I definitely think that blogs are inherent to the internet. People often assume that social diaries and lists are, too, but they have existed widely within literature for centuries. (Though possibly published only posthumously). I certainly think that the proliferate number of these, as well as their uninteresting content and lack of editing is inherent to the internet. However, they can all be interesting or valuable if done well. (Realistically, I’m not sure how often they are – but again, as admitted, my knowledge is not extensive). Tumblr is an interesting one – and I always notice when someone has done something unusual, with images, writing, layout, etc. I guess I’m most interested in how people make writing online different than in print, and if it’s not, I lose attention pretty quickly and pick up a book! It doesn’t even have to be that unusual. For instance – I read this online v. in print, and thought it was great (https://nplusonemag.com/issue-18/essays/from-my-diaries/).
Personally I am quite fond of lists, but only in an abstract sense, or as a literary convention. I don’t often go online regularly to read lists, and NEVER read social diaries – however, ‘End of Year’s are definitely favourites and something I will spend a lot of time on, looking at the opinions of people whose work or minds I admire.
I’m not sure that I understand what you mean by ‘stakes’. I certainly think that things move more quickly, and people are visibly, vocally more obsessed with things like popularity – i.e. measuring the value of something by its circulation, both positively and negatively. I also think there is more at stake in terms of the possibility of your work being taken up or taken down more significantly, and harshly, and expected to account, or equally being lauded for it. But there is the equal possibility that you will be ignored and not seen! The internet is a big place. I have to admit, again, I don’t spend very much time in these forums, though when I do dip in, I am simultaneously fascinated, excited, repulsed, and terrified by the speed and breadth of communities online and they way they function. Which it seems to me is ultimately in a tautological fashion. I find this problematic, but arguably not surprising or very different from most disciplines, circles, new sources, etc.
I definitely do not pay more attention to things that I read online. BUT, I am also a really slow technology person, and always have been. (I only recently got a smartphone, and that’s because I won it in a weird contest. [online. haha.]) Often if I find something that I want to read in detail, or keep a permanent copy of, I will print it off! It might be that I’m slow to come around, or have never spent that much time on a computer (I write longhand, and then type it up) – but I suspect it’s just a personal preference, and also sensitive to form or materiality of things. Which I find more satisfying or interesting, as well as easier to follow, in print than online. As I said, I don’t really write for online publications, however, if I did I would probably gravitate to the ones that I do read, which also – surprise! – resemble most closely other long-form / essay / journalism print publications. I.e. The Paris Review, The Believer, The New Yorker, n+1, The New Enquiry, e-flux journal, etc. That said – I am most interested in online publications when they take me by surprise by providing something that print can’t do. Say design, interactive features, layers, etc. Something that is a different, new, exciting way for form to relate to content in a way that is specifically suited to the context – working with its artistic or aesthetic strengths, as opposed to replicating a sort of print ideology, focusing on the ‘online’ element as functioning primarily to reaching a wider audience.
This is a complicated question, in a way. As ‘audience’, ‘public’, and ‘publicity’ have come to possess incredibly different meanings in different spheres, for better or for worse. My first inclination was to say yes, because it is easier to see who is engaging with your work online, on a purely practical level. But as we know, hits, retweets, reblogs, etc. can mean a wide variety of things – it is impossible to know how someone actually engaged with something. Did they even read it? Is this kind of attention what we expect now, because some people will still read the whole thing, and other forms of attention / public are simply a different incarnation that nonetheless generates popularity (or its opposite) that are no less significant or real in terms of their effect in particular arenas. Arguably, this happens with print as well. People read book reviews of books they don’t read, but perhaps pass the information along, or recommend writers as though they have. I think, too, that print attention is flickering – who reads an article more than once or twice? Perhaps it simply feels materially as though it has more longevity.
I have gone off track here, I think, or maybe not answered the question…. But in short, YES, I do think it constitutes an audience. Albeit a reconfigured, far more various one than we currently understand or have a model for.
I think that exclusively the online element wouldn’t determine my approach to any of these things, so much as the context – i.e. the site, or publication, etc. – for which I was writing, and the guidelines they work within. Which are often, though not necessarily, different from those in print. Given free-reign, say a neutral (ha!) platform to write however I wanted – I would probably be inclined to change very little, though might assume it would be appropriate to cut down on length and breadth, as these are the things I struggle with – re: attention – when reading online.
I write almost exclusively for print publications. In fact, with few exceptions, in each case that something has appeared online, it has been altered or reformatted from what was originally intended to be a print piece. So it’s hard for me to say conclusively, although I suspect that I gravitate to writing for print because I feel that it is imbued with characteristics – re: form, content, and circulation – that might be more amenable to the manner in which I write, and what or how I want things to look, feel, etc. I acknowledge that these assumptions are likely out-dated and irrational, in that online writing is capable of many things, as well as great variety. (Just like all print isn’t the same, neither is all online content, obviously). That said – the cases in which I have written directly for something online, I have approached the writing (the writing itself, as well as the manner in which I worked on it) in a more casual, less belaboured manner. Perhaps my assumption on some level is that greater care and exactitude is required in print than online. Or maybe that print is for literature, and online is for journalism! As I write this, it seems absurd – but I suppose these are many of the material values associated and embraced, as well as distanced and rejected by forward thinking people in both print and online. Hopefully these are the people who will change and challenge both fields to expand, with regards to production and reception.