Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Harsh and Narrow Opinion of Bloggers and Their Blogs

A couple of my thoughts on this article:

Article Title: Calgary author says bloggers a lonely bunch unlikely to change the world
by Bill Graveland, Canadian Press
Published: Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Published in: The Gazette (Montreal, Canada)

1. In my case I can attest I am not a lonely blogger. Believe me.

2. I don’t think that the journalist doesn’t “get” how all readers use blogs. Not everyone uses blogs in the same way (the readers or the bloggers themselves).

I don’t spend a lot of time analyzing my blog reader’s patters but what I am finding is that I have a lot of blog visitors who are looking for a specific piece of information which they find on my blog. I am guessing they will never visit my blog again. That is fine with me as I want to talk about various things on my mind and I am fully aware that people use the Internet to find answers (doesn’t everyone know that)?

Interestingly I get a good number of hits on topics not central to my blog’s theme such as looking for a recipe that I blogged about making, looking for a product review or a summary of a TV show that I watched. A good example is people want summaries of Dr. Phil episodes that they didn’t get to watch or heard about only after it has aired. If someone is helped or informed or entertained by just one of my blog posts that is fine with me.

3. There are many blogs which tell a lot of personal information on a person such as what their mood is today, what they ate for their last meal and other such details. Perhaps that is what the journalist was referring to when he spoke of bloggers being lonely people?

4. Writers write and talkers talk. I have many friends who love to talk and chit-chat. Some of my friends like to spend time talking on the phone, especially those without children.

Only a writer who is writing from an internal drive and desire knows that it is actually painful for a writer to not write. It is like being thirsty and having that desire to take a drink of water, but of course with writing it is an outpouring of thoughts, ideas, and/or emotions rather than an intake process. Another example could be when you are in a quiet place like listening to a lecture and you have a tickle in your throat but you try to surpress clearing your throat or coughing as you want to keep quiet--it is SO hard to do.

Writing is like that for me. I can't stop myself from doing it. While listening to lectures I take notes. I write my thoughts. I doodle. I will write on any available scrap of paper if a computer is not handy. It is not a compulsion or some weird drive, it is just the way a writer is, it is a hard-wired thing.

My non-writer friends tell me they cannot relate or understand this feeling and some say they hate to write and find it a terribly painful process, even writing a paragraph to respond to an email asking them a question which they know the answer to is difficult. Example: Why do they like the math curriculum they use in homeschooling their childrn? Is that not an easy question to answer in a writen format? They tell me: no.

Some writers find it fun to play with words, to use fancy words or beautiful language; it is fun for them to work with words in that way. I imagine that is how poets are.

Others (like me) have a desire to communicate information (even if the risk is that no one cares or wants to read it).

Prior to blogging I spent at least an hour per day and sometimes two hours a day on Internet chat discussion groups, reading emailed messages on topics of my interest and responding back sometimes. I enjoy “talking” in a written format over the computer. Perhaps if I had access to people knowledgeable in the niche areas that I am interested in I’d do more phone chatting with them. But then again, probably not.

As I have explained to some non-Internet using friends, the beauty of email is that we can communicate what we want when it is convenient for us. There is nothing more frustrating to me than to have to tell someone something or to respond to their question but I can’t call them as it is late or early in the day or I phone them and they are not home. Also I like email because I can start it and then if I am interrupted I can stop. I can go back to it when I have time. I can re-read it and edit it. I don’t always do as well when speaking on the phone; I may not be able to make my point well and sometimes can’t get a word in edgewise if the other person rambles when talking.

Anyway I am doing much less email group discussion since I began blogging. I also have been getting more information and support from other bloggers than I did from email discussion groups. As for friendships, with eight years of Internet email discussion groups (Yahoo Groups! and similar forums) I have made only one actual friend. We email privately now and have spoken on the phone a couple of times.

My point is that I can’t stop writing. But now instead of just writing on email format I am blogging.

5. I don’t think that blogs necessarily compete with print media. I know that websites in general combined with blogs may contribute to a reduction of the readership of newspapers, though. Back when newspapers were the only source of printed news, there were probably more subscribers.

