søndag, marts 05, 2006

The mystery of blogging, for me

The internet vs. procrastination. Is it really a contest, this one? The internet is an addiction, and the time I spend surfing is often time that I could be spending doing something more fun, or more useful, or more meaningful, or more something else which is better for me. Except when it isn't a waste of time. The mystic power of the net has also enabled me to keep to one thing which I have never successfully been able to do consistently before off-line. Writing.

Specifically, I've always kept diaries or journals, ever since I can remember. Ever since I knew what a diary was. Or rather, I have always started them, kept them for a few days, maybe a week or so, and then given them up. I have the remains of a lot of them somewhere. The first few pages torn from a variety of different notebooks, of different shapes, sizes, colors. The longest stretches are from times when I've travelled alone...not having a steady conversation companion, my journal becomes that companion. But I've never been able to keep it going. When I started this blog, I predicted that it would last about a month, or less, and then I'd just never get around to posting anything else, and that would be that. However, that doesn't seem to be happening. When there's a gap (like in December/January due to school commitments), I look forward to getting back into it, and then I do. And I can't quite figure out why. But I have theories, of course:

1) Having readers. This is the obvious reason. I can remember the thrill of my first comment. And especially the thrill of my first comment from someone I'd never met. And I like the idea of having 'regulars' (and of course it's nice to be a regular for others as well). But, it's double-edged. Once I started getting comments, I went through a phase where I would get a bit down if I didn't get any comments. It was like the 8th grade all over again, and wanting to be one of the popular people. And I don't feel that is enough by itself to keep me coming back for more.

2) Having an audience. This is not the same as having readers. Generally, the key unifying feature of all non-academic writing I've done is that no one ever reads it. Here, it's public, which of course changes everything. Although I don't think about it too overtly, I do assume that anyone can and does read what I write in my blog. Both my parents read it (Hi Mom! Hi Dad!). My brother reads it (Hi Bro!). Some very good friends read it. I don't think my bosses read it, but they could do. I don't think any of my students, former or current, read it, but they could do. This steers my thinking quite a bit. Though I'm still clearly me in these posts, I'm me the writer, rather than me the diary keeper. Or diary not-keeper, to be more precise. Just as well really, as me the diary keeper has never written long enough to really develop much of a style.

3) Being part of a community. After a while, circles are clearly formed, and some visitors become virtual friends. At this stage in my life, when none of my closest friends are anywhere near me geographically, maybe I have more of a need for this. But I don't think so. One thing that I didn't expect, but should have, is that I am just as bad at corresponding off-blog with people I know through blogging as I am at corresponding in general...those old friends who are reading this now, you're doing it because it's the only way to hear about what I'm doing, isn't it? This is of course a rhetorical question.

4) Being on the internet. As Thor said to me just now, 'you're addicted. If you could clean the house on the internet, you'd do it'. He does have a definite point, but there must be more to it than that (I hope).

5) Presentation. I didn't know anything about HTML when I set up the blog, and know very little about it now, but have had great fun playing with my template. When I feel the blog is too ugly (like now, for instance), I can find ways to change it. The image needs content, and the content needs image. Maybe it's the whole package which attracts me and holds my interest.

The overall results of my theorizing are inconclusive, which is perhaps the way it should be. Blogging is a mystery, but if it keeps me writing, then I'm not complaining.

29 kommentarer:

Maddy sagde ...

Oh-oh - this will be a long
comment -
I started blogging (my friend
Dreena got me going)
as a test for a photography blog
for my business - then I got
attached to my blog - I loved
the writing - and then the comments
and then my new bloggy-buddies
(you!!!!!!!!!!)
only I used my real name so I am
very careful of revealing my
life -
and it has been an addiction -
the self-journaling that is public-
and you are correct - my little
community...
hmmm- clean the house while
on-line - wow.

cool idea Thor.

HanktheDog sagde ...

That's a fine analysis of why many people, not just you, blog. There's also the coolness factor. It's just neat to be able to comment on the blogs of people you like to read. If only James Joyce had a blog, or John Donne.

Connie and Rob sagde ...

Great post.

I never thought I would ever get into blogging. One day my husband suggested it to me and I have never been the same. At first just creating the post was fun for me but now I love talking to people. I really care about my regulars and enjoy learning from other people.

Connie

Morningdew sagde ...

I started blogging because of someone I met on the internet. He set up my very first Blogger account, gave me space on his site so my first blog actually had a .com/xxx address instead of blogspot. I later met and eventually fell in love with this guy and you know what? I still do, up to this very day.

But I can relate to everything you've written. The addiction is so bad, that I can't ever get away from it. Great post, Kim!

Devil Mood sagde ...

