Saturday, April 30, 2005

18 Characteristics of Good Blog Content

how does your blog measure up? Posted by Hello

[NOTE: This is a significantly modified version of an article that originally appeared at my Vaspers the Grate site, entitled "Characteristics of Web Site Content". The information has been altered, where appropriate, to accommodate blogs more specifically, and to reflect newer blogological insights I have gained.]

I recently conducted a survey of web developers on what they considered important for web site success.

One of the items mentioned was content.

In fact, many web professionals say: "Content is king."

I wonder.

If content is indeed king, it should be enthroned with regal dignity and royal embellishments.

You see, blog content depends first on identifying both corporate or personal blogging goals and user needs.

A blog's success also depends on how the content is derived, verified, and presented.

Here's a list of 18 essential aspects of blog content...and they all start with "R".

Aren't I clever? ...or just too avant garde for my own good?

Gentle reader, you decide.

I've taken the liberty of using a few unusual "R" words just to make it slightly humorous, vaguely memorable, and mildly thought-provoking.

18 "R"s of High Quality
Blog Content

(1) Radiant: Immediate visual impression of credibility, authority, and propriety via color, design, typography, logo, and upfront corporate or personal identification.

(2) Relevant: Having an obvious pertinence, appropriateness, application, or affinity with the topic at hand. Not trying to be all things to all readers. Not wandering off into muliple tangents or side issues.

(3) Rare: Unique, idiosyncratic, not redundant, not commonly found, in this form, or with this degree of completeness, in other information resources.

Except in the case of strict "link blogs" (like Robot Wisdom, for a nice example), your personal commentary, analysis, or opinion is included to make your blog more interesting and appealing.

(4) Rich: Loads of good stuff for users to enjoy, absorb, and ponder, rather than meager, mediocre, same-o same-o offerings that aren't worth waiting for the site to download into the browser.

(5) Radical: Beyond platitudes, pleasantries and proverbs--provide your blog readers with fresh thinking that challenges pre-conceived, outmoded, or erroneous (but popular) notions.

Dare to be Different. Question both authority and anarchy. Challenge your own beliefs. Read contrary opinions, that contradict your point of view, to determine if there just might be some value in them.

(6) Rapacious: Investigating, exploring, accumulating, and stockpiling all the information that is known to be available on a topic.

Then differentiating what is useful and desired by the target audience, and providing summaries, paraphrases, quotations (with permission from the sources, where required), links, or other means of dissemination.

(7) Recrudescent ("breaking out afresh, renewed action"): Providing your blog readers with facts that are emerging in various locations and scenarios, but have largely gone unnoticed by other bloggers.

(8) Rectilinear ("characterized by straight lines"): Driving right to the heart of the matter, no lengthy digressions, irrelevant filler, or off-topic meandering.

Pointing your audience directly (via links, URLs) to the most authoritative, credible, or interesting material...rather to more secondary sources.

(9) Resolute: Firm in purpose, exhibiting confident clarity, and presented aggressively or creatively to be more memorable and persuasive.

(10) Recondite ("beyond ordinary perception, profound, dealing with complex or obscure subjects"): Sublime, extraordinary, "Eureka!" type insights that contain the solution for obstinate or pervasive problems.

(11) Repositorial: Your blog is considered to be a dependable repository, reservoir, or collection of all necessary facts...

...or contains references to the major resources dealing with the subject, obviating the need for your readers to bounce all over the web, hunting down the relevant data.

(12) Realistic: Rational, pragmatic, capable of immediate application to actual situations, not overly theoretical, hypothetical, utopian, fanciful, or abstract.

(13) Reverberant ("to re-echo"): Your blog's content reflects your blogging goals and the needs of your audience. Be sure your goals and your audience's needs are clearly and comprehensively understood and defined.

(14) Refluent ("flowing back, as an ebbing tide"): Has links back to source or substantiating material.

If you mention other blogs, be sure to provide direct links to them. And if you refer to a specific post in another blog, or information at a web site, provide a "deep link" that takes the reader directly to that specific item.

"Shallow linking" that merely takes the reader to the main page of the other blog or web site can be very frustrating. Sometimes it is difficult to locate the information, especially if the other site has less than ideal information architecture, no site search, or poorly categorized archives.

(15) Refrangible ("can be refracted, bent, as light rays entering a glass"): The information in the blog is capable of being "tilted" toward differing conditions, flexible in implementation, not rigidly relevant to a severely limited range of applications.

For example, this list of aspects of good blog content can be relevant to personal blogs, CEO blogs, business blogs, academic blogs, military blogs, marketing blogs, just about any type of blog, wiki, or web site.

(16) Remonstrative ("pleading in protest or rational complaint, maintaining a reasonable opposition toward something"): As demanded by the situation, is not shy or timid about protesting what you consider, in good conscience, to be wrong, insincere, unethical, morally corrupt, unprofessional, or factually incorrect.

(17) Retrievable: Easily searchable via main body content heads and subdivisions, "site search" text entry box, and clearly and logically categorized archives.

(18) Responsive: Your blog, filled as it is with such great content that fulfills the above 17 criteria, is nonetheless still open to user-generated, client-mandated, or corporate-dictated corrections, elucidations, critiques, revisions, amplifications, alterations, and questions.

YOUR TURN: If you feel I have overlooked a vital characteristic of effective and valuable blog content, please leave a comment.

Don't worry about whether or not the characteristic starts with an "R". I can think of an "R" word to apply to it, probably.


[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate


How To Improve a CEO Blog

evaluate your CEO blog by these guidelines Posted by Hello

[NOTE: This is the identical post that I originally published on my Vaspers the Grate blog as "CEO Blog Problems and Solutions".]

In the course of perusing current CEO blogs, I noticed some recurring errors, problems, and deficiencies.

Let's consider these flaws and how they can be fixed.

CEO Blog Errors:

1. No profile or "about me" page.

Don't assume that everyone knows who you are. CEOs, as a group, are often perceived by the general public and customers to be somewhat arrogant or detached from consumer concerns.

Consider having a nice, warm and fuzzy, "regular guy" (genuine, and not a pose) profile page with appropriate photo (dress or casual, depending on specific situation).

A "Welcome to My Blog" post is not enough. That post will get buried in the blog archives, and as months go by, it will be so buried, few will notice or read it.

2. No photo of CEO, or not a very good one.

Like I said, but want to emphasize again, consider including a really good photo of yourself. Ask employees, colleagues, family, total strangers, what they think of the photo. Use their reactions to judge the appropriateness of the photo in line with your objective.

Consider special photo opportunities, you at a company picnic, inspecting your products, observing the manufacturing process, talking with employees, involved in community service, speaking at a conference...

...instead of a stock, bleak, grim, dull background, corporate annual report photo. Jazz it up a bit.

How casual can you afford to look, without compromising the trust-inspiring professionalism required for your market and audience?

Let others get to know you as a normal person, and not some hard, bottom-line obsessed, insensitive machine.

3. CEO's company is not mentioned.

You'd think this was an obvious item to include on a blog, but guess again.

CEOs cannot assume everyone already knows the company you are heading up.

Most people probably pay little attention to the CEO's name, but plenty of attention to product quality, veracity of advertising, and customer service.

Present upfront mention of company name, and describe what your company does, slogan, tagline, what it's product lines are, what its quality and service standards are, its ethical guidelines, goals for the future, market position, distribution network, global reach, and what makes it unique.

If your company is well known, such as IBM, Microsoft, General Motors, Proctor & Gamble, Boeing, General Electric, Hewlitt-Packard, Sun Microsystems, Sony, or Time-Warner...

...consider saying something original about it, your personal comment on what your company is really all about, fascinating but little-known facts about it, how you came to head it up.

4. No blogroll, i.e., list of external links of blogs and web sites of potential interest.

A blogroll list of external sites of relevance is standard blog practice.

You need a list of external links, maybe marketing blogs, or industry blogs that you read and like.

Show people you're an active member of the blogosphere, not just "doing a blog" because you think you should, or because your competitors have blogs.

Not having list of other blogs/web sites could tend to make you look a bit isolated, self-centered, unfamiliar with relevant blogs, or disconnected with the larger playing field.

Listing other blogs and online resources helps form the perception that you're open to new ideas, that you're part of the blogging culture to some degree, rather than merely attempting to exploit an emerging trend.

Use bold sub-heads for categories within the blogroll, like "marketing", "technology", "PR", "advertising", "web design", and distinct subdivisions of whatever industry you're in. Think about adding a few personal interest or hobby sites that make you seem less stuffy.

5. No comments functionality.

Your blog, since it's reaching out to a target audience (customers, prospects, media, suppliers, distributors, investors, general public) needs user-generated content via comments enabled. Let users post comments. Let them interact with you, form a candid conversation with you.

There exist a variety of ways to minimize or eliminate spammers, abusers, and off topic comments.

Enabling users to post comments prevents your blog from appearing to be another monlithic, alienating, one-way message dissemination. Unilateral communication is now giving way to grass roots level, two-way interactive communication. Don't lag behind with archaic communication approaches and outmoded vehicles.

A CEO should welcome feedback from the audience. It's how you form a community of shared interests, and gain valuable insight into customer desires and perceptions.

(Learn about the benefits of "content attractiveness dynamic loops", "member loyalty dynamic loops", "critical mass of transactions", and "dynamics of increasing returns" in NET GAIN: Expanding Markets Through Virtual Communities, by John Hagel III and Arthur G. Armstrong, Harvard Business School Press, 1997.)

6. No link to the corporate web site.

Let's think like a marketing strategist, or a sales manager, for a moment.

If a customer or prospect likes your blog, maybe they will also feel friendly toward your corporation. They might even be in the mood to buy something. Potential investors may be inspired to purchase stock in your company.

Be sure to provide a prominent link on your blog to your ecommerce site or corporate web site.

Consider including links to distributers and to positive media articles mentioning your products and firm.

7. Not scannable.

The blog text is too dense. Break the text into shorter paragraphs. Use bulleted or numbered or asterisked lists once in a while.

Make your text easy and quick to scan, skim, and skip over irrelevant points, for users in a hurry.

Some users may be looking for a certain word, phrase, product comment, etc. and don't have time to wade through oceans of text to find it.

8. Not personal enough.

A CEO Blog should not be merely a re-hash of a PR release, mission statement, annual report, or corporate brochure.

Be yourself. Be simple. Be candid.

Don't fill your blog with boring fluff about how great your company is, and all the new products in development.

Get real. Provoke responses. Provide value. Respect your readers' limited time.

How do you break away from boring corporate fluff writing?

Read blogs by other thought leaders and CEOs, and when they touch you deep within, make you like the author and believe in his company or vision, ask yourself what is causing this. Read the publications that cover your industry, notice how they speak about it.

Here are some topics you might discuss, in a friendly, yet dignified, conversational tone:

What books are you reading?

What key concepts drive your company?

What kind of employee does your company seek to attract?

What do your employees enjoy most about working for you?

What is your corporate culture, work environment like?

What are your biggest challenges as a company, and how will you meet them?

What other companies or CEOs do you admire? Who were your mentors?

What were some of your mistakes, what did you learn from them, how did you correct them?

What style of corporate leadership do you endeavor to exemplify?

What do you wish your target audience could somehow understand about your corporate aims, history, vision, accomplishments?

What specialized information do you possess that could help others?

What trends do see emerging in your industry--and how are you attempting to lead them?

9. Not focused.

Be very certain and deliberate as to what you want to accomplish with a CEO Blog. Have a set agenda.

Don't "blog just to blog." Don't start a blog just to appear technically savvy or trendy or people-oriented. Set a definite goal or list of objectives you want to accomplish with the blog. Periodically assess your progress in achieving these purposes.

Do internet searches on your name, and your company name, to discover what people are saying about you.

Read other blogs by people you admire, perhaps marketing blogs by respected authors and practitioners.

Study successful blogs, according to link popularity rankings in such trackers as Technorati, Blogstreet, and Daypop. See how these effective blogs reach out to readers and gain their trust and loyalty.

10. No contact information.

Provide an email address or contact form. Write email address as: something[at] something[dot]com--to prevent spambot email harvesting.

Provide all other contact channel info: physical address, corporate phone number, fax, service and order tracking info.

Be approachable, open to suggestions, questions, complaints, praise.

Let people know how they can get in touch with you.


What's the difference between a web site and a blog?

A blog generally tends to be:

More interactive (comments enabled).

More dynamic (frequent updates or postings).

More "up close and personal."

More relaxed, casual, conversational.

More focused.

More user-community oriented.

Blogs enable you to react faster to both good and bad news about your corporation in the media.

If you're a CEO, President, VP, Director of Communications, Chairperson or other corporate spokesperson, your blog needs to be a clear reflection of your standards of professionalism, integrity, and customer satisfaction.

[See CEO Blog Checklist under art image below...keep scrolling...sucka!]