My friend K. told me about this story dated 2/7/07 in which the owner of The New York Times envisions an Internet-only based publication of their newspaper.

Our family doesn’t pay for a town or nearby city newspaper as we can read the news on the Internet for free. Back when we did subscribe we either didn’t have enough time to read the stories, or read them late after we already heard them somewhere else (including from the Internet). We also were often left feeling that the articles were biased or too short to give the story justice. We much prefer to get our news from the Internet as we can quickly find several articles to read to compare (and find bias). We also can use the Internet afterward to search out more information on a related topic from non-newspaper sources.

Presently I am enjoying our subscription to The Wall Street Journal. I like that I can read it in places away from my computer desk. I like reading off of paper not just 100% from a computer monitor. I find the quality of the writing in the WSJ top notch, and they cover topics before other media outlets are talking about them in some cases.

There will probably always be a market for printed newspapers so in a way I don’t think that just bloggers are a huge threat to the newspaper industry. If you combine websites, other newspapers websites and bloggers all together perhaps then there is an increased threat to lose regular readers of print newspapers to free online reading of similar content.

6. I personally feel that perhaps some journalists are threatened by SOME bloggers and perhaps this is what fueled this news story which seems to me to serve to insult bloggers.

Bloggers have more freedom than journalists who work for newspapers and magazines. We bloggers are free agents, answering only to ourselves regarding the content we publish. We can choose to be as controversial and opinionated as we desire (without an editor monitoring our writing). We have more freedom to write what we want rather than espousing the overall opinion or bias of the publication. We can blog quickly, blogging about a timely news piece and getting the information on the Internet way before a printed newspaper can. I bet most journalists envy the freedom that a blogger has.

7. I was speaking to my friend K. on the phone today about this article about blogging and this is the gist of what she said:

In American history, a certain core of people (Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine for example) were basically acting in the same role as bloggers. They wrote their own opinions in small paper pamphlets and sold them, they were like bloggers. They self-published their opinions on topics of their own interest, and they did find a readership. Despite the high level of writing, even farmers and common people were reading them. The general population was a literate and informed population. Both the writers and the readers were informed and interested in reading strong opinions such as criticizing and questioning the politicians, for example.

It is 2007 now. Blogging is just a different medium.

Blogging is free, so more people are doing it—self-publishing their own opinions and information. But today the readers can read it free of charge. As well the writer is removed from the financial issue of the cost of publication, since blogging is free, and the reader is removed from financial burden as the reading of the blog is free.

Blogging is like a renaissance of independent thinking and independent thought in America. While the Internet medium is new the general notion is the same. For quite some time the press was controlled by a few people and the information was watered down. The mainstream print media is opposed to blogging as they feel competitive with it. They don’t like that it is the most freedom of speech. The media cannot control what the bloggers are saying and that bothers them.

For example a person can now read a book review of Bill O’Reilly’s book on a blog while readers are not able to read that author’s book in the New York Times book review section, as they refuse to review O’Reilly’s book. It probably angers someone at the New York Times to know that others are out there publishing book reviews of books they don’t wish to be associated with. It may bother them that the bloggers book reviews may help the book’s sales, either!

Blogging is a great example of the freedom of speech in action.

Conclusion
There are many different kinds of blogs for readers to read. Some may make their owners wealthy while most will not earn a single penny. I feel that people read blogs for different reasons, for information or for entertainment. Some blogs have dedicated regular readers while others may not. Some blogs have high traffic while others do not.

I have no clue how many regular blog readers I have. So if you are a regular reader of my blog how about leaving a comment to let me know you exist?

Despite what this journalist says, I am not a lonely blogger. My life is very full.

I plan to keep blogging as long as it is fun for me and serves some purpose in my life. For now it is a way for me to write, to practice writing, and to share information and my ideas. I hope you enjoy or are helped by something you read on my blog, if not, I won’t be offended or upset. I am who I am, my blog is what it is, and you can take it or leave it--it is your prerogative.

Hat tip: Fuse Number 8

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1 comment:

Richard said...

FYI - You can access those Wall Street Journal articles for free with a Netpass from: http://news.congoo.com

They also give access to Harvard Health, Mornignstar and others subscription required sites.