Why do you blog? Norm Geras’ interviews are now at the hundred mark. If you read the answers just to this one question, you’ll not find much variety in the reasons. Nor should there be.
|“Oh, OK, the real reason is sheer vanity.”|
|“It allows me to spout off on all manner of things which interest me. Plus: fame, fortune and the adoration of women.”|
|“I blog because, basically, I am a big-mouth, and I needed to create a public platform where I could shout about things which matter to me. Also, the writing impulse had to be satisfied.”|
|“I blog because it's fun. I enjoy the immediacy of it and the possibility of feedback.”|
|“Emily Dickinson once began a poem: 'This is my letter to the world,/ That never wrote to me —”|
Rick Moran at Rightwing Nuthouse thinks of it this way:
|1.||It is the nature of the medium to enslave us, bind us and with “tortuous regularity” demand that we follow a particular path.|
|2.||The nature of the medium is content. Whatever the goal you have as a blogger — and his was to write essays — you must nonetheless put the nickels in the meter in order to keep playing. As he puts it, “I’ve been forced to alter the formula [essays] and simply link to other good blog posts with scant commentary on what someone else has written.” Rick takes himself to task for this, seeing it as “laziness or lack of inspiration.”|
Rick says that his motivations for blogging were two: to “reacquaint” himself with his writing skills from years before, and to use his blog as a stepping stone to making a living as a writer. Those are usual goals for ambitious, energetic people. And many other bloggers would express the same sentiments. However, as he says, the former — building one’s skills as a writer — begins to take second place to building one’s position in the ecosystem of the blogosphere. This requires increasing readership, linking, and, as he notes again, choosing the content of one’s blog.
|Ultimately, readers will praise me or condemn me not for the reason I write but for what I write — content. And here’s where the future comes into play in a big way.|
|How are we going to be receiving content 5 years from now? Ten years? I say “receiving” content because at the moment, we are slaves to others for access to that vital commodity. Will there come a day when content will not be “received” as much as it just simply is? In other words, if we’re not slaves to gatekeepers for the distribution of information, will there come a time when the “message is the medium?”|
Jarvis and Moran agree: the old ways, the old economy are difficult paradigms to break: Quoting Jarvis:
|in this new age, you don’t want to own the content or the pipe that delivers it. You want to participate in what people want to do on their own. You don’t want to extract value. You want to add value. You don’t want to build walls or fences or gardens to keep people from doing what they want to do without you. You want to enable them to do it. You want to join in.|
Here’s Jarvis’ recommendations:
Forget owning the content. Assist in its distribution and its re-creation as people make choices about which parts of that content they want to save:
|1.||In these new economics, you want to stand back and interfere and restrict as little as possible.|
|2.||You want to reduce costs to the minimum.|
|3.||You want to join in wherever you are welcome.|
|But let me whine for a moment; I’m not a journalist. I don’t pretend to be one nor do have any desire to imitate one. Will there be room for a 51 year old opinionated fat man who sees himself in a silly, heroic sort of way as a polemicist, a rabble rouser, someone who 200 years ago would have been posting broadsides on buildings facing the town square? Where does that leave me? How do I participate in this brave new world if I don’t want to climb on board this new media bandwagon?|
|More questions; what innovations will there be in hardware and software that will affect this new medium? How about changes in the internet itself? Access to it? The portability of it?|
|These questions go to the root of my problem; how should I approach the future?As Mr. Beecher (whose daughter Harriet was to write the play Uncle Tom’s Cabin) points out, one can either be anxious about the future or have faith in it. At the moment, I’m extraordinarily anxious. I suppose that’s natural for anyone my age whose basic supposition about the way things are is undergoing a radical transformation. I’d like to have faith in the future but wishing won’t make it so. I think the best any of us can do is keep an ear to the ground, watch for trends, and even try to anticipate change wherever possible. Easier said than done. I suppose in the end, having faith in the future means having faith in oneself. [emphasis added]|
I believe that the blogosphere is continuing to grow because it meets a need. The need existed before the blogosphere; the ’sphere did not create it. I believe it will change in ways we cannot anticipate, the same way we have been changed by life’s experiences in ways we could not see before those events transpired.
Meanwhile, blog on, my esteemed friend whom I have never met. The future will come to meet you, prepared or not. And I mean that both ways: the future is no more prepared for us than we are for it…
Next time: Who I read and why.