BCV corp OH rate logo Posted by Hello


A CEO Blog should incorporate the following:

* immediate visual impression of professionalism, authority, integrity
* authenticity (real voice of CEO, not paid ghost-blogger, or simulated blog with fictional persona)
* honesty, candor, transparency, credibility
* relevance and practical value to target audience
* defined purpose, strategic focus
* description of company, products, mission
* links to corporate web site, other corporate blogs, dealer outlets, distributors, ecommerce site
* photo of CEO, plus photo gallery, with shots of happy employees, products in use solving problems, facilities, various assets that inspire trust or awe
* simplicity
* high level literacy
* easy usability
* good readability
* conversational writing style
* some personal details to convey human qualities, interests, hobbies
* upfront contact information (with internal servicing, not outsourced to external fulfillment service), or contact form (email message template, with hidden email address)
* brevity
* upfront privacy policy, terms of use, webmaster feedback
* interactive functionality
* timely responses to user comments, within the comment threads, not just in posts
* external linking strategy, relevant and useful blogroll
* searchable, categorized archives
* frequent updating
* hyperlinks to reputable, relevant external resources
* compliance with web standards
* compliance with basic accessibility

For a list of CEO Blogs, refer to The New PR/Wiki:

Jorn Barger: Blog Quality and Ethics

We all need to write better post titles (headlines)... Posted by Hello

I'm sending out emails, asking some of the most successful and popular bloggers a simple question:

"What do you think is the most pressing ethical or quality issue for blogs?"

Here's #3 in this series titled "Blog Quality and Ethics".

Robot Wisdom

Bloggers need to get better at rewriting the headlines/blurbs so that
readers can make an informed decision about clicking a link, or not.

A good blurb shouldn't tease, it should summarise, and it should warn
about 'gotchas' like java/ popups/ multipage presentations, etc.

[STEVEN STREIGHT responds...]

This is similar to what both Cory Doctorow and Doc Searls told me recently.

I'm glad that Jorn brought up this extremely important Quality issue.

Actually, Jorn goes beyond the simple but profoundly vital idea of writing information-rich post titles ("headlines", "blurbs", "post descriptors")...

...he also mentions the polite act of notifying readers of any unusual or unexpected event that occurs when a link is clicked/selected.

(I always say "click/selected" because Jakob Nielsen taught me, er, taught us all, that users may be blind, or otherwise differently-abled, and thus, may be using assistive technology devices, rather than a keyboard or mouse to navigate the web.)

I hate it when a link is an undocumented PDF file, or an unannounced separate pop-up window, or an unanticipated joy ride to an external site.

The art of micro-content writing is rarely practiced correctly by any blogger.

Micro-content means small portions of text, like headlines, forum topic titles, email subject lines, tool tip text, blog titles, blog descriptions, article blurbs, and many other "tiny text" applications, including blog post titles.

Your blog post title has to somehow make a reader think:

"Good Lord, I wonder what this is all about?!"


"I had better drop or stop what I'm doing, and take a look at this."


"Who the heck does he think he is to say that? I'm going to read the post to see what's going on."


"Wow! I've always wondered about this. Maybe I'll finally find a good, easy to understand explanation here."


"Great! I really need to know about this, this is a problem I'm having right now, and this seems like it might contain the solution I need."


Thanks, Jorn, for this astute reply to my little email micro-survey question.

Jorn is one of the First Bloggers, I believe he is the #8 Major Blogger in the History of the Universe (according to Meatball Wiki), right after:

(1.) Tim Berners-Lee ("What's New" page at info [dot]cern[dot]ch: January 1992)

(2.) Marc Andreessen ("What's New": June 1993)

(3.) Justin Hall ("Links from the Underground": January 1994)

(4.) Carolyn Burke ("Online Diary": January 1995)

(5.) Michael Sippey ("Stating the Obvious": August 1995)

(6.) Dave Winer ("Scripting News": April 1997)

(7.) Rob Malda ("SlashDot": September 1997)

(8.) Jorn Barger("Robot Wisdom": December 1998).

Blogo-combat against The Guardian reporter

bloggers vs. old media tyranny Posted by Hello

I love it when MSM (Main Stream Media) representatives step into the blogosphere...

...assuming they can strut around with superiority, arrogance, and hot tempers.

MSM folks, not all of them of course, but certain wrong-headed ones, flounder around like fish out of water when they enter the lightning swift stream of the blogospheric realm.

They want to tell us to shut up, stop interrupting them, quit thinking independently, and "where did you get such a loud, smart ass voice anyway?"

Hello MSM. What you are hearing, and are so troubled by, is the voice of the average person, the lowly working man or woman, the grass roots guys and gals, the Formerly Passive Subjects of MSM Hypnotism and Hype.

Never heard much from this voice, did you? Except, of course, for "Letters to the Editor". Ha! LOL.


I really enjoy debates with MSM zone-outs who can't control their anger.

The secret organizations (OCE, DBT, and others) that trained me in mental combat taught me a type of psychic judo, whereby you use your opponent's violent rage against them.

You allow them to come at you with full force, then you psychologically step out of the way at the last second, to watch them plunge to their pre-destined doom.

Here' an update on my blogo-combat with a reporter who WORKS for The Guardian.

Notice how these MSM types hate:

* how we blog without any pay

* how we persevere with no capitalistic incentive

* how we put in so much time and effort, they can't believe we could also hold down "real" jobs

* how we cannot be bullied into blogging about topics they wish we would blog about

* how we say whatever we want to say (Free Speech)

* how we deal decisively with those who invade our blogospheric territory.

Now, a brief orientation to this Blogo-combat Battle Zone.

(1.) There was a post on a blog that dealt with a blogger being interviewed by The Guardian, a British newspaper.

(2.) I "threadjacked" a comment string devoted to praise and congratulation, by asking why comments were closed at another thread. Note: I had to question this comment closing at some other post. Follow? Good.

(3.) The Guardian guy said "Too bad we have to listen to the sad and pathetic ramblings of some guy." in a comment following mine.

(4.) Too which I replied in a subsequent comment, "Yeah, too bad, Mr. Perfect"

Now jump ahead to a newer post, at the same site, about how The Guardian was ranting and raving about how the political bloggers did not blog about some guffaw or doodad in British government.

The guy who had been interviewed by The Guardian himself (!) published a post questioning why The Guardian seemed to be trying to unduly influence the blogosphere.

Okay? Now here are some comments that were posted under this newer post.


# Steven says

I agree. Blogs are about free expression, not conformity, blind obedience, or brainwashed happy facings.

I wonder how “Mr. Perfect” is feeling right about now.

# Phil Says:

April 29th, 2005 at 5:30 pm

How do I feel? It’s damn hard to be this damn good. But, you would not be able to relate to that, would you?
I still think you’re one step below a prison punk. And, that’s the lowest of the low.
How this relates to what I wrote on the other post is beyond me, but in your world of unreality, I’m sure it does.
Oh, sorry I didn’t respond immediately, but I work. You ever hear of that concept? And, I’m not talking about blogging, but work that brings in income.

# Steven Says:

April 30th, 2005 at 11:04 am

Typical MSM morbid stream media. See how gentlemanly this individual is? High ethics and professionalism. Wow. Welcome to the rough and tumble realm of blogs…where we invent the rules and you must submit.

All I did was say “Mr. Perfect”. Then see what he calls me. You, gentle reader, you decide.



What do YOU think of this?

If you think I'm making a big deal out of an insignificant matter, you don't have any business reading Blog Core Values.

This is a blog for people who take the blogosphere seriously...

...and wish to learn how to defend it.

If you care about ethics, fair play, and professionalism in blogs, then post a comment here...

...or email your comment, and I'll post it here for you.


John Moore: Blog Quality and Ethics

john moore and w. somerset maugham Posted by Hello

Blog credibility, business blog professionalism, personal blogging standards, blogging best practices, blogger ethics, the moral dimension of blogs...

...this is what I'm after in my post series on "Blog Quality and Ethics".

I am sending email micro-surveys to the most popular, successful, and influential bloggers currently active in the bloatosphere.

Here's #4 in the series, my good friend...

Brand Autopsy

re: What issue is more pressing for blogs, ethics or quality?

For individual/group/non-corporate blogs, quality is more of an issue.

It's not that these blogs are quality blogs. It's just that there is so much quantity that it is eroding some of the quality.

For corporations, ethics is more of an issue.

Corporate blogs will find their space if they are truthful and respectful of the audience. In other words, corporate blogs shouldn't shill a one-sided brand ego perspective.

[STEVEN STREIGHT responds...]

True dat. Sing it brother.

Corporate blogs need to be entirely open to criticism, complaints, challenges, and questions from readers. And they need to display 100% ethical virtue and moral leadership.

Personal blogs do indeed suffer, many of them, with a few glaring exceptions, from a horrendous lack of quality in thinking, writing, and design.

Who the hell do I think I am to proclaim such a confrontational and cynical sentiment?

I'm a widely recognized and accomplished Blogologist, that's who. And a leper guru.

John, may I insert a choice quote from author W. Somerset Maughm, plug it in right here?

[QUOTE by W. Somerset Maugham]

"The professional writer is one who makes writing the main business of his life; therefore, unless he has some fortune, it must also be his means of livelihood; but whether he is paid by a sinecure [any position that provides easy money with little effort] in the customs, by a benefice [a religious, government, educational, or other institutional grant whereby one may live and work], or by royalties is of no consequence.

No one would dream of denying this in any practical matter and it would be a great fool who employed an amateur plumber to repair a leak in a pipe.

In music, sculpture, and painting the amateur is rightly regarded with disdain. It is understood that to compose a piece of music, or to carve a statue, a long apprenticeship and a cognizance of technique are needed.

But because everyone learns to write well enough to put on paper in some sort of fashion what he wants to say, it is supposed that anyone can write a book [STREIGHT: or "a blog"].

It is asserted that everyone has it in him to write one book [STREIGHT: "a blog"].

It may be so, but if by this is meant that everyone has it in him to write one good book, the assertion is false.

The writer needs as complete a training as the practitioner of any other of the arts and the techniques of writing yields to none of them in its difficulty.


As a rule the amateur is rhetorical. He has an inordinate liking for picturesque words and high-flown phrases. At the back of his mind are all manner of literary tags and he brings them in under the impression that they look workmanlike.

He cannot say a thing directly; he muffles it up in a pariphrase [sic]. He uses two words when one will do; he never learns the art to blot.

He does not know where to begin nor when to stop. He is the slave of every idea that enters his head, so that he wanders from his subject with every fancy that strikes him.

I should say the three essentials of writing are lucidity, euphony, and simplicity; and their importance is according to the order in which I have placed them.

It is good that the reader should know exactly what you say and it is good that your words should fall pleasantly on the ear; a simple vocabulary is very desirable, but it is well to be prepared to sacrifice it if your meaning is not clear and you may without reproach choose an elaborate word rather than a plain one, if its sound, in its place, is more delightful.


It is only by practice that the writer learns to stick to his point, which is the first and best rule of composition, and it is again only by practice that he learns how to present his theme with order, balance, and succinctness.

To do this, writing must be not only the main, but the only occupation of his life."


--W. Somerset Maugham, Don Fernando (Sun Dial Press, Inc., New York, 1938) pages 92 to 95.

Amy Gahran: Blog Quality and Ethics

QuaLity is more important than QuaNtity Posted by Hello

Well, the top bloggers are once again helping me to understand the guts of blogging, the inner essence of blogology, the ultimate meaning of "blogger".

Blog credibility, business blog professionalism, personal blogging standards, blogging best practices, blogger ethics, the moral dimension of blogs...

...this is what I'm after in my post series on "Blog Quality and Ethics".

I am sending email micro-surveys to the most popular, successful, and influential bloggers currently active in the bloatosphere.

Here's #5 in the series, my kind ally...

...and one of the few bloggers who has the audacity and compassion to knock me up the side of the head when she feels (and she's always right) I need it...


In general, I think the biggest issue/challenge for bloggers is how to provide quality, not just quantity.

There are lots of other issues, but that one's very pervasive.

[STEVEN STREIGHT responds...]

Yes, again the Quality vs. Quantity problem is mentioned.

Have we bloggers become so obsessed with "frequent updating" and "regular, daily if possible, posting" that we are sacrificing quality, rich and relevant content?

Do we bloggers post something new just to "update" our blogs?

Or are we on fire about something?

Or are we feeling a burning urgency to reveal, illuminate, educate, warn, scold, caution, encourage, entertain, delight, inform, astonish...

...our readers?

Are we myopic, narcissistic, or overly self-impressed?

Are we just throwing out links, with very little comment...

...such that our readers have no idea as to what our opinions, beliefs, or ponderings are on this topic to which we provide links?

[EXCEPTION: Some blogs are link logs, like Robot Wisdom, or Instapundit, so they can be excused from the admonishment to provide more rich and relevant, original, blogger-authored content.]

Dave Taylor: Blog Quality and Ethics

"prosti-blogging"? Posted by Hello

Here is post #2 in my continuing series of posts related to my current email micro-survey, in which I ask top bloggers the question:

"What do you think is the most pressing Ethics or Quality issue for blogs?"

DAVE TAYLOR brings up a very interesting topic, which I brazenly respond to in my typically strident, bullheaded, and ill-bred fashion...

[DAVE TAYOR states:]

I think that the two are sufficiently intertwined that I can't answer the question you've posed.

Here's how I figure this: one facet of quality is credibility, and a critical part of credibility is whether or not the blogger is ethical or not.

If I get a check from Apple Computer to write good things about the iPod but forget to disclose that to my readership, that's what I would consider a significant ethical lapse, and subsequently would affect the overall quality (though perhaps not the perceived quality) of the article.

Make sense?

Dave Taylor

Intuitive Systems: Online Strategies and Communications

Innovative Business Thinking @


Yes sir, you make perfect sense.

First, let's assume that the 9 Blog Core Values that I propose and advocate all over the blogosphere are valid.

Let's assume that a blog should be the genuine, candid, honest, truthful voice of a real person who is not trying to manipulate, hype, or deceive readers.

Keeping the 9 essential values of blogging firmly in mind...

