BlogWorld: Dave Taylor Explains How We Got Here

    September 19, 2008
    WebProNews Staff

The answer to the question “Where are we going?” has never been so uncertain. That’s probably not true, what I just said—likely every generation walks that line of dread. Our generation, if we were to follow Dave Taylor, would end up where he did eventually—at some future crossroads equally uncertain—but we’d surely arrive there by different roads.

(WebProNews will be spending the weekend in Vegas. Bummer, right? But we will be working, reporting from the BlogWorld Expo and chatting up the brightest minds in the blogging business. Stay tuned to WebProNews and WebProNews Video for updates.)

The point is, says Taylor from the BlogWorld Expo opening keynote, entitled “How We Got Here: The State of Blogging and Where It’s Heading*, “nothing is objective.” There may be some objective record—how it really happened—written somewhere in the cosmos, but it must not be a human story.

Indeed it may become the story of our time that there will be no final version of anything—for every blog there is a counter blog, for every Britannica a continuously evolving wiki—endless viewpoints swirling around infinity, the collection of which forms a version of the truth. Blogs are our contribution of order to that madness, which is to say madness is the order.

Taylor may not go quite that far, I don’t think. He says it more this way: “Diaries are historical records.” That’s more succinct obviously, and maybe I’m inserting my viewpoint as to what that means, but that is what we do, all of us, record what we see and retell it (reframe it) in a way that’s understandable. There are many “diaries” detailing events, but not one of them by itself is truth; look at them collectively, though, and you’ll be closer.

For example, what is the state of blogging, the real state of it? Taylor provides a list of adjectives that have been used to describe it:

Drowning in spam
Overall—wonderfully healthy

So, which is it? It’s all of them.

“Everyone’s a media channel,” says Taylor. The Internet has made that possible, even has highlighted how important having a voice is to people. For those willing, even in the face of oppression, it has been their passion that has pushed the success of blogging, that has propelled it to the point that all voices have the potential to be heard.

That’s the dreamy version. The other, dirty-metal-slide-on-a-hot-summer-day-while-wearing-shorts version is that, with so many voices, there’s less control in general and more senseless noise. Messages get out of control. Rumors, libels, misinformation. Tim Berners-Lee, the guy who invented the Web, isn’t so happy about that and wants to develop a kind of accreditation system. It’s not far off from the proposed Bloggers’ Code of Conduct nobody wanted to follow. At least he’s not suggesting higher energy taxes to make it too expensive to blog. (Filed under elitist noise reduction.)

Both versions are true, the Pollyanna and the pessimist version. “The future isn’t one way anymore,” Taylor says. Though there are many paths leading there, Taylor has advice for joining that future:

Stay relevant
Have a voice and use it

If we can do that, though we may talk all at once, we might arrive at the future with a collective understanding of how we got there. Or at least a vague idea enough people agree with to satisfy us.

*Taylor very nearly wins the longest presentation title award, runner up to yours truly’s upcoming lecture, Anything Anybody Ever Told You Was a Lie, Including What I Just Said: Capturing Reality, If It Exists, In Fiction, Which Is All There Is Anyway.  

WebProNews anchor Abby Prince Johnston contributed to this article.