Friday, May 16, 2003

Back in January when I assembled the list of links on the left of people blogging places, I did so as a way of noticing a particular kind of weblogging activity. Weblogging as a way of writing was originally about keeping an up to date journal of links and notes about the web. Before I started blogging with Blogger, I had begun to keep notes about living here on Bowen on my website, with hand marked-up pages of html, little essays that were about my experience of living here on Bowen Island.

I did that for about five months. It got more and more sporadic and people who were interested in reading what I was writing were starting to lose interst, and so was I. Luckily I discovered Blogger, and I haven't looked back.

When I started using Blogger to update the Bowen Island Journal a year and a half ago, I had no idea what a weblog was. I simply needed a tool that would allow me to write about my expereince and keep my site updated in a easier fashion. As I discovered more and more about weblogging though, it becasme clear to me that something really interesting was happening with this medium, and it had to do with the links.

Weblogs links ideas, places and people together creating communities and relationships. But when the subject of blogging is "place" there is something else that happens too. The writer links to the land. These links are not nescessarily hyperlinks or photographs, but instead are written projections of the writer's relationship with the land. Assembling these notes together creates a landscape, and in continuing to assemble this picture, one creates a communal relationship with the place and, ultimately with the readers of you and your place. I'm glad to see other bloggers of place taking up the thinking on this.

Barry Lopez writes:

"Over time I have come to think of these three qualities--paying intimate attention; a storied relationship to a place rather than a solely sensory awareness of it; and living in some sort of ethical unity with a place--as a fundamental human defense against loneliness. If you're intimate with a place, a place with whose history you're familiar, and you establish an ethical conversation with it, the implication that follows is this: the place knows you're there. It feels you. You will not be forgotten, cut off, abandoned.

People who blog places are making sense of the land in which they live and are situating themselves both in that space and in the greater and wider space that is constituted by the minds of their readers. If my weblog is read in South Africa, then my inner landscape of Bowen Island is projected there, and the reader there makes the connections between my writing and his or her life. It is not a hyperlink but it does bound us together and it extends something of this place all the way out to you, whereever you are.

I think blogging place extends Lopez antidote to lonelieness to the wider world. We are not strangers in our own lanscapes, and nor are we alone in the community of humans on earth..

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