I am opposed to blogstitution, blogwhores.

I will never "blog" for any product or company, at least not in the sense of them buying my opinion, using payment to determine what I say and how I say it.

A "professional blogger" who sluts himself out to the highest bidder is one of the lowest forms of Scumblogger.

Could you legitimately "blog for" a company?


If the blogging was on a general area of expertise or interest related to the company's industry, field of endeavor, or social function.

For example, let's say I like Apple Computer, which is true.

[I entered the computer world back in 1984 with an Apple Macintosh, word processing and MacPaint.]

Say they take a liking to me, Steve Jobs notices my blogs or my comments at other blogs.

They offer me a job as an Apple blogger, with a special blog called Gravity Apple at a subdomain of their corporate web site.

I would consider this job, only if I could blog about whatever topics I chose, and did not have to say anything about Apple products. I would say nice things about the company if these things were true, and if these things were sufficiently noteworthy to me. Otherwise, buzz off.

I would focus on blogging about blogology, not about Apple.

But readers would be attracted to my Gravity Apple blog, enjoy reading my outrageously witty and interesting articles, and perhaps even mosey on over to the Apple corporate home page and check out the merchandise.

However, paying me to pervert my values, using money to attempt to influence my opinion, trying to buy my way.

If Apple was conducting research on some computer thingamajig, and it was interesting to me, I might blog about it a little, just as an information service. But it would be wise for Apple to encourage me to compliment their competitors if I felt impressed by something, say IBM or HP was doing. That would vastly increase the credibility of Gravity Apple blog.

Y'know...maybe I'll propose such a ridiculous idea to Apple. It's so dumb, it should work.


But "blogging for hire", where a blogger will say anything you pay him to say...

...that is "blogstitution" or "whore-blogging" or "blogo-slutting" or "prosti-blogging."

Now, gentle reader, what do you think?

Am I being contradictory?

How can I say I'd blog only about interesting aspects of a company? Am I living in a dream world?

Can you be an internal corporate blogger and refrain from praising a product if you don't really believe in or trust that particular product, or disagree with the marketing spin or sales hype?

Is "blogging for hire" always ethically wrong?

Is "paid blogging" just another way of compromising the integrity of blogging as a profession?

Make a comment and express your opinion.


Friday, April 29, 2005

Scott Ginsberg: Blog Quality and Ethics

scott tells it like it is... Posted by Hello

I just starting sending out an email to what will probably end up being about 100 top blogging pros.

This time I asked simply:

"What do you think are the most pressing issues...

...of quality or ethics for blogs?"

Within an hour of the first wave of emails I sent out, I got quite a few good responses.

I will be doing a post that will contain all the responses, and I guess I'll UPDATE EDIT the post as new replies flood in to me...

...but this one from Scott Ginsberg ("that nametag guy"), who is a great theoretician and writer, is quite nice:

[QUOTE from Scott Ginsberg]

Ethical vs. quality, huh?

Good question. I've heard of people getting fired for having blogs, which sucks - but at the same time, talkin' trash about a company you work for online isn't exactly ethical.

As far as quality goes, there's nothing we can do to regulate it.

Blogger always talks about the importance of blog quality, and so do many other articles on the subject. But blogging is free and open to anyone who wants to do it, so naturally there is going to be a lot of shite [sic] out there. That's what happens when people take advantage of free speech.

But if you are serious about blogging as it pertains to your business, I'd think you'd be smart enough NOT to post shite [sic] anyway.

That's why I think you should ONLY start a blog if you've got some important, valuable, expert, funny, interesting and controversial things to say that people will want to read.

In other words, don't just blog for the sake of blogging.

Have a point.

Later Steven



Visit Scott, and see why Seth Godin was astonished at him:

Hello, My Name is Scott

Hello, My Name is Blog

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Blog Core Values: defined

explanation of the essential qualities Posted by Hello

1. Authenticity:

You're really writing your own blog.

You may be a corporate spokesperson who receives help from a professional writer, but you didn't hire a "ghost writer" to do all the writing, while you merely stamp your approval on it.

You're a real human person.

You're not a team or a committee that is pretending to have a single voice.

You actually have the credentials, experience, education, clients, accomplishments, alliances, and affiliations that you claim you have.

You don't lie. You keep your promises, stand by your word.

You say what you feel you need to communicate to others, with no undue influence, no bribery, no fear, no ulterior motive, no hidden agenda.

2. Passion

Since you are who you say you are...

...and you are personally writing your blog...

...the enthusiasm expressed in it is your personal enthusiasm.

You really love your company, business, products, services, industry, academic field, area of research, hobby, club, or whatever it is you blog about.

You don't pretend to have enthusiasm, you don't fake it just to sell something.

You live, breathe, and sleep within the glorious radiance of the object of your blogging.

Your zeal, seriousness, and devotion is charming and contagious.

You may even work 15 to 20 days, like I do, on your blog and related projects.

You are so deeply and intensely involved in your blogging, consulting, manufacturing, marketing, research, or whatever you blog about...

...that you almost frighten other, less devoted people.

You don't need payment, praise, conference keynote speaker invitations, mass media attention, tons of post comments, or other bloggers blogrolling or otherwise publicizing you and your blog.

You will blog until you drop dead, and love every obscure, poverty stricken minute of it.

Money is nice and so is appreciation, and the support of other bloggers...

...but you blog for your own inner reasons, that just become more crystallized as you keep at it, day after day, not caring about results, awards, flames, or accolades.

3. Transparency.

You're not hiding anything of importance to your audience.

This doesn't mean you reveal sensitive information about your family, children, employer, religion, medical history, or financial status.

It means you're not deceptive.

You're a straight shooter, you tell it like it is, even if some are not going to like what you say. You say it anyway.

You're not acting one way, but thinking another.

You're genuine and your positions are crystal clear, not fuzzy, cloudy, or obscure.

4. Credibility.

You're trustworthy...and your blog reflects this aspect of your personality.

People believe you, and therefore, they are willing to follow you.

They feel comfortable at your blog, knowing you won't deceive or manipulate them.

You project truthfulness, because you're a consistently honest and straight-forward person.

You have cultivated a good reputation.

You document facts and figures with references to authoritative print publications (books, magazine articles, etc.) and links to reputable online resources.

[I always strive to link to universities for definitions and research, especially on odd topics like The Invisible Web, for example.

5. Individualism.

Your blog reflects your inner qualities, which are not identical to anyone else's.

You don't follow the leader when your conscience tells you the leader is wrong.

You don't follow the crowd just because it's the safe and easy way.

You question everything, nothing is assumed to be true just because some authority or tradition says it is.

You allow yourself to be "different" and you're true to yourself.

You don't imitate others, unless it's a good quality you're trying to incorporate.

You say what you honestly believe, no matter what anybody else thinks.

You don't just link to other sources, you tell readers what YOU think about an issue.

You're indifferent to both praise and criticism, but you endeavor to be worthy of the former and humbly open to the latter.

People consider you to be a "character", unique, special, one of a kind...and you are, we all are!

6. Creativity.

Your blog has some unique qualities to it that are pleasing, helpful, or artistic.

Your blog has little flourishes that no other blog has.

You strive to have a nice design for your blog, good color scheme, readable typeface, and good functionality.

Your blog stands out in some way, it's not like all the others.

You're often thinking about how to improve your blog, and you visit other blogs to study and learn from them.

7. Originality.

Your blog is not a copy of some other blog.

Your blog is influenced by other blogs, but you put your own personal twist on it.

Your blog is stamped with the impression of your distinct personality, interests, and expertise.

Your blog reflects your imagination, your talents, your an innovative, unusual, or entertaining manner.

You may even get to the point that, when you post comments at other blogs, readers can quickly recognize who posted the comment, before they even see your name displayed.

You've read blogs and books, including classics, that are written by people who have distinct and unusual voices, so you have some examples in your mind of how to stand out from the crowd.

For example, the following authors have unique voices: Sigmund Freud, Jacques Derrida, James Thurber, Marcel Proust, Franz Kafka, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Arthur Rimbaud, Maurice Blanchot, Jerry Seinfeld, Woody Allen, Thomas Jefferson, Karl Marx, Jacques Lacan, Emmanuel Levinas, Edgar Allen Poe, Martin Luther, Mahayana Buddhist texts, Will Self, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg.

You don't have to agree with them. Just study them and see what makes them sound different from the run of the mill writers and thinkers.

Post a comment to this article and tell me who YOU admire as a unique voice!

8. Relevance.

Your blog has practical value for others.

You write about that which you know.

You think, "What would my audience need to know? What beneficial information might be unknown to my readers, or difficult for them to find?"

When you read other blogs, web sites, books, magazines, you think, "Maybe there's something here I could discuss in my blog, and would be helpful to my audience."

If you tell a personal experience, you do it in a way that others can derive information that will help them.

Your blog sticks to one or a few basic issues or areas of expertise, and does not try to be all things to all people.

Your general topic area governs your choice of what to write about, what links to include in your blogroll, and what hypertext links you embed in your posts.

9. Integrity.

Your blog is morally straight, ethical, and sincere.

You're not a hypocrite.

You are what you say you are, and you remain loyal to your professional standards, personal beliefs, and audience needs.

You keep your promises, admit mistakes, and try to correct any errors or faults.

You play fair, you don't change the rules in the middle of the game.

You would never deliberately hurt, kill, rob, confuse, trick, humiliate, harm, vandalize, infect, damage, dominate, intimidate, bully, grieve, or backstab another person or organization.

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate

36 Ways to Enhance Your Blog's Credibility

build believability into your blog Posted by Hello

To succeed, a blog must provide:

* practical value

* relevant content

* ease of use

* strong credibility

* interesting topics

* good writing, design, archiving

* friendly tone of voice

* authoritative presentation

NOTE: Be sure to CHECK all your blog's links, the hypertext links in the editorial (posts), sidebar links, blogroll links, ALL links.

"Link rot", meaning links that produce a 404 Not Found error message, must be avoided with all diligence.

Thomas Powell, Jakob Nielsen, and others warn us that "broken links" should be considered "catastrophic failures" (TP) for blog or web site credibility. It indicates either stupidity, slopping coding, or negligence.

Any blog, personal, business, artistic, literary, organizational, etc. can boost its believability...and win the loyalty and trust of adhering to these basic guidelines.

(1.) Professional and appropriate design, colors, typeface, photos, art, illustrations.

(2.) Good blog title, URL, tagline, slogan, logo, description.

(3.) Upfront display of name(s) of author(s), contributors, affiliations.

(4.) Upfront display of sponsoring company or organization.

(5.) Prominent display or link to type, purpose, mission, location, staff bios of business or organization.

(6.) Upfront "About Me", Bio, or Profile information or link.

(7.) Upfront "Contact", "Feedback" or "Email Me".

(8.) Quality writing: intelligent, interesting, personal, intimate, self-effacing, candid, honest, sympathetic, controversial, adamant, comical, or appropriate to blog author, audience, and purpose.

(9.) Absence of typos, incorrect spellings, vulgarity, street slang, grammatical errors, faulty logic, fuzzy thinking, prejudice, bitterness, drunkeness.

(10.) Absence of hype, no hard sell tactics, no high powered merchandising excess.

(11.) Perfect functionality: contact forms, registration forms, comment submission forms, captchas, file downloads, site search, print version page activation, image galleries.

(12.) Explanations of such anomolies as comment moderation/delay posting, required registration (tell benefits of), comments turned off on old posts to prevent comment spam, etc.

(13.) Presence of charts, graphs, lists, images of referenced objects and material.

(14.) Hypertext links within posts, leading to reputable substantiating information.

(15.) Timely and valuable response to emails.

(16.) Timely and valuable response to user comments, within the comment threads, and not just in a summarizing post. Avoid appearance of having staff tell you "users are saying such and such", which you then create a post to address.

(17.) Blogroll and sidebar links to relevant and reputable external sites. Not "clinking": clique linking, e.g. links to ONLY friends and other sites on your blog host. [But also see next point, #18 below.]

(18.) Links to other blogs, corporate web site, ecommerce or "store" sites, and other associated sites.

(19.) Testimonials, endorsements, caveats, compliments from reputable, trusted sources.

(20.) Editorial (post) references to reputable, trusted sources and sites.

(21.) Cite affiliations with, and memberships in, reputable and prestigious associations, trade guilds, educational institutions, discussion lists, forums, conferences, and professional, industry, or government organizations.

(22.) Display awards, commendations, certificates, honor enrollments, tributes, and other distiguished accomplishment evidence.

(23.) Minimum amount of ads, book promotions, pay-for-it downloads (e.g., e-books, white papers, PDF reports), add-ons (maps, weather advisories, calendars, chatboxes, site meters, hit counters), and widgets (audio, video, music MP3s).

(24.) Ready admission of faults, errors, regrets, shortcomings, problems, site dysfunctionalities, site limitations...with promises to fix or remedy, and clear statement of anticipated date of full compliance or realization.

(25.) Visible adherence to core values of honesty, competence, and integrity...with open debate without censorship of controversial opinions.

(26.) Courage of convictions, steadfast bravery, not wilting under pressure, not intimidated or compromised by abusers, crybaby bullies, flamers, cyber-vandals, or trollers.

(27.) Triumphant, postitive, futuristic, optimistic, forward-looking, trend-setting, pioneering attitude and environment.

(28.) Bold ability to, when appropriate, adopt a non-conformist, contrarian, herd mentality-defying, independent thinking orientation.

