Sunday, April 11, 2010

Why Blog?

The above graphic is from a February Pew Internet study on how young adult are eschewing blogging, while the 30+ crowd is picking up the pace. Overall, blogging has remained steady among all adults. Here's some demographic context from the study::
"Among adult internet users, blogging is equally common among men and women; whites, black and Hispanics; and those with low and high levels of income and education."
I'm not surprised that the young folks aren't "blogging", while the 30+ crowd is both blogging and tweeting. The young folks have Facebook and SMS/MMS to communicate with their small world networks. Blogging does the same except it typically opens up the social graph to the entire WWW. I'm not sure the blogging distinction being made here is all that useful. Of interest to me is why we do any of this. Blogging, tweeting, commenting, writing on walls, etc. I've been thinking about this question a lot these days. A few years back, Andrew Sullivan pondered this question with respect to blogging. This quote of his has stuck with me::
"And, as Matt Drudge told me when I sought advice from the master in 2001, the key to understanding a blog is to realize that it’s a broadcast, not a publication. If it stops moving, it dies. If it stops paddling, it sinks."
I find blogging to be liberating in terms of getting my thoughts out there. I must admit I gravitate towards blogs that have something to say and I don't mind the imperfections, but I'm the type of person who doesn't mind watching outtakes, listening to demo tapes, or seeing painters' sketches—I'm into process and ideas over the pleasure of reading the text. For me, blogging is not about getting reactions, validation, recognition, or getting paid. The posts are about communicating and connecting ideas. It's eclectic, so I'm not sure it's that amenable to creating an identifiable community of readers as a standalone blog.

After years of graduate school, I had to "unlearn" being a perfectionist, which isn't easy if one feels that their value is synonymous with how their work is received. While some may find it hard to believe, given it's been pointed out that there are plenty of errors on this blog, I am capable of doing my own editing—I just really despise doing it. The same goes for doing my own taxes. My blogs are warts and all and these blogs aren't meant necessarily to be polished or finished works. My blogging is often done in a spontaneous fashion and because of Blogger's allergies to the embed code of imeem, I've grown accustomed to not editing posts after I hit publish post. 

My blogging is writing in the rough, but I would argue that my blogging isn't writing that's a finished product, which is the liberatory aspect of the medium. "Why not spend the time to clean up the typos and formatting?" Meh. I think that would do violence to my process. It would turn blogging into a much more formal activity. Additionally, I often put a time limit on blog composition, which help me to manage my time and forces me to focus, but the product isn't always the best it could be. Some might say, "why do something, if you don't do it well?" I think that totally misses the point. The time spent on my posts is often in the links and the background research. The value, in my mind, is not the fantastic prose, but that the blog conveys ideas and serves as a repository.

While taking the time to edit may make for more effective communication of ideas—and I'm all for an editor that would catch anything obvious like a typo here or a phrase that got accidentally deleted there, I do like the idea of blogs being rough hewn. An overly polished blog, while perfect legitimate, is acting more like a publication, not broadcasting. It probably would help if I learned how to type, but, if I had done that, I probably wouldn't have had the insights for my social media app I'm developing.

In contrast, my spec screenwriting process is very different. That's a form of writing needs to be meticulous and tight. The objective is to win screenwriting contests and to sell it, so it's about impressing others that your story is good and commercially viable. There's no room for ponderous meanderings. Blogging helps my screenwriting by helping me avoid the pitfall of feeling that I need to write the perfect scene or constantly come up with clever lines of dialogue.

I finished this blog and I know it's a tad rough, as I was working out ideas. I decided to force myself to go through it and try to edit it before I hit PUBLISH POST. Well, I grew weary and it's the wee hours here in Toronto. So, rather than sit on it, I'll publish it and say, "good night."

Twitterversion:: Why blog? Young folks aren't taking to blogging, but does that mean anything? Thoughts on my blogging process—unedited. @Prof_K

Song:: China Crisis-'Black Man Ray'

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