Friday, March 31, 2006

What's in a blog?

Rosenbeans asks, "Why blog?" The subject of blogging is all over the place in the media right now. Even the recent issue of my alumnae magazine has a feature article about six alums who blog. I immediately felt slighted when I saw that my blog wasn't among those featured, and then I was pissed that my entire decade was overlooked. The article spotlights blogs by alumnae from classes of the 60s, 80s, 90s, and 00s. I'd always thought that those of us who came of age in the 70s were a pretty interesting group -- certainly much more so than those born in the 80s and raised under Reagan. And we have much more to blog about than driving around listening to the Indigo Girls (00s) or hot flashes and widowhood (60s). I digress. Rant over.

Why am I so attracted to blogs and blogging? In part, it's because of the technology (see my first post about my former aversion to WYSIWYG). It's so easy and accessible (and free). While the same essential technology is used across a variety of venues -- Blogspot, Typepad, LiveJournal, MySpace (owned by Rupert Murdoch) and its evil Microsoft twin MSN Spaces -- people seem to separate themselves into different venues based on form and content, some of which I find more compelling than others. When I talk about blogs, I generally mean the sort on Blogspot or Typepad -- written for a public audience, usually centered around some sort of theme or purpose, aimed at attracting the attention of others who share those interests or appreciate the writer's craft. Private writing tends to be on LiveJournal. This genre seems narcissistic to me, and voyeuristic for those who the journaler chooses to allow to read the journal. Not that there's anything wrong with private writing -- it's just Not For Me. Those Space places are just about self-promotion and aren't worth discussing. These distinctions probably aren't as rigid as I've laid them out, but ask yourself this: Would Sarah Vowell or David Sedaris (or anyone else whose writing you like) have a blog, a LiveJournal or a Space. I think blog. (Do they?)

I went to part of a symposium on women's public voices the other day. I knew that women's voices, and women as subjects, are in slim supply in the media, but the stats are really dismal (see Global Media Monitoring Project). So, I'm all for using the technology as a means of getting more women's voices into the critical discourse. Blogging is a great way to do this, but so much of what's in the blogosphere isn't worth the bandwidth it's written on. But maybe everyone has to start somewhere, and those who post drivel today will go on to be tomorrow's Katha Pollitt.

To answer Rosenbean's question, I blog as a way of getting my creative juices flowing, to keep my pals informed on what I'm doing and thinking without having to write the same e-mail message over and over, and with the fantasy that I'm guessing many bloggers share: that some day my writing or my photos will find appreciation or acknowledgement in a larger arena.

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