(29.) Relentless pursuit of ideals, tireless and eager investigation, and astute analysis of, negative aspects (that others ignore, deny, de-emphasize, sweep under the rug, or downplay).

(30.) Consistency, not deviating from ethics, organizational culture, promises, committments, obligations, standards, mission, goals and objectives.

(31.) Inquisitiveness, curiosity, openess toward reader opinions and ideas: seeking reader input, encouraging users to comment, asking readers questions, challenging readers, requesting advice, asking for suggestions.

(32.) True open forum: non-dictatorial, inviting the free expression of opposing viewpoints, protecting users from abuse and flaming, embracing diversity, anti-cultish environment, kind and welcoming to newcomers.

(33.) Strong vision and desire to accomplish mutually agreed upon goals of user community.

(34.) Tolerance toward, and willingness to learn from, enemies, detractors, those with very different belief systems, aesthetics, religions, fields of expertise, or cultures.

(35.) Tranparency (non-secretiveness) regarding strategies, influences, allegiances, alliances, agendas, guiding methodologies, tenets, organization memberships, ultimate goals.

(36.) Frequent updates, information freshness, current data, timely posting behavior.

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate

follow me to revolution Posted by Hello

Richard Edelman: Over the Wall

otw digital art: copyright 2005 steven streight Posted by Hello

Original article published on April 08, 2005. Published here with kind permission. Copyright 2005 by Edelman.

BIO: Richard Edelman is the president and CEO of the world's largest independent public relations firm with 1800 employees in 40 offices worldwide. Edelman, named 2003 Agency of the Year by The Holmes Group, has been a leader in public relations since it was founded in 1952.

Richard Edelman was named president and CEO in September 1996. Prior to that, he served as president of Edelman's U.S. operations, regional manager of Europe and manager of the firm's New York office.

Richard won the Silver Anvil, the highest award in the public relations industry, in 1981. He was named 'Best Manager of the Year' by Inside PR magazine in 1995. He serves on the board of directors of the New York Historical Society and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

He is also a member of the World Economic Forum, the Arthur Page Society, PR Seminar, the International Council of the Field Museum, and the World Corporate Ethics' Council. He has worked on several political campaigns including "Jim Thompson for Governor" and "Ed Koch for Mayor."

Richard was graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in 1972. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard College and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.

In the past week, I have attended five panels on blogs, new media and 21st century media relations.

The first was organized by Reuters, the second by the 21 Club and the other three by the Arthur W. Page Society.

The panelists included: David Weinberger, a fellow at the Berkman Center at Harvard Law School; Leslie Stahl, host of CBS' 60 Minutes; Brooke Gladstone of National Public Radio; Michael Wolf of McKinsey; Gordon Krovitz of Dow Jones; Martin Nisenholtz of the New York Times Company; Garrett Graff, contributing editor of Fishbowl who is first blogger accredited to cover White House press briefings; Jon Carson of Buzzmetrics; John Fund, author of "Political Diary" for; Halley Suitt, author of weblog Halley's Comment.

Here are some observations:

(1.) The "walled garden" is not a sustainable business model.

Nisenholtz was quite persuasive in explaining how the New York Times footprint has spread through its on-line ventures.

Specifically, the NY Times is insinuating itself into conversation. Blog meters always rank the Times #1, 2 or 3, with 16 million people coming to each month.

Even the Wall Street Journal is making available some of its on-line content to bloggers to provoke conversation (which is not commonly known)

(2.) There is great consternation on part of the traditional media about the tone and accuracy of the new media.

Leslie Stahl attributed the lack of civility in politics to a more caustic tenor in media. She said that cable news delivers shouting, partisan coverage.

Bloggers deliver an even more developed form of focused hysteria. She suggested that bloggers add content around ideas, and that most big stories are broken by mainstream media.

There is no center because cable viewers and new media readers are only getting one point of view, which is consistent with their own believes.

Leslie believes in the concept of unbiased journalism, with trust extended by viewers over time because of objectivity.

(3.) The traditional media believes that it offers a unique set of attributes that are vital in an age of information overload.

Specifically, Krovitz points to a greater reliability and quality of the traditional product, crucial to those in financial markets.

This is why the Journal has a very high penetration of "business news junkies," Krovitz said. He noted further that Dow Jones is pushing new forms of distribution, such as the Blackberry version of, now available.

Gladstone of NPR took issue with this idea of a "trust advantage" for traditional media. She contends that Jon Stewart of the Daily Show is the most trusted newscaster because he is transparent, mixes news with entertainment and because his bias is quite evident.

(4.) The advantages of the new media are conversation, personalization and on demand.

Marcus Molitas of DailyKos, a blogger, may write only 2000 words but 250,000 words appear on this blog daily through additional postings.

(5.) There is real ability to mobilize through blogs, whether employees or volunteers in a political campaign.

This week the NYTimes reported on the impact of a blog written by a resident in Minneapolis on allegation of corruption in Canadian politics.

Weinberger recounted the effectiveness of Matthew Gross, the official blogger of the Howard Dean for President campaign, in "engendering loyalty, creating a sense of community, and offering an authentic voice."

There is more credibility in blogs written by a mid-level person in an organization—Robert Scoble of Microsoft is cited as an example.

(6.) If everybody knows everything, how can a company have any control?

Wolf suggested every private space is now public--note the number of people mourning the death of Pope John Paul who took digital photos as they passed the bier. Carson of Buzzmetrics offered further insight into this issue.

Buzzmetrics' review of mentions of the 20 top global brands indicates that corporate generated content is responsible for only 12-14% of search results, while consumer generated content is 26%. The consensus is that a company's goal should not be CONTROL, it should be AWARENESS of what's being said and fast RESPONSE.

(7.) There is tremendous power in peer-to-peer recommendation.

David Martin of Interbrand said that only 15% of car buyers cited advertising as a reason they were purchasing a specific brand. He contrasted that to the power of Amazon, CraigsList or Tribe to aggregate comments by purchasers.

(8.) The traditional media will not compromise its "journalistic principles" either by hot links from editorial to advertising or by allowing its reporters to be overly opinionated.

Krovitz said, "Trust is the essence of our business."


Ok, going beyond recitation of other people's facts and views, here is some of my advice for PR people trying to adapt to a fast-changing environment.

We have to be operating in parallel universes, continuing to do a great job with traditional media, while engaging with new media. We should help our clients create original content, and advise them to engender conversations on-line but be honest about our inability to control outcomes.

We must be on top of the breaking news in companies, because news is being filled by the person who has the newest information. The coverage of tsunami initially came from survivors with cell phones or mini-cams, and delivered across the Web. Our tone in new media must reflect the different expectations of the audience, which is to demand authenticity, individuality and transparency.

We partnered with Intelliseek and David Weinberger to create a white paper on the impact of blogs in order to help our own staff, as well as clients, better understand how to engage new media. If you do download it (from the insights section) I'd welcome any feedback since it is the first in a series.

One last thought and this one comes from Lee Rainie, director, Pew Internet & American Life Project. He said, "Be Not Afraid."

Posted by Edelman at 05:36 PM

Derrida: Text and Networks

transform the world into a library...? Posted by Hello

Here's a tiny taste of what Jacques Derrida said in 1979 about text and networks.

Please notice how he touches upon hypertext linking when he says "a 'text' that is henceforth no longer a finished corpus of writing, some content enclosed in a book or its margins, but a differential network, a fabric of traces referring endlessly to something other than itself, to other differential traces."

Derrida discusses how the limits of the text are blurring, being smudged beyond recognition, undergoing a smoothing or evaporation, like sandpaper applied gratingly to the edges.

He mentions the "endless referring" of texts, and is this not what we see in blogs?

I embed a hypertext link into a text that I post. As you read my post, you can interrupt your reading, click/select a hypertext link, and off you go to another text, you read it, then go to yet another text, or return to mine.

So...where does my text end and the other begin?

Believe it or not, I decided I would just grab my copy of the hefty (625 pages) A Derrida Reader: Between the Blinds, opened it at random, and write a post on whatever my eyes landed on.

Luckily (?) for me, it was highly relevant. Or is the imaginary fictional character ghost of my perception of Jacques Derrida deriding my detractors and coming to the aid of my sorry and sullen butt?

Okay. Enough blathering. Let's dive into Derrida, my biggest influence in blogology.

Remember, this was written in 1979!


Prophetic? You decide...


If we are to approach a text, it must have an edge.

The question of the text, as it has been elaborated and transformed in the last dozen or so years, has not merely "touched" "shore," le bord (scandalously tampering, changing, as in Mallarme's declaration, "On a touche au vers"), all those boundaries that formed the running border that used to be called a text, of what we once thought this word could identify, i.e., the supposed end and beginning of a work, the unity of a corpus, the title, the margins, the signatures, the referential realm outside the frame, and so forth.

What has happened, if it has happened, is a sort of overrun [debordement] that spoils all these boundaries and divisions and forces us to extend the accredited concept, the dominant notion of a "text," of what I still call a "text," for strategic reasons, in part--a "text" that is henceforth no longer a finished corpus of writing, some content enclosed in a book or its margins, but a

differential network, a fabric of traces referring endlessly to something other than itself, to other differential traces.

Thus the text overruns all the limits assigned to it so far (not submerging or drowning them in an undifferentiated homogeneity, but rather making them more complex, dividing and multiplying strokes and lines)--all the limits, everything that was to be set up in an opposition to writing (speech, life, the world, the real, history, and what not, every field of reference--to body or mind, conscious or unconscious, politics, economics, and so forth).

Whatever the (demonstrated) necessity of such an overrun, such a debordement, it still will have come as a shock, producing endless efforts to dam up, resist, rebuild the old partitions, to blame what could no longer be thought without confusion, to blame difference as wrongful confusion!

All this has taken place in nonreading, with no work on what was thus being demonstrated, with no realization that it was never our wish to extend the reassuring notion of the text to a whole extratextual realm and to transform the world into a library by doing away with all boundaries, all framework, all sharp edges (all aretes: this is the word that I am speaking of tonight.), but that we sought rather to work out the theoretical and practical system of these margins, these borders, once more, from the ground up.

I shall not go into detail.

Documentation of all this is readily available to anyone committed to breaking down the various structures of resistance, his own resistance as such, or primarily the ramparts that bolster a system (be it theoretical, cultural, institutional, political, or whatever).


--Jacques Derrida, from "Living On: Borderlines" translated by James Hulbert. In Deconstruction and Criticism. Edited by Harold Bloom et al. New York: Seabury Press. "Survivre: Journal d bord" first published in Parages (1986).

"mode and motif" copyright 2004 by steven streight Posted by Hello

Guillaume de Gardier: Blogger Code of Ethics (find)

Original article by Guillaume de Gardier of PR Thoughtsat:

Published here with kind permission, and under a Creative Commons license. Thanks Guillaume!


This weblog [PR Thoughts] is written by Guillaume du Gardier, owner of PR Planet, based in Paris.

You will find here postings about public relations, communication, media, strategic PR, weblogs and business.
This weblog will be use to share informations, learnings, practice, thoughts and ideas.

PR Planet is a new model of PR, working on emerging trends and tools, focused on strategy and creativity.


Fondateur de l'agence PR Planet, je tente d'apporter un nouvel éclairage sur l'industrie des RP en France qui reste très fortement ancrée dans de vieux principes de fonctionnement.

PR Planet représente une nouvelle catégorie d'agence de RP, structurée selon un modèle original et utilisant des méthodes modernes, émergentes dans le déploiement des campagnes RP.

Notre activité de veille est fondamentale et inspire notre créativité, nous surveillons activement le monde des RP outre-atlantique et outre-manche pour détecter et importer de nouvelles méthodes de travail, de nouvelles approches.

Nous travaillons principalement avec des annonceurs lassés des agences classiques du marché qui ont été séduits par notre approche originale et innovante.

Via Media Guerilla from Charlene Li in her post referring to her report on corporate blogging

1. I will tell the truth.
2. I will write deliberately and with accuracy.
3. I will acknowledge and correct mistakes promptly.
4. I will preserve the original post, using notations to show where I have made changes so as to maintain the integrity of my publishing.
5. I will never delete a post.
6. I will not delete comments unless they are spam or off-topic.
7. I will reply to emails and comments when appropriate, and do so promptly.
8. I will strive for high quality with every post - including basic spellchecking.
9. I will stay on topic.
10. I will disagree with other opinions respectfully.
11. I will link to online references and original source materials directly.
12. I will disclose conflicts of interest.
13. I will keep private issues and topics private, since discussing private issues would jeopardize my personal and work relationships.

Posted by Guillaume du Gardier on November 11, 2004

Blog Wars of 2005

are you ready for blogo-combat? Posted by HelloFriends, allow me to introduce you to a grim reality.

2005 will go down in blogology history as the year of intense blogo-combat.

BLOG WARS of 2005

* deceptive bloggers vs. honest bloggers

* ghost blogs vs. blogs authored by who they say they are in the blog title, About Me, Bio, or Profile

* fictional character blogs vs. real humans seeking candid, genuine, open, interactive communication with a target audience

* mundane drivel narcissistic personal blogs vs. interesting, unique, informative, inspiring, or entertaining personal blogs

* link farm blogs (whose sole purpose is to drive traffic to target sites, to boost link popularity and search engine results page rankings) vs. legitimate blogs

* sleazy sponsored link blogs (online gambling casinos, pharmaceuticals, libido enhancement products, dubious loan companies, spyware attaching sites, etc.) vs. rich relevant content link blogs

* clinking blogroll blogs (blogrolls containing only friends or same host blogs) vs. relevant blogroll blogs

* pseudo blogs vs. real blogs

* anti-blogs (ridiculous blogs created simply to discredit the blogosphere) vs. pro blogs

* censorship blogs (that delete, or unnecessarily moderate or even close comments on posts) vs. free debate forum blogs

Keep your eyes and thoughts open.

