Talking About Blogging

I figure the best way to end this little “Talking About…” communication series is to get really meta and write about blogging. It’s a form of communication I’ve been quite familiar with for the better part of the last two years, and it’s something I’ve always approached with a critical eye. In my first blog post back on July 1 2007 (“Welcome to my antiblog”), I laid out a series of “Dos and Don’ts” that would guide my blog from the start. I’ve listed them below, with evaluative comments about how I have or have not stayed true to them.

First, the DON’Ts:

1) No blog entry will detail events, persons, or problems from my personal life, unless used as literary devices or otherwise in service of some more substantial point. In fact, the use of the first-person pronoun in general should be used with discretion.

The first part of this has held true for my blog. I do not get too personal. The voice I use on the blog has been completely honest and I hope even vulnerable at times, but I purposefully have not delved too much into my personal life. As for the first-person pronoun avoidance, this was too much to ask. I started using “I” immediately and frequently in my blogging, and (as you can see), I haven’t stopped. 2) This will not be a “news” site that pointlessly reiterates stories as seen on CNN, TMZ, ESPN, or other such widely seen sites.

I have from time to time fallen prey to this sort of thing, but most of the time I try to offer a different take or a more critical perspective on the news stories currently capturing the public’s attention.

3) No crappy, late-night ramblings or sub-par filler writing. Only high quality and serious interrogations of issues, ideas, art, etc.

It hasn’t always been high quality, and I have definitely indulged in a few late-night ramblings on here, but for the most part I think the tone I have maintained has been one of “serious interrogations of issues, ideas, art…” At least that what I'm always aiming for.

And now, the DOs: 1) Link to the best stuff on the web (articles, mp3s, videos, etc) that might otherwise be lost in the ridiculous glut of information out there.

This is something I have not done very well. I’m not the greatest aggregator and should probably be better about linking to other good stuff beyond my own blog. 2) Write about (and link to other writing about) anything and everything, as long as it is done with an earnest curiosity and minimum of irony. The world needs more earnestness, I think. I have tried to minimize the irony on this blog, and I think I’ve been successful for the most part. But irony and earnestness are sometimes confused or misconstrued in online forms… so I’m sure there have been times when something I’ve written about in all earnestness has been taken ironically, and vice versa.

3) Provide more questions than answers. There’s a reason the blog’s called “The Search.” It’s always ongoing.

I hope this has been the case. I definitely don’t think of myself or what I’m writing about as being definitive or any sort of answer; rather I am just one among a chorus of voices who hopes to spark dialogue and discussion about important issues that we all think about and deal with.

So, now that I am nearly 2 years in to the blogging world, what are my thoughts? Well, here are a few in no particular order:

1) Blogging is first and foremost valuable to the blogger. Not only does it give you a platform to talk publicly about things you are passionate about, but it forces you to communicate in a lucid, readable, appealing manner. In short: it makes you a better writer and hopefully a better communicator.

2) Blogging has a dangerous lack of accountability. There are no editors, no filters, no advisors looking over your shoulder. But there are commenters. And that keeps you honest and forces you to be careful with what you say.

3) My blog voice is a strange mix of very personal and very impersonal speech. On one hand I am speaking to my community—my family and friends and faithful readers; on another hand I’m speaking to a vast, unknown Internet public who I have no connection to. It’s strange.

4) Blogging is a helpful incubator for ideas that I’m wrestling with.

5) Blogging makes it easy to micromanage my public identity, though it also forces me to be consistent and authentic. And finally, perhaps one of the most important lessons that I’ve learned:

6) Writing about things on a blog and sharing my thoughts with the world is fun, but it can’t compare with being around people in physical presence and just talking to them. Even the best blog can’t compete with that.