The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Saturday, March 08, 2003

The purchase of Blogger by Google has set off speculation as to why Google would be interested in getting into the blogging game in the first place. Slate's Steven Johnson offers up the intriguing concept of integrating Blogger's archiving utility with Google's search engine to create instant long-term records of one's online research. This would be a crucial step forward in realizing the Memex machine theorized by Vannevar Bush half a century ago.

This is some really cool stuff. A sample of the applications:

"One feature might work like this: Each time I search for something on Google, a list of URLs is generated. When I click on one of those URLs, the page I've selected is automatically blogged for me: storing for posterity the text and location of the document. If I were an exhibitionist sort, I could choose to publish this list to the world, but more likely I'd keep it as a private archive, visible only to me. It would be a kind of outsourced memory, but one capable of making new connections on its own. Google could easily generate a list of all the pages that linked to the pages in my archive, or notify me if a page I discovered two years ago suddenly grew popular. I'd have the option of searching just my personal archive, instead of the entire Web—or searching the archive's extended family: both the pages I've surfed through, and the Web sites that link to those pages."

This resonates with me. I've been aware for awhile now that, in a very rudimentary way, I've been using this blog as my "outsourced memory" of interesting links I come across on the Web. I used to send myself an email from work to home most days, filled with nothing but links to articles, games, news items, etc. Those emails would reside on my computer for months at a time, my little reference library. I now find that I hardly ever do this, and much of the stuff I would have formerly kept to myself in email storage now winds up getting blogged instead.

So in a sense, I'm already doing what's proposed above. I'm not all the way there, for a couple of reasons. One, it takes work to remember to save a URL to every item of note I find; if it were an effortless task, like I'd imagine this Google-Blogger meld would be, then it would blossom. Two, not everything I run across is deemed worthy of saving by yours truly, even if it is interesting, because it's not enough so or because I don't feel it's blog-worthy. Third, it's something of a challenge to keep up with my archives; if I ever move this blog off BlogSpot, that's the first thing I'd improve. Still, it's great to know that I'm on the cutting edge.

I put the question to you, particularly any other bloggers reading this. Has keeping a blog changed your online habits similar to my experience? Naturally, this would apply more to those who keep news-type blogs with plenty o' links, versus what amounts to an online diary/journal.