Writing as Distilled Thought

November 04, 2019

This post is part of Blogging Futures , a collaborative self-reflexive interblog conversation about the future of blogging. Feel free to join the conversation!

Exploring different models and paradigms for the future of blogging structures (gardens, chains, labyrinths, fractals...) can be useful to imagine what blogging could look like, and deciding which of these futures do we want to participate in and explore. However I'm going to take a step back from blogging structures for a moment to look at structures of the mind...

But we can also identify blogging by something less tangible, more of a stance or ethos for written exploration. I tend to think of blogging as “thinking out loud”, a combination of personal essay, journaling, brainstorming and public memo.

Proposal for Near-Future Blogging Megastructures

Lately I have been thinking about thinking; metacognating about metacognition. The current paradigms for different types of thinking are inadequate and generally rather misleading. Popular science dictates that we think creatively, logically, convergently, divergently, concretely, and everything in-between-ly. These do little to help guide or structure our thinking process, I'd be surprised if anyone actually can sit down and decide to think creatively. We sit down to write, paint, talk, sing, create, and the creativity, structure, and divergence of thought is simply a byproduct of action.

I like to think of writing as a type of distilled thought. The act of writing forces you to organize and distill your ideas into something more tangible. Through writing you uncover foggy areas of your thinking or understanding, and in the process you work to clarify these ideas not only on the page but within your mind. This creates a positive feedback loop: writing clarifies thought, and clearer thought leads to more elaborate or meaningful writing.

Another distinctive type of thinking is conversation. Once you venture beyond vague small-talk, a conversation can become a kind of collaborative thinking. Bouncing ideas back and forth like a game of tennis. Each person brings their own experiences, thoughts, and ideas, and shapes the conversation in different ways. Through conversation you can think thoughts which might not have been possible to think through a different method of thought, and vice-versa.

I propose a paradigm of metacognition where every action is a method or tool for thought. The model however has another layer. Since thought exists as patterns of neuronal activation, our thoughts are influenced not only by our actions, but also our internal and external environment. Writing might structure your thought in certain ways, but where you sit to write can either serve to inspire or distract from the process.

Back to blogging futures, I think that this blogging chain creates a synergy between processes of both writing and conversation. The distilled, structured thought of writing, combined with the collaborative thought of conversation. Perhaps new ideas can emerge from this conver-writing that would have been difficult or impossible to think through just conversation or writing alone.

It would be interesting to catalogue and categorize different actions of thought under this new model of metacognition. Writing, drawing, meditation, relaxation, conversation. How do different activities in daily life structure how we think?

By cataloguing how different actions structure my own thought process, I begin to see actions more as tools in the way that certain actions are better for exploring certain ideas than others. And looking at this blogging chain as a new composite thinking action of both writing and conversation, I wonder what other combinations could create new methods of thinking, alone or in groups.

Perhaps even some of the different blogging structures mentioned in previous blogchain-entries, blogging as a garden, mesh, labyrinth, fractals, perhaps each of these entails a slightly different thinking process for participants perhaps one structure could lead ideas in completely different directions than another. Just some food for thought...