This may have happened when I was in my high school’s badminton team. We were a bunch of friends playing together and badminton was a good excuse to hang out, but we weren’t exactly a great team. I think the only times we ever received any points was when the other side forfeited. One day we booked the gym for some badly needed practice. We showed up and found that there'd been a mixup with the booking and our court had been double-booked with the volleyball team. My badminton team wasn’t exactly super-dedicated, we may have walked away if it wasn’t for the volleyball team’s superior attitude, just assuming we’d defer to them. We ended up both stubbornly playing in the space. The two games shared a similar net and similar sized court - the different sets of lines were already drawn into floor. Having two different games being played on the same court was not an ideal situation. One of my friends had a volleyball pelted into his shoulder. But I guess that it's not nice to be hit on the face with a badminton shuttle or hit on the elbow with a badminton racquet. The joint practice was not a success. After that the two teams generally loathed each other.
This is not a real allegory where every little detail has meaning. The chaotic image of two different games happening in the same space recently came to mind when I was thinking about the relationship between blogging and other writing forms – particularly academic writing and journalism.
No analogy is ideal. This writing as a game analogy may suggest that writing is a trivial activity, that it's just a game. But I think games are important microcosms of reality. Each game has its own distinct ways of winning and losing and participation. The different games require different skills and attract different sorts of players. Some people play to win, others do it for the money, some just like to show off their skills. Some people play simply to have fun or because the game is a group activity and they like the camaraderie with the other players.
Each game regards itself as more important and interesting than the other games. Often the players of one game may have a negative view of the other games. For example, a blogger may view academic writing as anachronistic and elitist. An academic writer may view blogging as a meaningless low-brow game or a hideously bastardized version of their own game.
One way of looking at these different forms of writing is to be relativistic – each of these games serves different functions and attracts different sorts of people. Actually I’d better stop right now. In the next part of this post ["why I choose blogging", written on 15 August 2007], I’ll explore the non-relativistic path.