Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Blogging, mildly interesting

I went to a talk by Frank Swain of Science Punk tonight on zines, blogging and making sweet websites. Pretty interesting I thought.

I often don't go to forums on blogging or new media partly because I'm more interested in politics than the specifics of political communication and partly because so often blogging is taken completely out of proportion, portrayed as some kind of magic bullet but with little concrete said that's of practical use.

I liked Frank's approach in that he made it clear that good blogging includes;

  1. a lot of work. It isn't a short cut to some well paid career or fame.
  2. it's not about competition but cooperation and community.
  3. it has to be a labour of love or it isn't worth doing.
  4. it should have the do it yourself punk ethic of a fanzine.
  5. it should be ad-free.
It's that power of community that makes blogging so interesting but also makes success difficult to measure. A site might get huge numbers of hits but this wont necessarily equate with positive influence or a genuine contribution to debate.

Frank used the example that of all the posts he's written the one that has some of the most contributions was where he was debunking a nutty theory that honey and cinnamon could cure anything - which attracted dozens of loons claiming that, in fact, it can cure anything. Yes, lots of hits, lots of visitors - but why on Earth would you want that?

Thankfully I don't have any pretensions about my blogging. I do it because I want to and you might not believe this but when I don't feel like it I just don't blog, and I certainly don't monitor my stats or treat other bloggers like rivals. I should probably be a little more focused about why I blog to turn it into something a bit more substantial but do you know what, I don't want to.

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