Blogs are anthologies

Blogs are a lot like anthologies, and in many ways they're even better, especially when it comes to expanding the collection.

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I was reading Mandy Brown’s thoughts on the anthology1 when it occurred to me that blogs are essentially anthologies:

A better comparison would be to align reading on screen with reading an anthology. Both involve a selection of readings—not one text, but many. Both envision a connection among the texts…And both revel in the excerpt.

Here she’s making an argument about comparing novel-reading to screen-reading, but I think that her point is just as applicable to blogs specifically.

In fact, even the actual definition of anthologyA collection of selected literary pieces or passages or works of art or music.—is inline with this idea.

Blogs are of course presented differently: they are more emergent than curated—meaning blogs almost universally arrange content in reverse chronological order, and the next text to appear may have no connection at all with the previous text. However, the blog-as-anthology idea really starts to show up in other ways.

Take, for example, categories. Categories are also almost universal among blogs. Typically, a category is hand-selected by the author for a given work. From a different angle, a selected work is specifically chosen to appear in a collection of works which all have a related topic. Sounds a lot like an anthology to me.

Many times posts themselves are the anthology, where the relationships between works unfold throughout the post (and even play into an even bigger anthology). For example, a post about the wonderful places the author has hiked, each of which are a link to a post about hiking that location, all of which are contained within the larger anthology (the blog itself) about the great outdoors.

When you start to think about it that way, blogs have a huge advantage over the traditional collections: they don’t have to end. The author can choose to expand the collection at any time, increasing the depth and meaning of the grander story with each new post. And in time, that story may take on an incredibly new and different life of its own.

Since The Revival I’ve had the thought that I would take things in this direction. All of the fun stories, bigoted statements, controversial thoughts, and proud moments are all there waiting to be explained, re-interpreted, and remixed into the bigger story. Can’t wait to see where things go!