You'll start seeing the blog aberrations, deviations, perversions, and anomolies with ever increasing frequency.

And you'll need to speak out against them.

Stay tuned, visit often, or subscribe to the Feedburner feed, of Blog Core Values... stay informed about what an effective, satisfying, fulfilling, and professional blog can be...

...and what a phony, deceptive, or even dangerously malicious blog looks like.

Fight the good fight, don't just observe it from the trenches and fortified city.

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate aka Leopold the Told...the Leper Guru, etc.

internet purification filter Posted by Hello

Complete Idiot's Guide to Complete Idiots

even fools can be unfooled Posted by Hello

Here's how a total idiot can detect another, perhaps more comprehensively idiotic, idiot.

This information will come in handy.

Please understand: Complete Idiot's Guide to Complete Idiots: How the Dumb and Dumber Can Spot and Avoid Other Dumbed Down Dummies is the title of a book I'm writing...and this is just an introductory sample of it.

The world is crawling with, or as my lovely wife would say, is "lousy with" morons, incompetents, mis-guideds, mentally unwholesomes, moral maladepts, nincompoopish nitwits, delirious dumbos, salient sillies, ghost-blogging goofs, aggravating dufeses, embargoed non-intellects, ill-mannered ignoramuses, and--plain, vanilla, standard issue, run-of-the-mill, garden-variety FOOLS.

God even had to have an entire book written to try to de-dumbify us humans: the Book of Proverbs, plus an existential deconstructionist philosophy book called Ecclesiastes.

I ain't no Omniscient Being, but as a world-class schmuck, a loser and bumbling misfit in many areas of life both past, present, and I'm sure future...

...allow me, a sometimes very stupid chap, to provide you with just a few of the Core Values or Essential Attributes of a Complete Idiot.

[I equate mediocrity, hypocrisy, deception, and malice with ignorace, as did Socrates and Buddha. Jesus was less kind, as He called dumb-assedness "darkness" in opposition to light, thus "evil" or "sin".]

Three (3) [between 2 and 4]
of the Core Values &
Essential Attributes
of a Complete Idiot

(1.) When confronted with errors, mis-quotes, inaccuracies, and other forms of wrong-headedness, the Complete Idiot will:

A. deny he said that, play dumb
B. blame his sources
C. whine and weep like a wounded victim
D. accuse the critic of persecuting him
E. mis-quote something again, hoping to pile obfuscation onto confusion
F. remain silent or suddenly change the subject
G. accuse the critic of launching a "personal" attack
H. pretend to be diplomatic and engage in big time butt kissing to try to calm and subdue the ferocious beast he imagines the critic to be

(2.) When caught doing something not quite ethical, something morally reprehensible, or unprofessionally negligent, the Complete Idiot will:

A. deny it, and hope like hell you have no proof or witnesses
B. play dumb (like Ken Lay, etc.)
C. pretend to not understand the accusation
D. protest his innocence, claim to be "misunderstood"
E. play the race card, age card (e.g., discrimination against older employees), gender card, helpless addict card, whatever card can be invented on the spot
F. accuse the accuser of having "hidden agendas"
G. proclaim "good intentions" and "going by the best information I had at the time"
H. launch an investigation and proclaim "no wrong doing" (like Abu Grahib prioner abuse scandal)
I. claim that while his act was wrong, not acting in some way would be "wronger" (like the discredited and never credible "Weapons of Mass Destruction" rationale for Iraq invasion)
J. shred, limit access to, modify, or seal the records, thus disallowing any full investigation
K. allow an investigation, but protect the real culprits at the top, and prosecute the vulnerable underlings
L. claim the accuser is too imperfect and defective to judge anybody else
M. ignore the accusations and hope the fickle public will forget about it
N. re-define or question the "exact meaning" of the words of the accusation, even "is" and "sex" and "wrong"
O. proclaim his innocence loudly and weepingly, to the bitter end, no matter how much evidence and how many credible witnesses saw it.

(3.) When in the presence of someone a bit brighter and more beneficial, the Complete Idiot will:

A. claim the smarter person, when mentioning colleagues and allies, is merely being a pretentious "name-dropper" and vain braggart
B. criticize the methods and practices of the smarter person
C. complain that the smarter person is a threat of some sort, is domineering or "full of himself"
D. complain that the smarter person is just "cutting and pasting" or borrowing the wisdom of others and claiming this wisdom is his own
E. whine about how he's accomplished many things that are not appreciated
F. view with suspicion everything the smarter person says or does, looking for slip-ups and over-zealous behavior
G. question the intentions of the smarter person, adopt a pseudo-paranoia
H. deliberately mis-quote, or put words in the mouth of, the smarter person
I. launch attacks on the smarter person, then scream "injustice", "mean-spiritedness", and "personal attack" when the smarter person attempts to clarify, defend, or launch counter-offensive
J. start kissing every butt he can find, in hopes of winning favor and thus diminishing the impact of the smarter person's acts or words

Keep just these facts and insights in mind, and you'll easily spot a Complete Idiot before they can do much damage to you, your family, your company, or your life.

Smarten Up while you still can!

Take it from a fellow dumbo: there is hope for the brain dead.

I know by experience...

...but that's a long boring story of back surgery, botched epidural steroid injections, medical malpractice, sadistic emergency room personnel, prescribed narcotics overdoses, panic attacks, pharamceutical poisons, MRIs, and etc.

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate aka Whispers the Grape aka Leopold the Told...the Leper Guru, etc.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Derrida: Signature, Event, Context (excerpt)

s.e.c. digital art copyright 2005 by steven streight Posted by Hello

Excerpt from
Signature, Event, Context
by Jacques Derrida.

A communication to the Congrès international des
Sociétés de philosophie de langue francaise, Montreal, August 1971.

From Margins of Philosophy, (Marges de la philosophie. Paris: Editions de Minuit.) Translated by Alan Bass. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982, pp. 307-330.

From Derrida Online.

"Still confining ourselves, for simplicity, to spoken utterance."

--Austin, How to Do Things with Words, p. 113 n.2.

Is it certain that there corresponds to the word "communication" a unique, univocalconcept, a concept that can be rigorously grasped and transmitted: a communicable concept?

Following a strange figure of discourse, one first must ask whether the word or signifier "communication" communicates a determined content, an identifiable meaning, a describable value.

But in order to articulate and to propose this question, I already had to anticipate the meaning of the word "communication": I have had to predetermine "communication" as the vehicle, transport, or site of passage of a meaning, and of a meaning that is one.

If communication had several meanings, and if this plurality could not be reduced, then from the outset it would not be justified to define communication itself as the transmission of a meaning, assuming that we are capable of understanding one another as concerns each of these words (transmission, meaning, etc.).

Now, the word communication, which nothing initially authorizes us to overlook as a word, and to impoverish as a polysemic word, opens a semantic field which precisely is not limited to semantics, semiotics, and even less to linguistics.

To the semantic field of the word communication belongs the fact that it also des- ignates nonsemantic movements. Here at least provisional recourse to ordinary language and to the equivocalities of natural language teaches us that one may, for example, communicate a movement or that a tremor, a shock, a displacement of force can be communicated that is, propagated, transmitted.

It is also said that different or distant places can communicate between each other by means of a given passageway or opening.

What happens in this case, what is transmitted or communicated are not phenomena of meaning or signification. In these cases we are dealing neither with a semantic or conceptual content, nor with a semiotic operation, and even less with a linguistic exchange. Nevertheless, we will not say that this nonsemiotic sense of the word communication such as it is at work in ordinary language, in one or several of the so-called natural languages, constitutes the proper or primitive meaning, and that consequently the semantic, semiotic, or linguistic meaning corresponds to a derivation, an extension or a reduction, a metaphoric displacement. We will not say, as one might be tempted to do, that semiolinguistic communication is more metaphorico entitled "communication," because by analogy with "physical" or "real" communication it gives passage, transports, transmits something, gives access to something. We will not say so:

1. because the value of literal, proper meaning appears more problematical than ever,

2. because the value of displacement, of transport, etc., is constitutive of the very concept of metaphor by means of which one allegedly understands the semantic displacement which is operated from communication as a nonsemiolinguistic phenomenon to communication as a semiolinguistic phenomenon.

(I note here between parentheses that in this communication the issue will be, already is, the problem of polysemia and communication, of dissemination which I will oppose to polysemiaand communication. In a moment, a certain concept of writing is bound to intervene, in order to transform itself, and perhaps in order to transform the problematic.)

It seems to go without saying that the field of equivocality covered by the word communication permits itself to be reduced massively by the limits of what is called a context (and I announce, again between parentheses, that the issue will be, in this communication, the problem of context, and of finding out about writing as concerns context in general).

For example, in a colloquium of philosophy in the French language, a conventional context, produced by a kind of implicit but structurally vague consensus, seems to prescribe that one propose "communications" on communication, communications in discursive form, colloquial, oral communications destined to be understood and to open or pursue dialogues within the horizon of an intelligibility and truth of meaning, such that in principle a general agreement may finally be established.

These communications are to remain within the element of a determined "natural" language, which is called French, and which commands certain very particular uses of the word communication. Above all, the object of these communications should be organized, by ' priority or by privilege, around communication as discourse, or in any event as signification.

Without exhausting all the implications and the entire structure of an "event" like this one, which would merit a very long preliminary analysis, the prerequisite I have just recalled appears evident; and for anyone who doubts this, it would suffice to consult our schedule in order to be certain of it. But are the prerequisites of a context ever absolutely determinable?

Fundamentally, this is the most general question I would like to attempt to elaborate.

Is there a rigorous and scientific concept of the context? Does not the notion of context harbor, behind a certain confusion, very determined philosophical presuppositions?

To state it now in the most summary fashion, I would like to demonstrate why a context is never absolutely determinable, or rather in what way its determination is never certain or saturated.

This structural nonsaturation would have as its double effect:

1. a marking of the theoretical insufficiency of the usual concept of (the linguistic or nonlinguistic) context such as it is accepted in numerous fields of investigation, along with all the other concepts with which it is systematically associated;

2. a rendering necessary of a certain generalization and a certain displacement of the concept of writing. The latter could no longer, henceforth, be included in the category of communication, at least if communication is understood in the restricted sense of the transmission of meaning.

Conversely, it is within the general field of writing thus defined that the effects of semantic communication will be able to be determined as particular, secondary; inscribed, supplementary effects.

Writing and Telecommunication

If one takes the notion of writing in its usually accepted sense which above all does not mean an innocent, primitive, or natural senseone indeed must see it as a means of communication.

One must even acknowledge it as a powerful means of communication which extends very far, if not infinitely, the field of oral or gestural communication. This is banally self-evident, and agreement on the matter seems easy.

I will not describe all the modes of this extension in time and in space. On the other hand I will pause over the value of extension to which I have just had recourse.

When we say that writing extends the field and powers of a locutionary or gestural communication, are we not presupposing a kind of homogenous space of communication?

The range of the voice or of gesture certainly appears to encounter a factual limit here, an empirical boundary in the form of space and time; and writing, within the same time, within the same space, manages to loosen the limits, to open the same field to a much greater range.

Meaning, the content of the semantic message, is thus transmitted, communicated, by different means, by technically more powerful mediations, over a much greater distance, but within a milieu that fundamentally continuous and equal to itself, within a homogenous element across which the unity and integrity of meaning is not affected in an essential way. Here, all affection is accidental.

The system of this interpretation (which is also in a way the system of interpretation, or in any event of an entire interpretation of hermeneutics), although it is the usual one, or to the extent that it is as usual as common sense, has been represented in the entire history of philosophy.

I will say that it is even, fundamentally, the properly philosophical interpretation of writing. I will take a single example, but I do not believe one could find, in the entire history of philosophy as such, a single counterexample, a single analysis that essentially contradicts the one proposed by Condillac, inspired, strictly speaking, by Warburton, in the Essay on the Origin of Human Knowledge (Essai sur l'origine des connaissances humaines, Paris: Galilée 1973).

I have chosen this example because an explicit reflection on the origin and function of the written (this explicitness is not encountered in all philosophy, and one should examine the conditions of its emergence or occultation) is organized within a philosophical discourse which like all philosophy presupposes the simplicity of the origin and the continuity of every derivation, every production, every analysis, the homogeneity of all orders.

Analogy is a major concept in Condillac's thought.

I choose this example also because the analysis which "retraces" the origin and function of writing is placed, in a kind of noncritical way, under the authority of the category of communication.

If men write, it is (1) because they have something to communicate; (2) because what they have to communicate is their "thought," their "ideas," their representations.

Representative thought precedes and governs communication which transports the "idea", the signified content; (3) because men are already capable of communicating and of communicating their thought to each other when, in continuous fashion, they invent the means of communication that is writing.

Here is a passage from chapter 13 of part 2 ("On Language and On Method"), section ("On the Origin and Progress of Language"), (writing is thus a modality of language and marks a continuous progress in a communication of linguistic essence), section 13, "On Writing":

"Men capable of communicating their thoughts to each other by sounds felt the necessity of imagining new signs apt to perpetuate them and to make them known to absent persons"

(I italicize this value of absence, which, if newly reexamined, will risk introducing a certain break in the homogeneity of the system).

