My response to You Are Not A Blog

Steven Streight, aka Vaspers the Grate, is a talented and literate person who writes a consistently thought-provoking weblog.

Unfortunately, he seems to be of the mindset that the originators of the internet, blogging, whatever,  have some say over how blogging "should be done".  If you read my posts about yesterday’s experts, you can imagine my immediate response to his post "You are not a blog."

I left this response on his site, but in the event you might not fall across it, I am repeating it here:

Steven, you make three telling statements that beautifully illustrate the viewpoints of those who initiate paradigm shifts and are overwhelmed by the newcomers who take their precious artifacts and use them for purposes that the designers never considered.

These were your statements:

In the beginning, the blog was impersonal, cold, dry, unemotional. And this was good.

To be successful, a blog has to stick pretty closely with the original purpose.

It’s very sad and strange to see a research tool (the blog) deteriorate into a self-disclosure confessional platform.

My response is simple. A blog is a platform for citizen publishing, it is no longer a notepad for some dry list of useful links. Get over the idea that you or any of the fine people who contributed to the internet and blogging have any control over what people are creating with the tool you may have contributed to.

The fact that millions of people practice unmoderated psychotherapy on one another is no real concern of yours. They are probably doing less harm to themselves than if they were  downing the addictive anti-depressants that are so freely prescribed everyday.

Blogging is an art form, a profession, and is begining to be a vehicle for a new wave of creativity that will blow us away.

I’ve taken the time to sample some LiveJournal stuff and there is a power in those barely readable posts which which bears watching.

When a 14 year-old writes a post about her politically compromised teacher and the blogging world responds with telling effect, we are not looking at illiterate scribblers. Sure, they suffer from the ill effects of a degenerate educational system, but they are communicating in a way that never existed before and they will overcome their lack of grammar and spelling to become powerful new voices in the blogosphere.

Blogging is a paradigm shift of enormous proportions. We agree upon that. To hope that it sticks close to its research lab roots is the final fantasy. The communication tsunami has been unleashed. People are talking to new friends all around the planet about things we can’t even conceive.

Don’t go the way of MSM and Ozymandias. Don’t try to stop or channel this new torrent. Grab your blog and paddle fiercely to catch the next wave.

The future is being blogged as you read this..a billion voices will write tomorrow’s history instead of the well-connected few of the past.

Embrace the future. Don’t become yesterday’s expert.

For an entirely different viewpoint, one that I embrace wholeheartedly, see this excerpt from Rebecca Blood:

I strongly believe in the power of weblogs to transform both writers
and readers from "audience" to "public" and from "consumer" to
"creator." Weblogs are no panacea for the crippling effects of a
media-saturated culture, but I believe they are one antidote.

[Rebecca’s Pocket, "Weblogs: a History and Perspective", 7 September 2000]

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0 Responses to My response to You Are Not A Blog

  1. Carrie says:

    Good post. 🙂

    It reminds me of the recent flurry about Jeremy http://www.ensight.org/archives/2005/03/17/the-end-of-the-story/
    being rejected entry into the USA – strip searched and held for questioning even – because he stated his occupation as “blogger”.

    Whatever the inventors of blogging intended it to be, it has and continues to grow far beyond anything anyone could have predicted.

  2. Maybe the ‘old line’ bloggers are right… We could roll back the printing press to only print bibles… Ahh for the good old days!

  3. fletch says:

    Excellent post. Now if we could just do away with digital cameras.

  4. Michele says:

    Good post! As someone recently drawn to blogging, I appreciate the free form and lack of structure. The audience finds you. If they find you and stay, great! If the don’t stay hopefully others do!

    I like your style.

  5. maria says:

    Hallelujah, Brother! Well said.

    It’s a little like being a parent, really (… she says, the mother of an 18-year-old) … at some point, you have to let go of your own ideas and hopes about what your child could or should be, and let them go on to become their own person. They just might turn out even better than you imagined.

  6. Tom McMahon says:

    Testify, Brother David!

    My 80-year-old parents print out my blog entries, get out the magnifiers and read the whole thing at the kitchen table. It’s like they get a letter from me every day. Another unforeseen use of blogs.

  7. Amen, Brothers and Sisters!

    Thanks for your comments.