What a lovely post :)
I've written journals throughout my life too, until a few years ago, when I stopped for whatever reason. My trouble wasn't keeping them going but actually being able to let go of the habit of writting.
Blogging is different for me because of that "public" factor. Even when I started the blog I never wrote everything that I intended to because I knew somehow people that knew me could get a hold of it. I still keep my blog a secret from most people around me, otherwise I wouldn't write anything at all. I don't know, I'm just a secretive person, I guess, (not that I'm happy with that).
Right now blogging makes me happy especially by that sense of community and the people you get to know. Getting comments is amazing but I'm afraid I'll get too attached to it.

kimananda sagde ...

Hi, Madelyn, so is your photgraphy blog a separate entity? And, if so, can we see it, too? And, I would love to clean the house from on-line. The joke in that is that I don't ever clean the house, much.

Hank, thanks! And it is cool to comment on cool blogs, and cool dlogs! :-)

Connie, your husband had a great idea, as your blog is really fun to read. By the way, does he ever post anything? It could be interesting to hear his point of view, too.

Dew, I'm so glad you have your blog, so that I can gaze upon it with envy...in fact I'm worried that when I move my blog to it's own domain (which will happen any time now), that I'll end up with a design copy of it...it's just the right blend of space, and text, and images.

Ms. Mood, it's really interesting that so many people I read don't tell the people around them about their blog. I'm the total opposite. I feel like I'm always trying to get the people around me to read mine, but they're never interested. It's only those who don't hear from me regularly who read it to keep up. So, maybe it's just all about exhibitionism! ;-)

portuguesa nova sagde ...

Well said.

Slightly beside the point, but it is still crazy to me that people were forced to spend entire days at a desk in an office without internet. What the hell did they do all day? Work?

When I think about it like this, having internet at the office is kind of like having a television at your desk (with the sound down low that you turn off really quickly whenever your boss comes by).

Maddy sagde ...

Hi Kimananda - I am not very
clean obsessive either -
I am quite minimalist - if only
for the reason that I like
"space to breathe" however -

but my life has a zillion things
far more inspiring and compelling
than chasing around after every
little disarray...!

like blogging...

al-Ferengi sagde ...

You need a Livejournal (over a million potential readers) and then you need to aggregare this community journal:
http://community.livejournal.com/blog_sociology

:)

Devil Mood sagde ...

Maybe if people around me knew about my blog they wouldn't make a fuss about it either. Anyway, I wouldn't like to risk losing this bit of privacy I have in the secret blog :)

Maddy sagde ...

I'm BACK again!

i mentioned this on another blog-
the idea that blogging gives
us the feeling that there is
a "witness" to our life -
to our "true" selves - if - we are
indeed writing the truth...

in true life - we could hide so
much to be kind, and generous,
and live up to all who depend on us...

Etchen sagde ...

Well for whatever reason you do it, I'm glad you blog!

Morose sagde ...

I started blogging on a personal page, morose.org, long before i was ever on blogger. it was mostly just a way to show all my stories to my friends by sending them links. Then i moved to blogger, then I started chibithulhu's blog and abandoned writing anything about myself because i didn't think i was worth writing about, then i started my Hapless Photographer blog as a blend of chibithulhu's-crazed-photographer ravings, bits of stories i'm working on, and the odd bit of personal stuff (not that anything personal ever happens to me, mind).

I like blogging on a blog-site like blogger because of the attention. I like the comments, knowing that people read what I write. I had over four hundred visitors to Chibithulhu over the past weekend alone because Warren Ellis linked to something i made. i melted at the atttention. comments are more fun, though.

True Blue Guy sagde ...

lovely post

for me its the thrill of being able to visit other places/cities/cultures right from the eyes of beautiful people like you.

Not journlaists or a website trying to sell a holiday but a real person who lives in a different place. In a real world.

I may never be able to visit these places in person and you and all my other blogger friends give me this.

For my blogfriends from back home, when I am not home I feel like I have lost that connection and I am desperately trying to hold on using their thoughts

cheers

Chibithulhu sagde ...

Chibithulhu blogs because sometimes he runs out of tissues to cry into and booze to drink, so he settles for tormenting the internets as he would torment all mankind if he could break free from his small, fuzzy prison.

kimananda sagde ...

Senhora Nova, I so totally agree. Actually, I don't have internet at work, so it's a good thing I'm busy teaching, or I'd have to bring a book or something! ;-)

Hi Madelyn! I agree...though when the house is clean to Thor's specs (he's much more into it than I), it is very, very nice. So it's good that I don't have to worry about it!

Ms. Black Scorpio, that looks cool. Though I suspect that one blog is enough for the time being. See you tomorrow!

