How to blog like an anthropologist
Blogging about blogging is a self absorbed activity and normally I avoid it. But there is, I think, a substantial opportunity that has not yet been well explored.
Blogs are a great medium for the anthropological study of our culture. This is especially so because anthropologists themselves have not used the conventional media of books and articles.
Certainly, there has been a little work on the topic of contemporary culture. Lloyd Warner did a magnificent study of Yankee City (Newburyport, MA, I think) and Evon Vogt did a little study of a tiny town in Texas (see post below).
But the most of the work here has been preoccupied with culture on the margin. Anything ‘transgressive gets lots of attention. The mainstream, that endlessly restless experiment in cultural invention, gets almost nothing at all. Much of this is now unrecorded and lost.
Here today and truly gone tomorrow. It is the fine details of lived experience that are most precious to our understanding of a cultural moment, and it is these details that are now systematically lost as we move briskly away from the present.
Someone has to write things down, and why not bloggers? The hero here is Samuel Pepys, the 17th century Londoner who won immortality for himself by keeping a detailed record of his life. We have a pretty good understanding of the Great Fire of London from various documents. But nothing captures the power and the panic of this event like the entry in Pepys.
Too often bloggers offer us “dear diary entries: went to the bank, bought a new album, phoned my friend and went for coffee. This is not just dreary, it is, for anthropological purposes, not very illuminating. What we need, or what the future historical will need, is something much more detailed.
More tomorrow when we will discuss how to document your fridge. (Sorry, internet access is been restricted. Appear now to be back in business.)