Narratology, ie the study of narrative, is fairly new and somewhat controversial in the world of critical theory. For reasons that I am only beginning to understand, narratology takes the point of view that a narrative, that which is loosely defined as a story, can exist in any medium, that even music follows a narrative pattern, classical music that is. They are not saying that all music is a narrative at its base but they are saying that a narrative can exist in music and can be expressed by it. Now this idea becomes very interesting because it is something that connects all forms of art. Perhaps the only thing beyond the title of art and the various descriptions of different movements, is narrative. Does it truly exist and some super connection between mediums?
Well I bring this up now because in placing blogs as a medium we have to make sure they fit this mold, and obviously enough they do. However there is something interesting in blogs, that is their innate ability to disrupt one chain of thought with the hyperlink. Blogs being based on hypertext fundamentally do not have to follow a narrative path. Now one could argue that that is true as well as the narrative existence in a blog, that they both can exist, like classical and modern compositions are both music yet one doubles as a narrative. And that is true. But the existence of classical music as a narrative was designed that way, and introduced to its audience that way. Blogs cannot be compared to that because they work fundementally different. When one stumbles upon a blog they rarely stumble upon that first post, I know for myself I did not start receiving views until I posted on journalism, thus it is extremely rare for someone to start reading a blog with the start of the blogs narrative, but not impossible. However this brings up a very important difference between blogs and almost all other types of art, the interaction with the reader. Blogs are not stand alone art works, they exist as art based on their interaction with readers. This last point is very debatable, but what isn’t is that blogs are not linear, even if the creator’s intent is a linear blog, few readers will approach it as such.
A second interesting difference or rather challenge to the idea of narrative in blogs is the influence of the comments, if you have a blogger who is slowly publishing a novel through their blog by publishing each chapter, say each week, that narrative they are developing will be interrupted by the commentary received through replies to the posts. Yes it is still a narrativ, but it is an evolving narrative, one that one could say is self reflexive, always evolving and reestablishing itself.
These ideas of mine, that of comparing blogs to narratology, are not just my own but rather represent my initial thoughts upon starting to read Avatars of Story by Marie-Laure Ryan, a narratologist with some very interesting ideas.