Saturday, December 5, 2009

Why Do You Blog?

The holiday season is upon us, and as a consequence my blog posts are becoming fewer and farther between. I just noticed my last post was over a week ago. But that isn't because I see my blog posts as an unpleasant duty I force myself to perform regularly. I miss my blogging time, which got me to thinking about why we––because I know most of my readers are also bloggers––blog.

Once an acronym becomes familiar we often forget its origins, but blog is short for "web log." Remember that term? And the first ones were more like public diaries. Some people still use blogs to stay in touch, posting pics of junior's first little league game and limiting access to friends and family––or not, which I find a little odd, but whatever. Others blog for professional reasons. We writers are encouraged to promote ourselves online with blogs and websites (and now Tweets, ugh). Three years ago when I suggested The Rose & Thorn start a blog, it was a relatively new idea for literary journals to maintain blog counterparts. Now it is de rigueur both for print and online publications, though you can easily tell when an editor has been dragged into it kicking and screaming.

Some blogs are roll calls. That is, the blogger spends the day looking for articles of interest, usually within some theme like politics or books, posts a link on his/her blog, and sometimes a comment as to why the post seems important. Other blogs are eclectic––today a recipe, tomorrow a joke, the next day a bit of interesting news––pulled together by a certain entertainment factor.

There are loads of political blogs, both by professional politicos and know-nothings who think they know something. Then there are the random opinion blogs, which probably make up the majority, with no particular theme, and a lot––an awful lot––of ranting.

When I began blogging I made myself some promises. One is that I would only blog about themes in which I had a certain expertise. This blog is devoted to writing/editing/publishing––particularly online––based on my 10 years of working with online publications. I follow politics and know a bit about it, but the only political issue I have blogged about is healthcare reform, because before writing/editing, I spent nearly 15 years working in the benefits field, much of which was focused on healthcare cost containment. I will also often add some historical background to my posts because I have a degree in History and I think historical context is lacking in many of our current political discussions.

Another promise I made myself is that I would always attempt to make my arguments logical and cogent, and that I would support my case with as many facts as possible. This has often made a short couple hundred word post that should have taken, at most, and hour, into an all-day affair. I also try never to take another person's words out of context. If I have a certain interpretation of someone's words I will link to the entire article so the reader can decide if my interpretation matches theirs. The ability to do so is one of the wonders of the Internet, and I find it extremely irritating that most bloggers prefer to link to the article about the article about the one line in someone's speech that got everyone fired up.

That brings me to why I blog. I find that writing about something helps me put my thoughts in order. It disciplines me to use logic, and in researching the facts I often learn something new. I don't blog for hits. Now and again I'll check Google Analytics to see what posts have garnered the most interest or who has linked to my blog, mainly so I can return the favor. If only five or ten people visit my blog per month, I may want to reconsider whether I'm providing anything of value, but I don't need thousands of readers. A few hundred readers who seem to find it interesting is good enough for me.

So that's why I blog. Why do you blog? Let us know.

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