Ms. Mood, I think it's important to set the privacy limits for something as inherently public as a blog. I think that the majority (of the ones I know, at least) choose more privacy over less. As do I, I suppose, by not using my real name (though I would imagine it would be an easy name to guess to those who know me).

Madelyn, welcome back! I think these thoughts are very deep. Sometimes it can be validating to be seen and heard.

Etchen, thank you! :-) I feel the same way about your blog. I enjoy reading it.

Morose, congratulations on the Warren Ellis link. And, I do think you have stuff to say about you. And I don't believe that nothing personal happens to you, but I'll have to take your word on it. ;-)

Blue, you are very, very right. That's exactly what I get from reading so many different blogging voices. Maybe I just keep writing so that I have something to contribute to the on-going dialog.

Chibi, I would make some remark about how it's not the size or fuzziness of the package but the quality of the evil, but I wouldn't taunt you in this way. Oh, wait...I just did. Sorry. :-(

Jack P Toerson sagde ...

I think this is a very good post. The reasons for blogging are complex and it reflects that.

Helen sagde ...

I'm definitly with you on being excited when I get comments! Helen

kimananda sagde ...

Jack, thanks! :-)

Helen, that gives me a wonderful idea...I'll be at your site soon....

Simple American sagde ...

What a great post!

All of this applies to me. I could almost cut and paste it on to my blog and it would hold true. haha
hmmmm...

Thanks for the Birthday wishes too.

Daphnewood sagde ...

that was very well thought out, Kim. I had never analyzed why I continue to blog but I think it is very similar to your reasons. I do know that without being in grad school, I need to write something even if it is just an online diary.

Also, I come back to see what you and my regular blogroll people are up to. It is odd how I can grow so attached to people I have never met personally. I find it to be a very intersting aspect of humanity. oooh...sensing some thesis possibilities :)

I have been blogging one year now and never imagined it would last this long. I don't tell my extended family about my blog because I want to be able to gripe about them if need be.

Has your snow melted completely now?

True Blue Guy sagde ...

Oh trust me you do have a LOT to contribute

cheers

kimananda sagde ...

Mr American, thanks! :-) You know they say that plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery. ;-)

Daphnewood, that is an interesting thesis possibility; you are absolutely right. I suspect I'll be doing my thesis on a blog-related issue as well, though of course one in the field of info. science, as that's what I'm studying. The project for my current class should be about the conceptual base for user-based tagging, and I'd like to look at a blog set, or something similar, for my data set. And I envy that you have a need to write. I have a definite want to write, and find it incredibly fulfilling, which may be enough to define a need, but I don't think it does define a need in my case.

Blue, thank you! :-)

Nick Zegarac sagde ...

My thoughts exactly. Keep reading, keep commenting, keep writing. A triple positive and a great way to spend the afternoon - reaching out to people you'd otherwise never meet from the insular relative safety of your desk chair and monitor.

Sangroncito sagde ...

Excellent post that conveys many of the reasons I blog, too.

And the pressure of the "comments" does become oppressive sometimes, doesn't it? Sometimes I'm tempted to turn comments to "off" (but I won't, of course).

And someday I hope to see you in Brazil and then we won't be "virtual" friends anymore!

Vanessa sagde ...

I'm the same way - in the past I've only kept journals for a couple of months at best and if it did go longer than that there were 6 month gaps in between entries.
I think the consistency is due to having readers who check back on a semiregular basis - I've had my blog going for almost a year now and I know for certain that I've never maintained a journal for that long in my entire life

Chloe sagde ...

i used to have a greek blog and then found a blogfriend and translated everything into english so that he could read my blog too. we are not friends anymore but i am forever grateful to him because that was the beginning to a wonderful blogger career!
And i am always thrilled when i find a new terrific blog or when i am found by someone else.

marybishop sagde ...

Blogging has an element of danger in it. It is so seductive - I have to tear myself away from my computer to do the things that once, took up my whole day.

I am definitely not accomplishing as much as I did in my preBlog days. I'm not sure how to find the balance between my blogging and nonBlogging hours. Dilemma...

kimananda sagde ...

Nick, yep, a triple positive. I like that idea.

Sangroncito, I'm sure we'll meet, in SF if not in Brazil. And until then, we'll make do with nice comments on each other's blogs! :-)

Vanessa, I also think that as people do check back regularly, it would be nice for them to have something new to read...but that thought doesn't normally get me to post if I wasn't planning to already!

Chloe, I'm glad you started your English blog. How would I have found you otherwise? :-)

Mary, I'm not sure about the danger, but it is seductive. Interestingly, or sadly, I feel I get about the same amount done with blogging included, or more, as my pre-blogging procrastination wasn't productive at all, whereas I do feel I'm accomplishing something worthwhile by blogging. I hope, anyway!