When is a blog a multilogue?

The term, multilogue (sometimes spelled, “multilog”), means “a conversation of many to many.” Recently, it has become associated with the kind of interactions that take place on social networking sites, discussion boards and wikis. Type “multilogue” in your favorite search engine, and you’ll find all kinds of websites pop up, many dealing with marketing communications, including the concept of “after the party” enticement of new customers. There is also a “multilogue” website that helps corporations with a large number of employees at multiple locations communicate with one another.  There is even an artist who calls his body of work “multilogue” as his work tries to “achieve a kind of non-linear communication.”

Quite honestly, I always thought my husband, the late John Ohliger, to whom this blog is dedicated, invented the multilogue, or maybe just the term, or at the very least perfected it.  However, in preparing to write my very first entry, I discovered this tidbit John had written in the February 1984 issue of Second Thoughts, a newsletter published by his nonprofit organization, Basic Choices.

Many-To-Many & Multilogue

The idea of people networking thru the exchange of duplicated letters thru a central point goes back in history at least as far as the Revolutionary War in the U.S. when “Committees of Correspondence” were formed… The Many-To-Many is associated with Robert Theobald’s, “Action Linkage” and “Communications Era Task Force…” (JO)

When David Yamada and I first talked about starting a blog with John’s work as a jumping off point, I remembered John participating in a pre-Internet multilogue around the writings of Ivan Illich.  He would write a thoughtful piece about the topic of discussion, mail it to the next person, who would write something of his or her own as well as respond to John’s musings and send it on to the next person, until it once again arrived in the mail at John’s home.  It was not unlike the round robin of letters that relatives used to send to one another to keep the whole family informed of births, weddings, deaths and daily life.

Could a blog morph into a multilogue? What would that look like?  Is it possible that it could retain its historic character: thoughtful, not urgent, receptive, not impervious, reflective, not off-the-cuff…

Let’s try it!

-Chris Wagner

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