My last two entries here at SOB have focused on the downside of weblogging — most particularly, on spam comments and how good their propagators are getting at slipping them past both software and wetware filters. There’s an upside to weblogs, too, though. It’s time to focus on that a bit.
Darren Barefoot, a partner at a company heavily involved in online marketing called Capulet Communications, is interested in why people “blog”. Toward the end of learning something about that, he has created a survey that asks some interesting and, at times, penetrating questions about that very subject: the Why Do You Blog? survey. You might win something if you participate, and I might win something for linking to it, but I bring it up because it’s an interesting socio-psychological question. Answering the questions there made me take a moment to think through my experiences with weblogs and why I have engaged in such a pursuit in the first place.
My first really formalized weblogging took place at LiveJournal, largely at the behest of friends using LJ who seemed to want me to join in the fun. At the time, however, I was maintaining a sort of de facto weblog of my own that I pieced together one static HTML page at a time — the original SOB, with my original use of the backronym online. At the time, I claimed it meant “Stimulus Origo Brunonian”, a sort of recursive bit of pretentious frippery that roughly translated as “All perceptions originate in the infectious, afflicting nature of perceptions.” While the message in that phrase was an interesting one in its implications, at least to me, my real interest in using the SOB backronym was simply that I liked the conflation of its presentation with the traditional acronym for “Son Of a Bitch”. Such is my self-deprecating sense of humor.
After a couple years, give or take, of off-and-on involvement in LJ communities related to politics, computers, and similarly interesting (to me) subjects of discussion, I analyzed the relative popularity of various posts I’d made to my LJ there and came to the conclusion that the most popular stuff was the least thoughtful, briefest, and least involved of them. As such, I decided to spin off the more in-depth, thoughtful, and (to me) interesting stuff here at SOB, and keep the light-hearted, more superficial stuff there. In the end, I lost interest in maintaining the LJ after that, and found myself focusing my weblogging attention here instead. I haven’t posted to the LJ account in a very long time, and have even ceased any kind of regular checking of my LJ “friends list” some months ago. As far as weblogging is concerned, SOB is where I hang my
This current introspective examination of weblogging, and my participation in Darren Barefoot’s survey, is mostly Sterling‘s fault, thanks to his own weblog entry on the subject at Chip’s Quips, titled Why blogs? The conversation going on in comments there is somewhat interesting, and his main post itself is even more so — not just because of his thought-provoking (if only glancingly stated) discussion of the subject, but also because of the links and their relevance to the subject matter.
Go ahead and take the survey. You might win an iPod Shuffle (and even if you don’t want/need one, you might know someone who does), and perhaps more importantly it might give you something interesting to ponder for a while. Don’t feel rushed to finish it, of course: make sure you start on it when you don’t have to close your browser again for a while, in case you find you want to really think about your answers before committing them.
While you’re at it, consider telling me what comes to mind in comments here, or in your own weblogs — but if you present what you find elsewhere, please let me know so that I can read about it. Linking from another weblog that has pingback and/or trackback capability will suffice.