As soon as men are capable of "communicating their thoughts," and of doing so by sounds (which is, according to Condillac, a secondary stage, articulated language coming to "supplement" the language of action, the unique and radical principle of all language), the birth and progress of writing will follow a direct, simple, and continuous line.

The history of writing will conform to a law of mechanical economy: to gain the most space and time by means of the most convenient abbreviation; it will never have the least effect on the structure and content of the meaning (of ideas) that it will have to vehiculate.

The same content, previously communicated by gestures and sounds, henceforth will be transmitted by writing, and successively by different modes of notation, from pictographic writing up to alphabetic writing, passing through the hieroglyphic writing of the Egyptians and the ideographic writing of the Chinese.

Condillac continues: "Imagination then will represent but the same images that they had already expressed by actions and words, and which had, from the beginnings, made language figurative and metaphoric.

The most natural means was therefore to draw the pictures of things. To express the idea of a man or a horse the form of one or the other will be represented, and the first attempt at writing was but a simple painting" (p. 252; my italics).

The representative character of written communicationwriting as picture, reproduction, imitation of its contentwill be the invariable trait of all the progress to come.

The concept of representation is indissociable here from the concepts of communication and expression that I have underlined in Condillac's text.

Representation, certainly, will be complicated, will be given supplementary waystations and stages, will become the representation of representation in hieroglyphic and ideographic writing, and then in phonetic-alphabetic writing, but the representative structure which marks the first stage of expressive communication, the idea/sign relationship, will never be suppressed or transformed.

Describing the history of the kinds of writing, their continuous derivation on the basis of a common radical which is never displaced and which procures a kind of community of analogical participation between all the forms of writing, Condillac concludes (and this is practically a citation of Warburton, as is almost the entire chapter): "This is the general history of writing conveyed by a simple gradation from the state of painting through that of the letter; for letters are the last steps which remain to be taken after the Chinese marks, which partake of letters precisely as hieroglyphs partake equally of Mexican paintings and of Chinese characters. These characters are so close to our writing that an alphabet simply diminishes the confusion of their number, and is their succinct abbreviation" (pp. 254-53)

Having placed in evidence the motif of the economic, homogenous, and mechanical reduction, let us now come back to the notion of absence that I noted in Condillac's text. How is it determined?

1. First, it is the absence of the addressee. One writes in order to communicate something to those who are absent. The absence of the sender, the addressor, from the marks that he abandons, which are cut off from him and continue to produce effects beyond his presence and beyond the present actuality of his meaning, that is, beyond his life itself,this absence, which however belongs to the structure of all writing and I will add, further on, of all language in generalthis absence is never examined by Condillac.

2. The absence of which Condillac speaks is determined in the most classical fashion as a continuous modification, a progressive extenuation of presence. Representation regularly supplements presence . But this operation of supplementation ("To supplement" is one of the most decisive and frequently employed operative concepts on Condillac's Essai) is not exhibited as a break in presence, but rather as a reparation and a continuous, homogenous modification of presence in representation.

Here, I cannot analyze everything that this concept of absence as a modification of presence presupposes, in Condillac's philosophy and elsewhere. Let us note merely that it governs another equally decisive operative concept (here I am classically, and for convenience, opposing operative to thematic) of the Essai: to trace and to retrace.

Like the concept of supplementing, the concept of trace could be determined otherwise than in the way Condillac determines it. According to him, to trace means "to express," "to represent," "to recall," "to make present" ("in all likelihood painting owes its origin to the necessity of thus tracing our thoughts, and this necessity has doubtless contributed to conserving the language of action, as that which could paint the most easily," p. 253).

The sign is born "at the same time as imagination and memory, at the moment when it is demanded by the absence of the object for present perception (Memory, as we have seen, consists only in the power of reminding ourselves of the signs of our ideas, or the circumstances which accompanied them; and this capacity occurs only by virtue of the analogy of signs (my italics; this concept of analogy, which organizes Condillac's entire system, in general makes certain all the continuities, particularly the continuity of presence to absence) that we have chosen, and by virtue of the order that we have put between our ideas, the objects that we wish to retrace have to do with several of our present needs" (p. 129).

This is true of all the orders of signs distinguished by Condillac (arbitrary, accidental, and even natural signs, a distinction which Condillac nuances, and on certain points, puts back into question in his Letters to Cramer).

The philosophical operation that Condillac also calls "to retrace" consists in traveling back, by way of analysis and continuous decomposition, along the movement of genetic derivation which leads from simple sensation and present perception to the complex edifice of representation: from original presence to the most formal language of calculation.

It would be simple to show that, essentially, this kind of analysis of written signification neither begins nor ends with Condillac. If we say now that this analysis is "ideological," it is not primarily in order to contrast its notions to "scientific" concepts, or in order to refer to the often dogmaticone could also say "ideological"use made of the word ideology, which today is so rarely examined for its possibility and history.

If I define notions of Condillac's kind as ideological, it is that against the background of a vast, powerful, and systematic philosophical tradition dominated by the self-evidence of the idea (eidos, idea), they delineate the field of reflection of the French "ideologues" who, in Condillac's wake, elaborated a theory of the sign as a representation of the idea, which itself represents the perceived thing.

Communication, hence, vehiculates a representation as an ideal content (which will be called meaning); and writing is a species of this general communication. A species: a communication having a relative specificity within a genus.

If we ask ourselves now what, in this analysis, is the essential predicate of this specific difference, we once again. find absence.

Here I advance the following two propositions or hypotheses:

1. Since every sign, as much in the "language of action" as in articulated language (even before the intervention of writing in the classical sense), supposes a certain absence (to be determined), it must be because absence in the field of writing is of an original kind if any specificity whatsoever of the written sign is to be acknowledged.

2. If, perchance, the predicate thus assumed to characterize the absence proper to writing were itself found to suit every species of sign and communication, there would follow a general displacement: writing no longer would be a species of communication, and all the concepts to whose generality writing was subordinated (the concept itself as meaning, idea, or grasp of meaning and idea, the concept of communication, of sign, etc.) would appear as noncritical, illformed concepts, or rather as concepts destined to ensure the authority and force of a certain historic discourse.

Let us attempt then, while continuing to take our point of departure from this classical discourse, to characterize the absence which seems to intervene in a fashion specific to the functioning of writing.

A written sign is proffered in the absence of the addressee. How is this absence to be qualified? One might say that at the moment when I write, the addressee may be absent from my field of present perception.

But is not this absence only a presence that is distant, delayed, or in one form or another idealized in its representation?

It does not seem so, or at very least this distance, division, delay, diffé rance must be capable of being brought to a certain absolute degree of absence for the structure of writing, supposing that writing exists, to be constituted. It is here that diffé rance as writing could no longer (be) an (ontological) modification of presence.

My "written communication" must, if you will, remain legible despite the absolute appearance of every determined addressee in general for it to function as writing, that is, for it to be legible.

It must be repeatableiterablein the absolute absence of the addressee or of the empirically determinable set of addressees.

This iterability (iter, once again, comes from itara, other in Sanskrit, and everything that follows may be read as the exploitation of the logic which links repetition to alterity), structures the mark of writing itself, and does so moreover for no matter what type of writing (pictographic, hieroglyphic, ideographic, phonetic, alphabetic, to use the old categories).

A writing that was not structurally legibleiterablebeyond the death of the addressee would not be writing.

Although all this appears selfevident, I do not want it to be assumed as such, and will examine the ultimate objection that might be made to this proposition.

Let us imagine a writing with a code idiomatic enough to have been founded and known, as a secret cipher, only by two "subjects."

Can it still be said that upon the death of the addressee, that is, of the two partners, the mark left by one of them is still a writing?

Yes, to the extent to which, governed by a code, even if unknown and nonlinguistic, it is constituted, in its identity as a mark, by its iterability in the absence of whoever, and therefore ultimately in the absence of every empirically determinable "subject."

This implies that there is no code- an organon of iterability that is structurally secret.

The possibility of repeating, and therefore of identifying, marks is implied in every code, making of it a communicable, transmittable, decipherable grid that is iterable for a third party, and thus for any possible user in general.

All writing, therefore, in order to be what it is, must be able to function in the radical absence of every empirically determined addressee in general.

And this absence is not a continuous modification of presence; it is a break in presence, "death," or the possibility of the "death" of the addressee, inscribed in the structure of the mark (and it is at this point, I note in passing, that the value or effect of transcendentality is linked necessarily to the possibility of writing and of "death" analyzed in this ,way).

A perhaps paradoxical consequence of the recourse I am taking to iteration and to the code: the disruption, in the last analysis, of the authority of the code as a finite system of rules; the radical destruction, by the same token, of every context as a protocol of a code.

We will come to this in a moment.

What holds for the addressee holds also, for the same reasons, for the sender or the producer. To write is to produce a mark that will constitute a kind of machine that is in turn productive, that my future disappearance in principle will not prevent from functioning and from yielding, and yielding itself to, reading and rewriting. When I say "my future disappearance," I do so to make this proposition more immediately acceptable.

I must be able simply to say my disappearance, my nonpresence in general, for example the nonpresence of my meaning, of my intention-to-signify, of my wanting-to-communicate-this, from the emission or production of the mark.

For the written to be the written, it must continue to "act" and to be legible even if what is called the author of the writing no longer answers for what he has written, for what he seems to have signed, whether he is provisionally absent, or if he is dead, or if in general he does not support, with his absolutely current and present intention or attention, the plenitude of his meaning, of that very thing which seems to be written "in his name."

Here, we could reelaborate the analysis sketched out above for the addressee. The situation of the scribe and of the subscriber, as concerns the written, is fundamentally the same as that of the reader.

This essential drifting, due to writing as an iterative structure cut off from all absolute responsibility, from consciousness as the authority of the last analysis, writing orphaned, and separated at birth from the assistance of its father, is indeed what Plato con- demned in the Phaedrus.

If Plato's gesture is, as I believe, the philosophical movement par excellence, one realizes what is at stake here.

Before specifying the inevitable consequences of these nuclear traits of all writingto wit:

(1) the break with the horizon of communication as the com- munication of consciousnesses or presences, and as the linguistic or semantic transport of meaning;

(2) the subtraction of all writing from the semantic horizon or the hermeneutic horizon which, at least as a horizon of meaning, lets itself be punctured by writing;

(3) the necessity of, in a way, separating the concept of polysemia from the concept I have elsewhere named dissemination, which is also the concept of writing;

(4) the disqualification or the limit of the concept of the "real" or "linguistic" context, whose theoretical determination or empirical saturation are, strictly speaking, rendered impossible or insufficient by writing I would like to demonstrate that the recognizable traits of the classicaland narrowly defined concept of writing are generalizable.

They would be valid not only for all the orders of "signs" and for all languages in general, but even, beyond semiolinguistic communication, for the entire field of what philosophy would call experience, that is, the experience of Being: so-called "presence."

In effect, what are the essential predicates in a minimal determination of the classical concept of writing?

1. A written sign, in the usual sense of the word, is therefore a mark which remains, which is not exhausted in the present of its inscription~ and which can give rise to an iteration both in the absence of and beyond the presence of the empirically determined subject who, in a given context, has emitted or produced it. This is how, traditionally at least, "written communication" is distinguished from "spoken communication."

2. By the same token, a written sign carries with it a force of breaking with its context, that is, the set of presences which organize the moment of its inscription.

This force of breaking is not an accidental predicate, but the very structure of the written. If the issue is one of the so-called "real" context, what I have just proposed is too obvious.

Are part of this alleged real context a certain "present" of inscription, the presence of the scriptor in what he has written, the entire environment and horizon of his experience, and above all the intention, the meaning which at a given moment would animate his inscription.

By all rights, it belongs to the sign to be legible, even if the moment of its production is irremediably lost, and even if I do not know what its alleged author-scriptor meant consciously and intentionally at the moment he wrote it, that is abandoned it to its essential drifting.

Turning now to the semiotic and internal context, there is no less a force of breaking by virtue of its essential iterability; one can always lift a written syntagma from the interlocking chain in which it is caught or given without making it lose every possibility of functioning, if not every possibility of "communicating," precisely.

Eventually, one may recognize other such possibilities in it by inscribing or grafting it into other chains. No context can enclose it. Nor can any code, the code being here both the possibility and impossibility of writing, of its essential iterability (repetition/alterity).

3. This force of rupture is due to the spacing which constitutes the written sign: the spacing which separates it from other elements of the internal contextual chain (the always open possibility of its extraction and grafting), but also from all the forms of a present referent (past or to come in the modified form of the present past or to come) that is objective or subjective.

This spacing is not the simple negativity of a lack, but the emergence of the mark. However, it is not the work of the negative in the service of meaning, or of the living concept, the telos, which remains relevable and reducible in the Aufhebung of a dialectics.

Are these three predicates, along with the entire system joined to them, reserved, as is so often believed, for "written" communication, in the narrow sense of the word? Are they not also to be found in all language, for example in spoken language, and ultimately in the totality of "experience," to the extent that it is not separated from the field of the mark, that is, the grid of erasure and of difference-of unities of iterability, of unities separable from their internal or external context, and separable from themselves, to the extent that the very iterability which constitutes their identity never permits them to be a unity of self-identity?

Let us consider any element of spoken language, a large or small unity. First condition for it to function: its situation as concerns a certain code; but I prefer not to get too involved here with the concept of code, which does not appear certain to me; let us say that a certain self-identity of this element (mark, sign, etc.) must permit its recognition and repetition.

