Bullets and Bloggin'

I’ve been thinking a bit about the relationship between bullets, those unordered lists you find that are marked at the beginning by a circular and typically black shape, and blogging.
The aphorism, which was professionalized and academicized by Friedrich Nietzsche over 100 years ago, is the real antecedant to the web log, and by extension, the bullet. (Martha Nussbaum, my Nieztsche instructor in college, used to love floating these little one- or two-line stanzas over our heads during class and they always seem postively puzzling and incisive at the same time.)
A blog typically takes a single idea, condenses it into its few lines of simplicity, and hopes that a reaction will inhere within a reader or among readers.
The bullet (a.k.a. “•”) is an example of an even further reduced thought. It takes the place of a complete idea or parses a complete idea into separate but related strands and creates an easy-to-digest and all-encompassing means of displaying a bit of tightly wound information. At its best, the bulleted item will run only one or two lines which will in turn allow a reader to make immediate association to another bulleted item below or above it or both. Bulleted lists are least helpful when the bulleted items are many sentences in length, because then they look like paragraphs with dots in front of them.
[HTML has always had a very simple way of creating bulleted items. You allow each bulleted item to be defined by a something called an “li” which is short for a list item; further, these individual items then get wrapped in a “ul” tag that allows a Web browser to understand the items as series within an unordered list.]
In any case, recently I think I’ve successfully used bulleted lists in this blog and this fact is, upon reflection, sad. Because bulleted items can be seen as an abbreviated version of a blog itself — because bulleted items are reduced entries of reduced information — a bulleted list is essentially a blog of a blog. There’s nowhere else to go to make things pithier. We’ve arrived at the final sub-atomic state of blog entries.
Of course, one could create a weblog that consists of one word entries, perhaps modified by check-marks, arrows, or some other dingbat. But at that point, the dingbat would be the one writing the damn thing.

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