And the first two Blogtalk Downunder presenters are…

The quality of submissions and the people who are going to be taking part in Blogtalk Downunder blows me away! Seriously!

Here are the first two presenters, Senator Andrew Bartlett and Dr Chris Chesher (you’ll love the paper too, which is, of course, published in full on the blog!)

Senator Andrew Bartlett – Blogs and politics in Australia and globally

“The real long-term value of blogs in politics is very much an open question – in many ways a living experiment in progress. We’re all finding out the answers and exploring the solutions as we go along. What I wish to explore is how things have gone to date and what can be done to increase the chances of things developing in a way which maximises the potential benefits for political processes… more

And I can’t tell you how much I like this paper, certainly enough to not even try to describe it’s breadth and insight at 9PM so I’ll leave it to Dr Chris Chesher (who I hope I have to right picture for…):

Dr Chris Chesher – Blogs and the crisis of authorship

“The uptake of blogs proves that reports of the death of the author are greatly exaggerated. The Author is alive and well, and has a blog.

In the speculative era of cyberculture criticism in the early 1990s, many authors claimed electronic text would destabilise the institution of authorship (Poster 2001; Landow 1994; Bolter 2001). They argued changes of material form of writing would decrease the power of the author. They connected this claim with critics such as Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault who had questioned conventional assumptions about authorship, and speculated on the possibilities of texts without authors. While the claims of these electronic writing advocates were contested theoretically (Grusin 1994), the popularity of blogs empirically demonstrates the persistence of authorship, and how progress often works backwards.

Authorship is so familiar it’s almost invisible, and so flexible it cannot be defined. Certain elements of a text attribute it to a source: an author’s name on the book cover, a newspaper by-line, or the author information in a blog. The Author emerged in the West alongside a range of economic, technological, social, political and legal changes associated with the rise of individualism, capitalism, rationalism, democracy and rule of law. Authorship functions as a boundary abstraction that connects each of these discourses. It gives authors the legal protection of copyright, economic connections with the printing and publishing industries and provides the key field to locate books on the shelves of booksellers and libraries. In silent reading, it provides a persona for the reader to imagines, completing a text’s meaning. Canons of authors provide symbolic figures whose names become shorthand for concepts and stories. The convention of reading a text with reference to its author is ingrained, even if this institution is only 500 years old. Blogs have succeeded because they are less innovative than other online forms.

Far from dissolving authorship, blogs perpetuate, coexist with, and transform it. Authorship re-emerges in proportion to the distance that a text moves from its context. Specific features of blogs allow them to invoke Foucault’s author-function more effectively than static personal home pages: the inverted narrative structure of the archive, the consistent voice, the time stamp that positions posts in a reference to a temporality shared with readers. However, the practices associated with blogs also do transform authorship. The reader’s capacity to give feedback through comments compensates for the conversational mode of writing. Many blogs’s authority comes from positions outside institutions.

Blogs gravitated towards two discourses that reflect the conventional split between public and private domains: the political polemic blog, and the confessional diary. Media events that brought certain blogs into the public sphere in 2003 and 2004 followed standard scripts for each side of this split. The role of political blogs in discrediting Dan Rather’s report on Bush’s war record was generally celebrated as evidence that blogs were legitimate players in the public domain. On the other hand, the most high profile personal diaries were those that presented narratives of transgressive sexuality: Muzimei in China, the London Callgirl in the UK, and Washingtonienne in the US. By contrast with the political bloggers, these authors who brought the private sphere to the public were subject to a moralistic collective tribunal…. more