Across empirical variations of tone, of voice, etc., eventually of a certain accent, for example, one must be able to recognize the identity, shall we say, of a signifying form. Why is this identity paradoxically the division or dissociation from itself which will make of this phonic sign a grapheme?

It is because this unity of the signifying form is constituted only by its iterability, by the possibility of being repeated in the absence not only of its referent, which goes without saying, but of a determined signified or current intention of signification, as of every present intention of communication.

This structural possibility of being severed from its referent or signified (and therefore from communication and its context) seems to me to make of every mark, even if oral, a grapheme in general, that is, as we have seen, the nonpresent remaining of a differential mark cut off from its alleged "production" or origin. And I will extend this law even to all "experience" in general, if it is granted that there is no experience of pure presence, but only chains of differential marks.

Let us remain at this point for a while, and come back to the absence of the referent and even of the signified sense, and therefore of the correlative intention of signification.

The absence of the referent is a possibility rather easily admitted today. This possibility is not only an empirical eventuality. It constructs the mark; and the eventual presence of the referent at the moment when it is designated changes nothing about the structure of a mark which implies that it can do without the referent.

Husserl, in the Logical Investigations, had very rigorously analyzed this possibility. It is double:

1. A statement whose object is not impossible but only possible might very well be proffered and understood without its real object (its referent) being present, whether for the person who produces the statement, or for the one who receives it.

If I say, while looking out the window, "The sky is blue," the statement will be intelligible (let us provisionally say, if you will, communicable), even if the interlocutor does not see the sky; even if I do not see it myself, if I see it poorly, if I am mistaken, or if I wish to trick my interlocutor.

Not that it is always thus; but the structure of possibility of this statement includes the capability of being formed and of functioning either as an empty reference, or cut off from its referent.

Without this possibility, which is also the general. generalizable, and generalizing iteration of every mark, there would be no statements.

2. The absence of the signified. Husserl analyzes this too. He considers it always possible, even if, according to the axiology and teleology which govern his analysis, he deems this possibility inferior, dangerous, or "critical": it opens the phenomenon of the crisis of meaning. This absence of meaning can be layered according to three forms:

a. I can manipulate symbols without in active and current fashion animating them with my attention and intention to signify (the crisis of mathematical symbolism, according to Husserl). Husserl indeed stresses the fact that this does not prevent the sign from functioning: the crisis or vacuity of mathematical meaning does not limit technical progress. (The intervention of writing is decisive here, as Husserl himself notes in The Origin of Geometry.)

b. Certain statements can have a meaning, although they are without objective signification.

"The circle is square" is a proposition invested with meaning. It has enough meaning for me to be able to judge it false or contradictory (wider- sinnig and not sinnlos, says Husserl).

I am placing this example under the category of the absence of the signified, although the tripartition signifier/signified/referent does not pertinently account for Husserl's analysis. "Square circle" marks the absence of a referent, certainly, and also the absence of a certain signified, but not the absence of meaning. In these two cases, the crisis of meaning (nonpresence in general, absence as the absence of the referentof perception or of meaningof the actual intention to signify) is always linked to the essential possibility of writing; and this crisis is not an accident, a factual and empirical anomaly of spoken language, but also the positive possibility and "internal" structure of spoken language, from a certain outside.

c. Finally there is what Husserl calls Sinnlosigkeit or agrammaticality. For example, "green is or" or "abracadabra."

In the latter cases, as far as Husserl is concerned, there is no more language, or at least no more "logical" language, no more language of knowledge as Husserl understands it in teleological fashion, no more language attuned to the possibility of the intuition of objects given in person and signified in truth.

Here, we are confronted with a decisive difficulty.

Before pausing over it, I note, as a point which touches upon our debate on communication, that the primary interest of the Husserlian analysis to which I am referring here (precisely by extracting it, up to a certain point, from its teleological and metaphysical context and horizon, an operation about which we must ask how and why it is always possible) is that it alleges, and it seems to me arrives at, a rigorous dissociation of the analysis of the sign or expression (Ausdruck) as a signifying sign, a sign meaning something (bedeutsame Zeichen from all phenomena of communication.

Let us take once more the case of agrammatical Sinnlosigkeit. What interests Husserl in the Logical Investigations is the system of rules of a universal grammar, not from a linguistic point of view, but from a logical and epistemological point of view.

In an important note from the second edition,7 he specifies that from his point of view the issue is indeed one of a purely logical grammar, that is the universal conditions of possibility for a morphology of significations in the re- lation of knowledge to a possible object, and not of a pure grammar in general, considered from a psychological or linguistic point of view.

Therefore, it is only in a context determined by a will to know, by an epistemic intention, by a "conscious relation to the object as an object of knowledge within a horizon of truth it is in this oriented contextual field that "green is or" is unacceptable.

But, since "green is or" or "abracadabra" do not constitute their context in themselves, nothing prevents their functioning in another context as signifying marks (or indices, as Husserl would say).

Not only in the contingent case in which, by means of the translation of German into French "le vert est ou" might be endowed with grammaticality, ou (oder, or) becoming when heard où ' (where, the mark of place):

"Where has the green (of the grass) gone (le vert est où )?," "Where has the glass in which I wished to give you something to drink gone (le verre est où )." But even "green is or" still signifies an example of agrammaticality.

This is the possibility on which I wish to insist: the possibility of extraction and of citational grafting which belongs to the structure of every mark, spoken or written, and which constitutes every mark as writing even before and outside every horizon of semiolinguistic communication; as writing, that is, as a pos- sibility of functioning cut off, at a certain point, from its "original" meaning and from its belonging to a saturable and constraining context.

Every sign, linguistic or nonlinguistic, spoken or written (in the usual sense of this opposition), as a small or large unity, can be cited, put between quotation marks; thereby it can break with every given context, and engender infinitely new contexts in an absolutely nonsaturable fashion.

This does not suppose that the mark is valid outside its context, but on the contrary that there are only contexts without any center of absolute anchoring. This citationality, duplication, or duplicity, this iterability of the mark is not an accident or an anomaly, but is that (normal/ abnormal) without which a mark could no longer even have a so-called "normal" functioning.

What would a mark be that one could not cite? And whose origin could not be lost on the way?

The Parasites. Iter, of Writing: That Perhaps It Does Not Exist

I now propose to elaborate this question a little further with help from - but in order to go beyond it too - the problematic of the performative. It has several claims to our interest here.

1. Austin, by his emphasis on the analysis of perlocution and especially illocution, indeed seems to consider acts of discourse only as acts of communication. This is what his French translator notes, citing Austin himself:

"It is by comparing the constative utterance (that is, the classical 'assertion,' most often conceived as a true or false 'description' of the facts) with the performative utterance (from the English performative, that is, the utterance which allows us to do something by means of speech itself) that Austin has been led to consider every utterance worthy of the name (that is, destined to communicate which would exclude, for example, reflex-exclamations) as being first and foremost a speech act produced in the total situation in which the interlocutors find themselves ( How to Do Things With Words, p. 147)" .

2. This category of communication is relatively original.

Austin's notions of illocution and perlocution do not designate the transport or passage of a content of meaning, but in a way the communication of an original movement (to be defined in a general theory of action), an operation, and the production of an effect.

To communicate, in the case of the performative, if in all rigor and purity some such thing exists (for the moment I am placing myself within this hypothesis and at this stage of the analysis), would be to communicate a force by the impetus of a mark.

3. Differing from the classical assertion, from the constative utterance, the performative's referent (although the word is inappropriate here, no doubt, such is the interest of Austin's finding) is not outside it, or in any case preceding it or before it.

It does not describe something which exists outside and before language.

It produces or transforms a situation, it operates; and if it can be said that a constative utterance also effectuates something and always transforms a situation, it cannot be said that this constitutes its internal structure, its manifest function or destination, as in the case of the performative.

4. Austin had to free the analysis of the performative from the authority of the value of truth, from the opposition true/false, at least in its classical form, occasionally substituting for it the value of force, of difference of force (illocutionary or perlocutionary force).

(It is this, in a thought which is nothing less than Nietzschean, which seems to me to beckon toward Nietzsche; who often recognized in himself a certain affinity with a vein of English thought.)

For these four reasons, at least, it could appear that Austin has exploded the concept of communication as a purely semiotic, linguistic, or symbolic concept. The performative is a "communication" which does not essentially limit itself to transporting an already constituted semantic content guarded by its own aiming at truth (truth as an unveiling of that which is in its Being, or as an adequation between a judicative statement and the thing itself).

And yet - at least this is what I would like to attempt to indicate now - all the difficulties encountered by Austin in an analysis that is patient, open, aporetic, in constant transformation, often more fruitful in the recognition of its impasses than in its positions, seem to me to have a common root.

It is this: Austin has not taken into account that which in the structure of locution (and therefore before any illocutory or perlocutory determination) already bears within itself the system of predicates that I call graphematic in general, which therefore confuses all the ulterior oppositions whose pertinence, purity, and rigor Austin sought to establish in vain.

In order to show this, I must take as known and granted that Austin's analyses permanently demand a value of context, and even of an exhaustively determinable context, whether de jure or teleologically; and the long list of "infelicities" of variable type which might affect the event of the performative always returns to an element of what Austin calls the total context.

One of these essential elementsand not one among othersclassically remains consciousness, the conscious presence of the intention of the speaking subject, for the totality of his locutory act.

Thereby, performative communication once more becomes the communication of an intentional meaning, even if this meaning has no referent in the form of a prior or exterior thing or state of things.

This conscious presence of the speakers or receivers who participate in the effecting of a performative, their conscious and intentional presence in the totality of the operation, implies teleologically that no remainder escapes the present totalization.

No remainder, whether in the definition of the requisite conventions, or the internal and linguistic context, or the grammatical form or semantic determination of the words used; no irreducible polysemia, that is no "dissemination" escaping the horizon of the unity of meaning.

I cite the first two lectures of How to Do Things with Words: "Speaking generally, it is always necessary that the circumstances in which the words are uttered should be in some way, or ways, appropriate, and it is very commonly necessary that either the speaker himself or other persons should also perform certain other actions, whether 'physical' or 'mental' actions or even acts of uttering further words.

Thus, for naming the ship, it is essential that I should be the person appointed to name her, for (Christian) marrying, it is essential that I should not be already married with a wife living, sane and undivorced, and so on; for a bet to have been made, it is generally necessary for the offer of the bet to have been accepted by a taker (who must have done something, such as to say 'Done'), and it is hardly a gift if I say 'I give it you' but never hand it over. So far, well and good" (pp. 8-9).

In the Second Lecture, after having in his habitual fashion set aside the grammatical criterion, Austin examines the possibility and origin of the failures or "infelicities" of the performative utterance. He then defines the six indispensable, if not sufficient, conditions for success.

Through the values of "conventionality," "correctness," and "completeness" that intervene in the definition, we necessarily again find those of an exhaustively definable context, of a free consciousness present for the totality of the operation, of an absolutely full meaning that is master of itself: the teleological jurisdiction of a total field whose intention remains the organizing center (pp. 12-16).

Austin's procedure is rather remarkable, and typical of the philosophical tradition that he prefers to have little to do with. It consists in recognizing that.the possibility of the negative (here, the infelicities) is certainly a structural possibility, that failure is an essential risk in the operations under consideration; and then, with an almost immediately simultaneous gesture made in the name of a kind of ideal regulation, an exclusion of this risk as an accidental, exterior one that teaches us nothing about the language phenomenon under consideration.

This is all the more curious, and actually rigorously untenable, in that Austin denounces with irony the "fetish" of opposition value/fact.

Thus, for example, concerning the conventionality without which there is no performative, Austin recognizes that all conventional acts are exposed to failure:

"It seems clear in the first place that, although it has excited us (or failed to excite us) in connexion with certain acts which are or are in part acts of uttering words, infelicity is an ill to which all acts are heir which have the general character of ritual or ceremonial, all conventional acts: not indeed that every/ ritual is liable to every form of infelicity (but then nor is every performative utterance)" (pp. 18-19).

Aside from all the questions posed by the very historically sedimented notion of "convention," we must notice here:

(1) That in this specific place Austin seems to consider only the conventionality that forms the circumstance of the statement, its contextual surroundings, and not a certain intrinsic conventionality of that which constitutes locution itself, that is, everything that might quickly be summarized under the problematic heading of the "arbitrariness of the sign" extends, aggravates, and radicalizes the difficulty. Ritual is not an eventuality, but, as iterability, is a structural characteristic of every mark.

(2) That the value of risk or of being open to failure, although it might, as Austin recognizes, affect the totality of conventional acts, is not examined as an essential predicate or law.

Austin does not ask himself what consequences derive from the fact that something possiblea possible riskis always possible, is somehow a necessary possibility. And if, such a necessary possibility of failure being granted, it still constitutes an accident.

What is a success when the possibility of failure continues to constitute its structure?

Therefore the opposition of the success/failure of illocution or perlocution here seems quite insufficient or derivative.

It presupposes a general and systematic elaboration of the structure of locution which avoids the endless alternation of essence and accident.

Now, it is very significant that Austin rejects this "general theory," defers it on two occasions, notably in the Second Lecture.

I leave aside the first exclusion. ("I am not going into the general doctrine here: in many such cases we may even say the act was 'void' (or voidable for duress or undue influence) and so forth.

