A "good enough" mom muses about alpha moms, adoption, computers, the State Of The World, Internet quirkiness, and the Kosmik All
Scribbling is as scribbling does
Kent Newsome reports on a "CyberSalon" held in Berkeley, California this Sunday. The invitation to this salon read thus: "Bloggers and podcasters are suspicious of 'elitist' big media and view the 'democratizing' force of digital technology positively. In contrast, many traditional journalists regard most blogs, wikis and podcasts as amateurish and narcissistic. We wonder if expertise is, by definition, elitist. And we ask if expertise and elitism might indeed be necessary features of a high-quality media." One of the gems that was tossed out at this gathering were these words from a guy named Andrew Keen, a "a veteran Silicon Valley entrepreneur and digital media critic": "What is the value of sharing your experiences? I grow weary of your scribblings." What arrogance. At the very heart of the argument lies the question: "what is the purpose of a blog?" Most bloggers out there aren't interested in making a career out of their blogs. This would be a Good Thing, as The Blog Herald claimed last May that the number of blogs had exceeded 50 million. There's no way on God's Green Earth that that many people can make a living blogging. I would wager that, for most, a blog is simply an efficient way to journal, to chronicle your life. I have happened upon bloggers who sparked my interest; when I began commenting on their blogs, they seemed absolutely flabbergasted that someone out there was actually reading what they wrote. The blog is a 21st-century equivalent of the diary kept by almost every literate person in the Victorian era, a place to capture fleeting thoughts, work out what's eating at them, gnaw at political or ethical questions. It's the technological version of the highschool slambook. It's the Christmas newsletter on speed, or the replacement for the packet of family letters that got collected and sent on from parent to child. In the 80s and early 90s, the same niche was populated by people who purchased cheap desktop publishing software and equipment and published local broadsides to be distributed at the convenience store down the street; the difference is that the monetary investment is much less and the convenience factor is much more. Out of that stew of 50 million people spewing out their thoughts on the internet come small communities, circles of people who find other people with similar interests or outlooks. (Think of it as a conglomeration of living Venn Diagrams.) To the people in those small communities, the "value of sharing your experiences" is...well...invaluable. Nobody is claiming that all those blogs out there are, de facto, gems of literature that will gleam forever. What is claimed is that the froth will generate some value, that some people whose eloquent or expert or funny voices would never have been heard before will gain some well-earned followings. Even people who start out with the attitude that "blogs are stupid" can discover, to their amazement, that there are folks out there with voices that appeal to them, and experiences that resonate with them. It fascinates me that there are such widely divergent blogs as those that focus on superficial stuff a la People Magazine, heartrending sharing, delving into the question of the USA's math education problems, and Geoffrey Chaucer reborn. (In other measures of "value", just think of the amazing lode of social science research blogging provides; at the very least, years from now archive-diving researchers will relish the sheer mundaneness of millions of people chronicling their daily lives.) Some people do make a living blogging. More power to them, say I. My scribblings, though, are not done to make a living; lemming-like, I started blogging because all my friends were doing it, and it has become a hobby, an exercise in discipline, and a method of social outreach all in one handy package.
posted by Kate @ 3/20/2006 11:50:00 PM  
  • At 3/21/2006 02:25:00 AM, Blogger Miss Cellania said…

    Its a good way to meet guys, too!

  • At 3/21/2006 05:41:00 AM, Blogger Jozet said…

    A love blogs. I'm such a snoop...this is a great way to read what the ordinary guy and gal - and not so ordinary guy and gal - is thinking. Perhaps an edited or altered voice, but much different than you get in a conversation over coffee. None of that self-conscious shifting in the seat, wondering whether your listener is really looking at the new pimple on your chin.

    Although, perhpas self-conscious in other ways.

    Anyway, I'm a big blog fan As a voyeur, tt's much more convenient than sneaking into people's homes and cracking the locks on their diaries.

  • At 3/21/2006 12:17:00 PM, Blogger PAgent said…

    I am constantly irritated that my blog has STILL failed to garner me the fame and fortune I so RICHLY deserve. I anticipated signing a multibook contract with a major publishing house after a week. Okay, two weeks.

  • At 3/21/2006 07:27:00 PM, Blogger Kate said…

    Tsk, PAGent. You're going at this all wrong. You're supposed to become an a-list pontificator and sell ads on your blog, thus taking valuable readership away from newspaper columnists and established media folk, who are the only ones who truly know how to write.

    Now, to be more serious: There are lots of columnists and established media voices who are where they are because--well--they do know how to write. And there are plenty of bloggers out there who do make a good buck out of their blogs (Dooce comes to mind). The problem is (as Newsome and many others note) that the cognoscenti seem to want to keep control of who is seen as a "good" blogger worthy of being followed. It's all about "gatekeeping" and "cracking the A-list" to some folks; whereas, to many of us low-level bloggers, the thought of losing your day job and trying to make a living via blogging isn't a daydream, but a nightmare! ;-) (I like my day job!)

  • At 3/21/2006 07:27:00 PM, Blogger Kate said…

    Miss C., you are guy-obsessed these days! ;-)

  • At 3/21/2006 07:29:00 PM, Blogger Kate said…

    Jozet--I love the idea of breaking into people's houses to read their diaries! Hey, everyone, I'm pimping Jozet's blog here--you've got to read her, she's very funny (in a quite different way than Miss C. is very funny).

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About Me
Name: OmegaMom
Home: Southwest
About Me: Middle-aged mom of a 4-year-old adopted from China. Love science, debate, good SF and fantasy, hiking, music of almost every style. Lousy housekeeper. "Good enough" mom.
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