Blogs and Ephemeral Media

At Invisible Shoebox, Meredith announces that her interview with pixelkitty is now up at Melbourne-based online culture mag Sleepy Brain. Saichan from sleepybrain comments:

is it ironic that such an ephemeral medium as blogs can be set in stone in a magazine (albeit an online mag…)?

Meanwhile, in the post yesterday I received a hardcopy of the online creativity and culture zine/blog/portal Chaos Generation, which was also distributed in cafes and such around inner Sydney. And when in Sydney a few weeks ago, I noticed posters advertising personal blogs taped to electricity poles in Newtown. Does this seem weird to anyone?

I was wondering why these leakages from the blogosphere out onto the streets seem to carry a kind of tension, and got to thinking there are two sets of distinctions at work: the distinction between digital (or electronic) texts and material objects (which can also be texts), and the distinction between “online” and “offline” media forms. Granted, blogs are by their nature a dynamic, not a static, medium, so in a sense the content is kind of ephemeral. But permalinks have pretty much fixed that.

The questions about ephemerality and permanence probably have more to do with older concerns about analog and electronic media texts: there is a sense in which a photocopy left to flutter across the ground at the Glebe markets seems (probably wrongly) to us to be more real, less ephemeral than a blog post, which is available as long as the html files in which it is nested remain online somewhere – which could be as close to forever as we can imagine right now. Not only that, but the blog post may be quoted and linked to by hundreds of other blogs – so in one sense it is far less ephemeral than a material text – a zine, a poster, graffiti. Then again, where are my bundles of personal correspondence from the last ten years? Unevenly backed up in hotmail accounts, or lost to middle-of-the night hard drive reformatting frenzies.