Why Blog? October 24, 2000 1:14 PM   Subscribe

What's the point of personal weblogs? Does it fulfill some psychological need? Is it for attention? For fun? I'm trying to figure it out myself.

I just started my own, and it's like... why am I doing this? It seems like a waste of my time. I'd really like to do one, but... I just don't know. And reading other peoples'... I mean, I'll never meet these people, never REALLY get to know them. I'm just posting my random thoughts to a webpage. But it's not like a journal, which I really enjoy, because it's not tangible, it's not there, for you to touch, to write in. Why do you guys and gals blog?
posted by gramcracker to General Weblog-Related at 1:14 PM (23 comments total)

It's really a personal thing for most people. All of the reasons above, or none of the reasons above.

I'm not a good journal keeper. I've tried in the past, and it just isn't something I enjoy doing. My words-per-minute through a keyboard is exceptionally higher than my wpm through a pen, that's one aspect of it.

If I think of something I want to say or remember during the day, a quick right-click and some keystrokes later and it's there.

I gives me a chance to practice my writing, which is always a plus, and I'm actually developing a narrative style, rather than being all over the board.

There's definetely a want for attention involved, although I doubt I'll ever attract a high level of readership.

It's a chance to stretch my design muscles, too. Try things I'm not able to at work, see how different pieces work together towards building something that's a whole. And not only my design muscles. I have Big Things In Mind for my web site, mostly relating to database access and PHP, and having a personal site is a good way to try those ideas out.

Having a blog as opposed to some other kind of personal site isn't necessary, but using a tool like Blogger cuts out the "I don't feel like hacking HTML to update" excuse, and the less excuses I have, the more work will be done on it. The blog format (time-stamped pieces in reverse chronological order for a few days of history) is just the natural result of using Blogger, it's the format that makes most sense with the tools.
posted by cCranium at 4:24 PM on October 24, 2000

My blog is a time-capsule of my daily happenings, my interests, what catches my eye. I've already enjoyed going back a few months and seeing what was on my mind.

Truly personal journals have always embarrassed me--I've destroyed several handwritten ones in my lifetime. Keeping it a little more superficial, or fit for public consumption, has made all the difference. It's made me more creative, and for some inexplicable reason, more honest.

I do have old web pages that I look back on from time to time, but in a few years, it will be my blog that is the real tool for seeing how far I've come.
posted by frykitty at 8:39 AM on October 25, 2000

I've spent a lot of my life slave to the urge to put thoughts into print. What's not to like about the ability to put little bitty thoughts into a little bitty space and share them to the entire interconnected universe?

I love the written word, and I find weblogging is like a drug. More! More words! More words now!
posted by mrmorgan at 2:20 PM on October 25, 2000

I like links. Over the years, I've found out that other people like and appreciate the links I've found. Instead of sending my friends mail 3 or 4 times a week filled with links, if I see something I like or that I'd know they'd be interested in, I put it in my weblog.

The side benefit of keeping a weblog is, of course, that other people besides the intended audience can benefit from it too.

Unlike a lot of people, I find the actual writing of the log entries to be the hardest part! I'm good at writing short descriptions, but putting them into coherent sentences takes a lot of work. Hopefully I'll get better, but after a year of blogging it doesn't quite look that way.
posted by Electric Elf at 8:49 PM on October 25, 2000

I started my Weblog for many of the above reasons. In 5th grade, my teacher sent a note home to my mother saying I must type everything from now on due to my horrendous handwriting.

So I started typing everything at a VERY early age. I got very good at it and although I don't type "properly" I can sure hunt and peck wicked fast.

That being said, I spend an incredible amount of time online. Since I'm a researcher and Web standards guru, do some work with Attrition.org and the Web Standards Project...I spend a good portion of my life online.