Now I suppose that some very general high-level doctrine might embrace both what we have called infelicities and these other 'unhappy' features of the doing of actionsin our case actions containing a performative utterancein a single doctrine: but we are not including this kind of unhappinesswe must just remember, though, that features of this sort can and do constantly obtrude into any case we are discussing. Features of this sort would normally come under the heading of 'extenuating circumstances' or of 'factors reducing or abrogating the agent's responsibility,' and so on"; p. 21; my italics).

The second gesture of exclusion concerns us more directly here. In question, precisely, is the possibility that every performative utterance (and a priori every other utterance) may be "cited."

Now, Austin excludes this eventuality (and the general doctrine which would account for it) with a kind of lateral persistence, all the more significant in its off-sidedness. He insists upon the fact that this possibility remains abnormal, parasitical, that it constitutes a kind of extenuation, that is an agony of language that must firmly be kept at a distance, or from which one must resolutely turn away. And the concept of the "ordinary," and therefore of "ordinary language," to which he then has recourse is indeed marked by this exclusion.

This makes it all the more problematic, and before demonstrating this, it would be better to read a paragraph from this Second Lecture:

"(ii) Secondly, as utterances our performatives are also heir to certain other kinds of ill which infect all utterances. And these likewise, though again they might be brought into a more general account, we are deliberately at present excluding. I mean, for example, the following: a performative utterance will, for example, be in a peculiar way hollow or void if said by an actor on the stage, or if introduced in a poem, or spoken in soliloquy. This applies in a similar manner to any and every utterancea sea-change in special circumstances. Language in such circumstances is in special waysintelligiblyused not seriously, but in ways parasitic upon its normal useways which fall under the doctrine of the etiolations of language. All this we are excluding from consideration. Our performative utterances, felicitous or not, are to be understood as issued in ordinary circumstances" (pp. 21-22).

Austin therefore excludes, along with what he calls the sea-change, the "non-serious," the "parasitic," the "etiolations," the "non-ordinary" (and with them the general theory which in accounting for these oppositions no longer would be governed by them), which he nevertheless recognizes as the possibility to which every utterance is open.

It is also as a "parasite" that writing has always been treated by the philosophical tradition, and the rapprochement, here, is not at all fortuitous.

Therefore, I ask the following question: is this general possibility necessarily that of a failure or a trap into which language might fall, or in which language might lose itself, as if in an abyss situated outside or in front of it?

What about parasitism? In other words, does the generality of the risk admitted by Austin surround language like a kind of ditch, a place of external perdition into which locution might never venture, that it might avoid by remaining at home, in itself, sheltered by its essence or telos?

Or indeed is this risk, on the contrary, its internal and positive condition of possibility? this outside its inside? the very force and law of its emergence?

In this last case, what would an "ordinary" language defined by the very law of language signify?

Is it that in excluding tile general theory of this structural parasitism, Austin, who nevertheless pretends to describe the facts and events of ordinary language, makes us accept as ordinary a teleological and ethical determination (the univocality of the statement which he recognizes elsewhere remains a philosophical "ideal," pp. 72-73 the self-presence of a total context, the transparency of intentions, the presence of meaning for the absolutely singular oneness of a speech act, etc.)?

For, finally, is not what Austin excludes as anomalous, exceptional, "nonserious," that is , citation (on the stage, in a poem, or in a soliloquy), the determined modification of a general citationality - or rather, a general iterability - without which there would not even be a "successful" performative?

Such that - a paradoxical, but inevitable consequence - a successful performative is necessarily an "impure" performative, to use the word that Austin will employ later on when he recognizes that there is no "pure" performative.

Now I will take things from the side of positive possibility, and no longer only from the side of failure: would a performative statement be possible if a citational doubling did not eventually split, dissociate from itself the pure singularity of the event?

I am asking the question in this form in order to forestall an objection. In effect, it might be said to me: you cannot allege that you account for the so- called graphematic structure of locution solely on the basis of the occurrence of failures of the performative, however real these failures might be, and however effective or general their possibility.

You cannot deny that there are also performatives that succeed, and they must be accounted for: sessions are opened, as Paul Ricoeur did yesterday, one says "I ask a question," one bets, one challenges, boats are launched, and one even marries occasionally.

Such events, it appears, have occurred.

And were a single one of them to have taken place a single time, it would still have to be accounted for.

I will say "perhaps." Here, we must first agree upon what the "occurring" or the eventhood of an event consists in, when the event supposes in its allegedly present and singular intervention a statement which in itself can be only of a repetitive or citational structure, or rather, since these last words lead to confusion, of an iterable structure.

Therefore, I come back to the point which seems fundamental to me, and which now concerns the status of the event in general, of the event of speech or by speech, of the strange logic it supposes, and which often remains unperceived.

Could a performative statement succeed if its formulation did not repeat a "coded" or iterable statement, in other words if the expressions I use to open a meeting, launch a ship or a marriage were not identifiable as conforming to an iterable model, and therefore if they were not identifiable in a way as "citation"?

Not that citationality here is of the same type as in a play, a philosophical reference, or the recitation of a poem.

This is why there is a relative specificity, as Austin says, a "relative purity" of performatives.

But this relative purity is not constructed against citationality or iterability, but against other kinds of iteration within a general iterability which is the effraction into the allegedly rigorous purity of every event of discourse or every speech act.

Thus, one must less oppose citation or iteration to the noniteration of an event, than construct a differential typology of citation, supposing that this is a tenable project that can give rise to an exhaustive program, a question I am holding off on here.

In this typology, the category of intention will not disappear; it will have its place, but from this place it will no longer be able to govern the entire scene and the entire system of utterances.

Above all, one then would be concerned with different types of marks or chains of iterable marks, and not with an opposition between citational statements on the one hand, and singular and original statement-events on the other.

The first consequence of this would be the following: given this structure of iteration, the intention which animates utterance will never be completely present in itself and its content. The iteration which structures it a priori introduces an essential dehiscence and demarcation.

One will no longer be able to exclude, as Austin wishes, the "non-serious," the oratio obliqua, from "ordinary" language. And if it is alleged that ordinary language, or the ordinary circumstance of language, excludes citationality or general iterability, does this not signify that the "ordinariness" in question, the thing and the notion, harbors a lure, the teleological lure of consciousness whose motivations, indestructible necessity, .and systematic. effects remain to be analyzed?

Especially since this essential absence of intention for the actuality of the statement, this structural unconsciousness if you will, prohibits every saturation of a context.

For a context to be exhaustively determinable, in the sense demanded by Austin, it at least would be necessary for the conscious intention to be totally present and actually transparent for itself and others, since it is a determining focal point of the context.

The concept of or quest for the "context" therefore seems to suffer here from the same theoretical and motivated uncertainty as the concept of the "ordinary," from the same metaphysical origins: an ethical and teleological discourse of consciousness. This time, a reading of the connotations of Austin's text would confirm the reading of its descriptions; I have just indicated the principle of this reading.

Diffé rance, the irreducible absence of intention or assistance from the performative statement, from the most "event-like" statement possible, is what authorizes me, taking into account the predicates mentioned just now, to posit the general graphematic structure of every "communication."

Above all, I will not conclude from this that there is no relative specificity of the effects of consciousness, of the effects of speech (in opposition to writing in the traditional sense), that there is no effect of. the performative, no effect of ordinary language, no effect of presence and of speech acts It is simply that these effects do not exclude what is generally opposed to them term by term, but on the contrary presuppose it in dyssemtrical fashion, as the general space of their possibility.


This general space is first of all spacing as the disruption of presence in the mark, what here I am calling writing That all the difficulties encountered by Austin intersect at the point at which both presence and writing are in question, is indicated for me by a passage from the Fifth Lecture in which the divided agency of the legal signature emerges.

Is it by chance that Austin must note at this point:

"I must explain again that we are floundering here To feel the firm ground of prejudice slipping away is exhilarating, but brings its revenges" (p 61)

Only a little earlier an "impasse" had appeared, the impasse one comes to each time "any single simple criterion of grammar or vocabulary" is sought in order to distinguish between performative or constative statements.

(I must say that this critique of linguisticism and of the authority of the code, a critique executed on the basis of an analysis of language, is what most interested me and convinced me in Austin's enterprise.)

He then attempts to justify, with nonlinguistic reasons, the preference he has shown until now for the forms of the first-person present indicative in the active voice in the analysis of the performative.

The justification of last appeal is that in these forms reference is made to what Austin calls the source (origin) of the utterance.

This notion of the source whose stakes are so evidentoften reappears in what follows, and it governs the entire analysis in the phase we are examining.

Not only does Austin not doubt that the source of an oral statement in the first person present indicative (active voice) is present in the utterance and in the statement, (I have attempted to explain why we had reasons not to believe so), but he no more doubts that the equivalent of this link to the source in written utterances is simply evident and ascertained in the signature:

"Where there is not, in the verbal formulation of the utterance, a reference to the person doing the uttering, and so the acting, by means of the pronoun 'I' (or by his personal name), then in fact he will be 'referred to' in one of two ways:

"(a) In verbal utterances, by his being the person who does the utteringwhat we may call the-utterance-origin which is used generally in any system of verbal reference-co-ordinates.

"(b) In written utterances (or 'inscriptions'), by his appending his signature (this has to be done because, of course, written utterances are not tethered to their origin in the way spoken ones are)" (pp. 60-61).

Austin acknowledges an analogous function in the expression "hereby" used in official protocols.

Let us attempt to analyze the signature from this point of view, its relation to the present and to the source. I take it as henceforth implied in this analysis, that all the established predicates will hold also for the oral "signature" that is or allegedly is, the presence of the "author" as the "person who does the uttering," as the "origin," the source, in the production of the statement.

By definition, a written signature implies the actual or empirical nonpresence of the signer. But, it will be said, it also marks and retains his having-been present in a past now, which will remain a future now, and therefore in a now in general, in the transcendental form of nowness (maintenance).

This general maintenance is somehow inscribed, stapled to present punctuality, always evident and always singular, in the form of the signature.

This is the enigmatic originality of every paraph. For the attachment to the source to occur, the absolute singularity of an event of the signature and of a form of the signature must be retained: the pure reproducibility of a pure event.

Is there some such thing? Does the absolute singularity of an event of the signature ever occur? Are there signatures?

Yes, of course, every day.

The effects of signature are the most ordinary thing in the world. The condition of possibility for these effects is simultaneously once again, the condition of their impossibility, of the impossibility of their rigorous purity.

In order to function, that is, in order to be legible, a signature must have a repeatable, iterable, imitable form; it must be able to detach itself from the present and singular intention of its production.

It is its sameness which, in altering its identity and singularity, divides the seal.

I have already indicated the principle of the analysis above.

To conclude this very dry discourse:

1. As writing, communication, if one insists upon maintaining the word, is not the means of transport of sense, the exchange of intentions and meanings, the discourse and "communication of consciousnesses."

We are not witnessing an end of writing which, to follow McLuhan's ideological representation, would restore a transparency or immediacy of social relations; but indeed a more and more powerful historical unfolding of a general writing of which the system of speech, consciousness, meaning, presence, truth, etc., would only be an effect, to be analyzed as such.

It is this questioned effect that I have elsewhere called logocentrism.

2. The semantic horizon which habitually governs the notion of communication is exceeded or punctured by the intervention of writing, that is of a dissemination which cannot be reduced to a polysemia. Writing is read, and "in the last analysis" does not give rise to a hermeneutic deciphering, to the decoding of a meaning or truth.

3. Despite the general displacement of the classical, "philosophical," Western, etc., concept of writing, it appears necessary, provisionally and strategically, to conserve the old name.

This implies an entire logic of paleonymy which I do not wish to elaborate here. Very schematically: an opposition of metaphysical concepts (for example, speech/writing, presence/absence, etc.) is never the face-to-face of two terms, but a hierarchy and an order of subordination.

Deconstruction cannot limit itself or proceed immediately to a neutralization: it must, by means of a double gesture, a double science, a double writing, practice an overturning of the classical opposition and a general displacement of the system. It is only on this condition that deconstruction will provide itself the means with which to intervene in the field of oppositions that it criticizes, which is also a field of nondiscursive forces.

Each concept, moreover, belongs to a systematic chain, and itself constitutes a system of predicates. There is no metaphysical concept in and of itself. There is a work - metaphysical or not - on conceptual systems.

Deconstruction does not consist in passing from one concept to another, but in overturning and displacing a conceptual order, as well as the nonconceptual order with which the conceptual order is articulated.

For example, writing, as a classical concept, carries with it predicates which have been subordinated, excluded, or held in reserve by forces and according to necessities to be analyzed.

It is these predicates (I have mentioned some) whose force of generality, generalization, and generativity find themselves liberated, grafted onto a "new" concept of writing which also corresponds to whatever always has resisted the former organization of forces, which always has constituted the remainder irreducible to the dominant force which organized the - to say it quickly - logocentric hierarchy.

To leave to this new concept the old name of writing is to maintain the structure of the graft, the transition and indispensable adherence to an effective intervention in the constituted historic field.

And it is also to give their chance and their force, their power of communication, to everything played out in the operations of deconstruction.

But what goes without saying will quickly have been understood, especially in a philosophical colloquium: as a disseminating operation separated from presence (of Being) according to all its modifications, writing, if there is any, perhaps communicates, but does not exist, surely.

Or barely, hereby, in the form of the most improbable signature.

(Remark: the - written - text of this - oral - communication was to have been addressed to the Association of French Speaking Societies of Philosophy before the meeting. Such a missive therefore had to be signed. Which I did, and counterfeit here. Where? There. J.D )