hinders and emphasizes the difference.

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  3. A great post, Arti. Some of my posts take weeks to research and develop, and even then I think I am being too hasty. There are definitely two distinct philosophies of blogging: one caters to immediate news items, like Jane Austen Today, and the other is more personal. I like the idea of blogging without obligation and am starting to head in that direction. Working towards deadlines (reviews for publishers or television show) takes the fun out of what is essentially your personal page.

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  4. What an interesting post. Makes me think about how I’m not blogging as much these days due to increased workload. But I miss it because I found that the act of writing in my blog helped me to keep learning and growing as a writer. Not everything or even most of what I write is really any good. That takes a lot of revision. But there is something to be said for recording ideas when you do have time and going back to the material later. Writing for an audience on my blog takes the rough draft up a notch just as it pushes me to keep writing even when I feel I am too busy.

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  5. Hi Arti,
    Your post is a great read. I’m glad that the ideas in the manifesto resonated with you.

    It is a weird coincidence, and makes your post incredibly timely. I just moved and restarted the slow blog at http://toddsieling.com/slowblog, but in the process the old version was lost (human error, nothing more), but I’m glad to give the project a new home.

    Like Stephanie, I’ve tried to make my reading more deliberate by allowing time for it to happen, though not by reading slow as much as reading smaller pieces in one sitting, and reflecting on those smaller pieces for a longer time. It’s interesting, though it’s a test to take months for a single book 🙂

    Hi Todd, I’m glad you’ve created a new site for your Slow Blog Manifesto. I know a lot of bloggers would resonate with what you’ve written there. Just wondering… do you plan to respond to The New York Times article about your giving up on the idea? I’m sure there are many bloggers out there in the blogosphere who would support the SB Movement once they know about it. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/23/fashion/23slowblog.html?ref=fashion

    Arti

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  6. You may wish to add correct blog tagging as an issue to awaken others too. Ski through some tagged posts and you’ll find far more out-of-parameter rhetoric than writing that pertains.
    SandySays1.wordpress.com

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  7. Thanks for the encouragement, Arti. When Sharon was talking to me about the article, I didn’t have the intention of restarting the blog. After she pointed out to me to others were thinking in the same vein I decided to restart things, but it was too late to update for the article. I’ll send a response to let them know.

    I thought the article was good. It’s inspired me to see what more can be done with slow blogging as a creative mode. The first thing is to open up the idea of the manifesto to other interpretations. I’d like to see other people’s takes on a Slow Blogging Manifesto, to explore the motivations and outcomes of a conscious decision to move slowly in a context that values and often demands fast.

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  8. Very interesting article, Arti! I didn’t know there was such a “movement” out there and that I was part of it! 🙂 Well, actually, I’m so slow I probably won’t fit in it, ha ha. The only trivial disagreement I have with your article is that I don’t think Sullivan qualifies as a journalist.

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  9. Thank you all for taking the time to read, think about, and write down your response. In this time of economic turmoil, and with Thanksgiving and Christmas drawing near, once again we’re reminded that bigger, faster, higher, more and more, may not necessarily be better. The virtue of slowness is incompatible with the norm in our society, one which thrives on speed, immediacy, and competitiveness… maybe now is the time for us to make a turn around.

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  10. I clicked over from The Errant Aesthete and I’m so glad I did. You write beautifully.

    Slowing everything down, at least a bit, can be a challenge, but the rewards are many. While there is a lot to be said for being in the moment, time to reflect and savour is equally important.

    Yes, I think it’s not just slowness, but also solitude too… seems that both have become luxuries nowadays… Thanks for your comment!

    Arti

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  11. “hindsights and delayed resonance” — love this… the implied mulling, stewing, pondering that goes into that which is finally shared. 🙂

    .
    Shari,

    That’s the reason for the name Ripple Effects. 😉

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