I also find hundreds of cool Web sites, articles and resources through my travels that I either bookmark and lose or forget to record. Web logging is part journal, part repository, part year-round Christmas letter for me.
posted by bkdelong at 7:00 AM on October 26, 2000

I think a lot of it has to do with getting audience.
A lot of new people, that just started a blog may say that they would like to keep a journal, place links, try writing, design and so on, but, more so than anything else, the audience factor plays in. I don't think it's because a person creates a site for the popularity, but, once you have taken the time and the energy, you want people to visit, because, dammit, you're no different from this and that guy. You know this and that guy, the ones that always have those cute 'I totally agree with that fuy, furthermore..." and then, on that guy's site he replies. Seems very nifty. Yep.
posted by tiaka at 5:34 AM on October 27, 2000

For me, moving around from 'puter to 'puter, keeping track of my bookmarks really sucks. I use a blog as a permanent home for bookmarks. And now that other people have started coming on board and checking out my links, it makes me feel like I'm doing a service to everyone. They can email me and it's like a groovey bookmark exchange sort of thing, man. I mean, most of my surfing is on other people's blogs nowadays anyway -- since that usually cuts thru right to the good stuff. Everybody ought to do it, cuz it's cool.
posted by snakey at 12:55 PM on October 27, 2000

I don't see what the problem is with any of those reasons. I blog for the discipline and practice at polishing pieces, to flesh out my own opinions on things I don't or won't be able to discuss in any other arena, and to force my personality on whoever's unlucky enough to fall into my space.

Also, blogging is a great way to score chicks. (Or so I've been told.)

Oh, alright.

I'm finding the audience thing does count, but the satisfaction of having posted something vaguely coherent is still kind of cool.

Course, my blog is only a month old. Surely by Christmas I'll be all jaded and sowhatwhocares.
posted by chicobangs at 2:50 PM on October 27, 2000

Posting to my blog obliges me to document my assertions with relevant links and put them into a somewhat coherent stream. Thus, blogging gets me into pondering my opinions before I become too sure of something.

Blogging the ideas I'm interested in will let me store them in my head in a cleaner, more balanced and researched format. If I want to convince myself I have a point, it needs to be potentially convincing to others as well. Exposing my brain dumps (www.curry.com) on the blog makes me work on what's inside my head too, so blogging is a mental process to better formulate my opinions.

A blog is also a good way to connect to a community of people interested in the same topics. It's productive to be in touch that way, so long as you don't cut yourself from other opinions and information sources.
posted by otravers at 5:35 AM on October 29, 2000

Argh! You can't edit a post on metafilter! Reading my last post again, I realize it's misleading. www.curry.com is not my blog, it's Adam Curry's, where I saw the phrase "brain dump."
posted by otravers at 5:39 AM on October 29, 2000

I consider my blog (just started a few weeks ago) to be a sort of embryonic stage of a project I've wanted to do for some time - to build a site where I can explore the creative possibilities of the web, through writing, design, and music. All of that is yet to come, though. For now, I just needed to do something to get started, however small. I discovered the blog world over the summer, and found that I really enjoy people's work - some beautiful designs, some great writing, both hilarious and moving. I hope I've got a little of that of my own to contribute.
posted by dnash at 10:39 AM on October 30, 2000

What's the point of personal weblogs?

The purpose of personal weblogs is for individuals to document their thoughts about the Internet, thereby regurgitating the best and worst in hopes of directing others to points of interest.

And yes, it does on rare occasion help one to score chicks. No foolin'.

Does it fulfill some psychological need?

That depends on which psychological need one needs fulfilling. For any potential psychological need though, I'm sure there's a better way to go about doing it. Blogging may be more convenient, but considering how many there are, the psychological need would have to be of an internal nature. Zen or.. something..

Is it for attention?

Not if you know what's good for you. You put your shingle out there. If you expect the whole world to beat a path to your door you'll be waiting a long time. Hope for a small but kind and occasionally vocal following. Expect more than your share of critics and detractors. Also, be careful what you ask for. Messages sent out into the cybernetic ether have a tendency to affect one's life in unpredictable ways.

For fun?

No reason to do it if it's not fun. I only post when it's fun. Which might be why I haven't posted much recently.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:33 PM on October 30, 2000

Oh, one more thing. I think things like MetaFilter, or blogs in which groups of people blog together, have more potential staying power and appeal to a wider audience. One person's thoughts is okay, but several independent thoughts bouncing off one another is just more fun.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:36 PM on October 30, 2000

agreed. the staying power of something like Metafilter is undeniable. don't know that anyone would really care about my opinions after a month or so.

blogging fulfills that need that I so often have to rant. sometimes, my wife isn't around for me to be able to complain to, and my trusty PC is, so I just hop on and go. sadly, it's gotten so that I don't really talk to that many people, I just tell them to click on my URL and they can find out all the minutae that's been going on in my life.
posted by SentientAI at 1:56 PM on October 30, 2000

One person's thoughts is okay, but several independent thoughts bouncing off one another is just more fun.

