The importance of the ephemeral

I was given a new digital radio for Christmas, and now have radios installed in every room of my flat, meaning I can listen to my beloved Radio 4 wherever I am. This morning I was interested to hear John Lichfield, the Independent newspaper’s France correspondent, talking about France. Well, of course he was actually talking about his new book, a compilation of his essays on all things French.

He explained that while as a correspondent he wrote mainly about the major political stories of the day, he also wrote observational pieces and reports of trivial things that happened in his everyday life in Paris. These more ephemeral pieces often produced bigger postbags as they chimed with readers. He pointed out that no-one now is interested in (or remembers) the beef war of the 1990s and all the petty politicking from year to year, but “what happened to me in the baker the other day” can carry universal truth and experience and endure for years. Thus, the ephemeral is longer-lived than the important news stories of the day.

It struck me that tins is very true in blogging too. Sometimes I wish I could chase news stories and blog about them in real time, but I can’t devote the time that would require. A more personal approach, sometimes taking the long (or sideways) view, works better for me.

I think this is perhaps a feature of several bloggers here at Occam’s Typewriter. We celebrate the really important ephemeral tales of life, scientific and otherwise, rather than focusing on the here today, gone tomorrow, big splash news stories

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

About Frank Norman

I am a librarian in a biomedical research institute. I've been around a few years, long enough to know that exciting new things fall into the same familiar patterns. I'm interested in navigating a path for libraries as we move further from print to electronic resources to open research, and become more embedded in research workflows.
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8 Responses to The importance of the ephemeral

  1. Stephen says:

    Hear, hear – much of our supposedly ‘newsworthy’ discourse is pretty light-weight. Let’s look for meaning where we can!

  2. Bob O'H says:

    Isn’t this also why From Our Own Correspondent works so well too? Even the more newsy pieces on it are about the ephemera surrounding the news.

    • Frank says:

      Bob – yes I love FOOC too, but don’t seem to catch it so often these days. Something else on R4 this morning (talking about The Archers): the success of a soap is in holding up a mirror to our lives and issues. The focus is on life and how it is lived; the events and way people with them.

      • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

        I love the FOOC podcast. I thought from the first time I heard it that it’s like an audio blog.

  3. steffi suhr says:

    I like it. Definitely true for me as well – quite frequently I almost plan on writing about some current affair, only to find that I sit on it for too long (too long being something like two days most of the time). But funnily, if you wait long enough, the important things keep coming up in one way or another, and then it’s possible to look at them from a different, longer-term perspective…

  4. ricardipus says:

    Rings true for me, Frank (and Steffi). I’m so chronically behind the times, and so lazy about digging deeper into the news, that any attempt at topical blogging from me would be a total waste of time. Mine, and the reader’s. 😉

  5. cromercrox says:

    I shouldn’t be at all surprised had Oscar Wilde not committed some witty apothegm about the importance of the trival, and the triviality of the important.