Sunday, October 09, 2011

I used to blog: now I Facebook

I used to blog: now I Facebook. I used to spend hours editing, post-processing, and tweaking every photo: now I upload them 'as-is', or maybe with a few in-camera (i.e. in-iPhone) filters applied. I used to shoot on film, or large digital SLRs: now I shoot mostly on the iPhone.


I used to upload my carefully crafted images to flickr, and I used to post them in various groups for feedback, and (of course) appreciation: now I post them mostly on facebook, mostly for appreciation, or a few funny comments - 'for the lulz', in effect. I used to agonize and re-draft blog posts for hours, to get it right, to make sure they said what I wanted to be said, a habit I carried over initially to Facebook and Twitter: now, more likely than not, I'll post a status update with only 5 minutes of pondering.

From 2004 to 2008, most of my 'creative' (small 'c') output was on flickr and blogger, and it consisted of generating ideas (like this) in a style of writing that would have been familiar to essayists throughout the centuries, and in photos (articularly infra-red landscape shots and 'hockneyesque' composite shots which required hours of work in photoshop or GIMP). From 2007 onwards, most of the data I've generated has been on Facebook, mostly pithy observations (at best) and throwaway comments (at worst). Disposable ideas for a disposable age. Fast production for a culture of impatient consumption.

The brief and immediate have triumphed. There are still moments of considered, weighed and weighty pondering on Facebook (just as there were moments of the frivolous on blogger) but the balance has shifted. The fact that I am typing, and soon uploading, this on an iPhone shows how technology has shifted the foundations of our culture rapidly, giving us the new New even as we've barely got used to the current New. I used to joke that blogging was like maintaining a homepage, but without learning HTML; Facebook, when I first encountered it, seemed to me like blogging without content (back when 'content' meant 'original ideas you generated' rather than 'here's a video I like'). Twitter, i initially thought, would be like blogging without even the thought. It's more than that, of course, insofar as any tool is limited, or has it's potential fulfilled, by how people chose to use it: for every Twitter account that is nothing more than a series of retweets, or an endless moan about the minutiae of someone's sad life, there are many which genuinely offer insight - albeit 140 characters at a time.

And that's what is on my mind right now: how to bring the balance back. All this was spurred by a conversation with Wesley on the changes in photography over the years we've known each other, as well as the unexpected wave of nostalgia started by Steve Jobs's death. It's a bit of a cliche at this point in time to talk about moving forward, but I am reminded of Heraclitus: you can't step into the same river twice: the river has changed, and so have you.

No comments: