Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Had I But World Enough, and Time,
This Blogging, Lady, Were No Crime

One thing I've discovered about blogging is that, to be done effectively you have to do it often. If you don't post frequently, you aren't really serious about being a blogger. One problem is that posting takes time and something original to say, both of which I have little.

This doesn't seem to be a problem for other bloggers, like my friend Lance Strate over at his eponymous Lance Strate's Blog Time Passing, where he seems to be able to post something new and interesting almost daily. I can only assume that he has abandoned his other responsibilities and devoted himself almost entirely to his blog. (It's an addiction Lance. You can get help!)

Another problem is that my hit rate is low and I am reluctant to post anything new until I'm reasonably certain that the current post has been given sufficient play. Of course, I fudge on this a little, since my hit rate is so low that a single post would be sufficient for the entire year. I assume that if more people were reading my posts, I would find more time to write posts and more topics to post about. And, if more people then linked to, and purchased from, my Amazon link, I'm sure my productivity would be Dickensian.

A third problem is that I’m not quite sure what my purpose is in blogging. There are as many types of blogs out there as there are bloggers, but what type of blogger am I? What is my personal reason for sharing my writings via the Internet? Let's look at some metaphors for blogging.

Is it a "public dairy," where I record my experiences on a daily basis? Frequent readers of this blog (hi Mom!) have probably noticed that I've posted little information about my personal life or experiences. There are many blogs, that are of a more personal nature, like St. George's University medical student Ishie's A Caribbean M.D. is Good Enough For Me!, which she uses as a way to maintain contact with her family and friends back home. Though open to the world, this blog is really meant to be read by her circle of friends and family. My purpose isn't to make public my personal life, although I have played with the idea of a separate, private blog to share with my posse. Again, its a world and time problem.

Is it a personal “Op Ed” page? Paul Levinson’s blog and yes, Lance’s site, are examples of this, at least among those with a Media Ecology slant. I don’t know if my type of writing is Op Editable as I can’t imagine it ever appearing opposite the editorials of the New York Times or the Washington Post. I don’t speak from the authority granted by public or private service, or from personal expertise on a given topic. At best, I see my posts as comparable to the lighter, non-serious columnists like Dave Barry or Maureen Dowd. (Yes that was a slam.)

Is it a “digital press” where I post news reporting and commentary? Good examples of this is Glenn Greenwald's Unclaimed Territory, now hosted at Salon, or Josh Micah Marshall's Talking Points Memo on the left side of the political spectrum, or Matt Drudge's Drudge Report on the right. There is no doubt that these blogs now act as a counterpoint to and critique of the reporting of the main stream media, and that they now have a place in the political process of our country. My blog is not necessarily concerned with public affairs, although I do, from time to time comment on current events. This is just a bad habit I picked up in elementary school that I haven't been able to outgrow.

Is it “show and tell?” Maybe my metaphor for blogging is also a result of my early school days. Maybe this is one elaborate "show and tell" where I find something that interests me to bring in as frequently as I can. The key phrase here is "that interests me."

One of the things I like about blogging is that there are no filters, no gatekeepers and no censors. I post whatever I like, grammatical warts and all. I have to admit that one of my purposes in starting a blog was to get “out there” some of the things I’ve thought and written about. Then I go back and read what I've written to see what it is I've been thinking about. If it’s especially good, I might read it more than once. There is even the possibility of recycling older posts for further review and reflection. (What, you’ve never heard of reruns or sequels?) I am my own publisher, editor and reading public. What a rush!

I’d like to think that the thoughts expressed in this post are unique and original to blogging, but I’ve just discovered that there is an entire genre of self-reflexive blogs that have already been here, done this.

Oh well. I’d better quit now before I get hooked!


Almansi said...


I'm a lurker on the Media Ecology Association mailing-list and I got to your blog through your message on Bill Moyers' "Buying the War".

The funny thing is that your message on the list elicited 31 answers so far and is still going strong, yet no one added a comment to your blog post which you copied in your e-mail.

As if, for academics, it were OK to discuss in a closed mailing-list, or to post declaratively in a blog, but not to interact publicly in the comments of a blog :-)

Anyrate, I came here with the idea to thank you for the Bill Moyers post AND e-mail, but then I saw this post and chose to answer it rather - and thanks for drawing attention to the Moyers' broadcast.


Claude Almansi

PS Actually, PBS itself posted about the Moyers broadcast on YouTube on March 30th already - see youtube.com/watch?v=_5Kngf803dQ - which seems to indicate that PBS folks don't have hang ups about joints for the hoi polloi...

Anonymous said...

My best tip? Mr. Strate thinks blogs may be feminine, so perhaps I've got that advantage over you relative to tip-giving ; just write write write whatever comes in to your head. You sound like an academic, so you'll understand: the more you practice the better you'll get. Then, it's my bet, you should get something different than anyone else! Play schmlay. You either think you have something to say - believe in yourself - or you don't. It's like being in a store/market.. a consumer doesn't want to keep going back if it's the same product on the shelf everytime you go.. different products, different price points. Or you could specialize in housewares - if that's your thing. Go man go.