Then again there is a point where there are so many thoughts bouncing around that the balloon, Metafilter, pops. It seems that now it's just stretching and contracting periodically.

SentientAI, I know what you are talking about. I blog to keep my friends and family informed. It does keep those long distance charges down when I call them.

Actually, I think the greater purpose of the internet is to determine if the ammount of bullshit in the universe is infinite and I contribute daily. I'm working on a java applet called Bullshit@home so I can speed up the process.
posted by john at 5:05 PM on October 30, 2000

I started keeping a weblog to keep track of articles that are relevant to what I do.

I got sales training early in my career, one of the first things they told us was to read all the trade mags cover to cover to know what the competition is doing, and looking for trends that effect the business we're in. That habit stuck with me.

Before the web, I'd clip the articles, photocopy them and pass them around the company. After moving onto the web it was only natural to do the same thing, without wasting the paper.
posted by davewiner at 5:04 AM on October 31, 2000

To me, the proliferation of 'blogs is making up for the long desolate stretch between 1996 and early 1999 where everyone had a webpage that was either perpetually "under construction" or hadn't been touched for months, if not years.

Weblogging is like pirate radio. It's all me, broadcasting whatever I feel like into the void. Who cares why anyone does it. It's gotta better than choking the Web with bath product portals.

When I think of weblogs, I think of the Dr. Seuss story "Horton Hears A Who." Remember? We are here! We are here!

Ah, nevermind.
posted by scottandrew at 4:47 PM on October 31, 2000

WHY???!!! Because it's about the coolest freakin' thing there is!!

I've been keeping a weblog (diary?) for several years now. It's main purpose has always been for friends and family to keep tabs on me. I put up tons of pictures, recipes, links, stories. Old friends I haven't seen in years still drop by and check it out.

At the same time it's hard to resist the urge to get up on stage and have people stare at me for a while.

It's a lot of work. But enough people have told me that they appreciate it, and I have found that it's become sort of an addiction. And yes, it is a good way to score chicks.

Just today I made stuffed grape leaves for the office party. Lots of people asked for the recipe. No problem, I'll put it up on the site tomorrow. Check it out when ever you want.
posted by y6y6y6 at 7:10 PM on October 31, 2000

My friends were asking me about my blog, and they wanted to know why, if it's more of a journal than a collection of links, why do you post it online? Isn't that taking it one step further?

Would it be just as useful if it were just sitting on your hard drive, or in a notebook? Why online, where all can see?
posted by gramcracker at 7:42 AM on November 3, 2000

There's definitely an attraction to popularity, hits and stuff. But it's not just about being seen for the sake of being seen, either.

Yeah, I write a blog to keep track of my thoughts, and because I want people to read it say "Hey, this guy really is cool" (as opposed to "what a fuckin' knob!" like I usually get, but oh well :-) but it's also a part of being part of this community.

That's not to say that if you don't have a blog you're not a part, or not a good member or anything, but this community of bloggers are all people who like to share themselves with other people, and like to talk with other people, and hope that other people share with them. Us. Me. Whatever pronoun is appropriate, I'm just getting myself confused now.

When I click on someone's username from here, it's because for whatever reason their opinions have either rung true with me in one way or another, or they've had some insight on a topic I'm interested in, or they've pissed me off and I want to know what other assoholic things they've done or think.

Basically, a personal site of any kind allows us to expound upon ourselves for the community. For us, of course, but there's the sense of community.

And then there's the hits. Oh baby, what a rush when I see my daily hits have jumped from 1 to 2! Woo!

Don't take cold medicine and post, especially when you're already discussion a terribly vague and highly person-dependant topic. :-)
posted by cCranium at 8:49 AM on November 3, 2000

good lord I was repetitive. And I said the same thing over and over again!
posted by cCranium at 8:50 AM on November 3, 2000

not to mention redundant...

Of course, for me places like this make me want to play devil's advocate and watch the comments fly.
posted by john at 12:12 PM on November 3, 2000

This all reminds me of the smoking thread on Fray. It's an incredibly extensive catalog of people's experiences. Of course, the whole site is, but that topic is a particularly good lens. A lot of people pouring their hearts out.

I love to see something similar about the reasons for blogging. Not as provoking a topic as drugs, mind you.

I'm actually working on a research project on why people blog for my Anthropology class right now. If you might be interested in participating or looking at my findings, please email me via the profile page.
posted by rsexton404 at 9:43 PM on November 20, 2001

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