    See next post for the continuing story.

  8. Not to diminish the Hallelujah chorus, or the Amen corner, by even one jot or tittle, but my point was that personal blogs that ramble on narcissistically, relentlessly bloating the blogosphere with trivial, mundane details, may appeal to mom or grandma, but they seem futile to me.

    Self-obsessed random musings never have worked in any medium.

    Only, perhaps in teenage telephone or chat room conversations, but even then, the other users will tire of it quickly. If you have nothing important to say, your audience will notice and may be annoyed.

    A lady who attacked my “You Are Not A Blog” gradually saw what I meant when a freind visited her and her boyfriend. The visitor rambled on breathlessly about his this and his that, then departed, never once inquiring about her boyfriend’s new book or published articles. They decided to not invite that person over very often from now on.

    Personal details in a blog can make a business blog seem unprofessional, less pragmatic, lower in value for information.

    Personal blogging that blurts out identifiable details of children, family, local hangouts, employers, co-workers, etc. can prove dangerous. There are stories of child predators, stalkers, con artists, identity theft criminals, plus irate employers and co-workers.

    Don’t rush into vast amounts of self-revelation in either personal or business blogs, if you want to be wise and safe.

    See my post on “Dangers of Personal Blogging” for substantiating information which may enlighten.

    There is a way to incorporate personal details in private or business blogs. But you need to discover the best practices and the potential pitfalls.

  9. Steven’s comment illustrates beautifully that there are still people who are not content to blog, but feel compelled to tell others how they should blog.

    If you are looking to follow an authority in the blogging field, it appears that Steven is volunteering for the role.

    On the other hand, if you wish to spread your wings as a blogger, read Rebecca Blood’s The Weblog Handbook and you should have all of the basic information you need.

  10. Owen says:

    David – I think you are absolutely right here. And Steven needs to relax a little and realise that absolute, concrete Darwinism will take care of hiw worries. The blogs about personal minutia will be read by the very few people who care about that person’s personal minutia. The blogs that clarify complex and common problems will grow to be read by many, many people. The blogs (like mine say) that fall somewhere in between and carry relevant and useful information of interest to a more specialised audience will get a more specialised audience.

    As an example of how blogs make us all real publishers, I started my blog as a purely personal endeavour to write down food I was cooking since I don’t use recipes and my family got tired of never being able to get me to repeat a success. So I started writing down the successes. Then I found other food blogs. Then I realised that the best food blogs were not just better than the food magazines and books Iread, but a LOT better. And then I had the idea for my book – just to bring the whole idea full circle…www.pressforchange.com if you want to check it out.

    I no longer read the newspaper. I no longer watch TV (not that I did much of that anyway – but the newspaper is a big change). Because I get my news in about 15 seconds from my favored news sources and then I get a much longer and larger dose of editorial and opinion from a wider-ranging, freer-thinking, and often better-written set of sites than are in ANY newspaper.

  11. You don’t care about the dangers of identity theft, child predators, abductions, etc.?

    There are stories of personal and family details in blogs being the cause of these horrors.

    Sleep away if you want. Some will snap out of it and use caution.

  12. Ooohhh! Scary! Yawnnnn…

    Common sense tells us that we should not put anything in a blog that we don’t want our worst enemy to make use of. First of all, don’t go around making enemies, it’s not a good practice. Secondly, blog records are essentially permanent. What you write will come back to haunt you for years and years.

    Once again, a well meaning person seeks to tell us that it’s scary out there in the blogosphere.

    Life is scary, goddammit! Every time our children go off to school, they are potentially exposed to predators. Every time we answer our door, we are potentially exposed to predators.

    Hiding in the closet is not a solution! Life is best handled by being prepared and taking necessary precautions while getting the show on the road.

    Taking ANY public position exposes one to risk. Becoming well-known in any area exposes us to people who are not as “well-mannered” as we are. That is the price of becoming even a minor celebrity.

    Try running a business as an anonymous figure. Lots of luck.

    Bloggers who keep their real identities secret may gather a following, but they are limited by their anonymity to blogging. They cannot write books or make public appearances, or interact meaningfully with the real world.

    We can decide to face life and overcome the challenges or we can decide to play it safe. That is a decision that we all have to make. I have made mine.

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