Thursday, January 20, 2005

on blogs

the possibility of a future news interview (!) about blogging has got me thinking about blogs as a form, and how they function. I gave a speech for class on this very topic this fall (which is why the news people got my name in the first place). I determined that most student bloggers fall into 3 categories:

1) diary bloggers: these people use their weblogs like a personal journal and air all their dirty laundry. They post to vent, celebrate, whine and swoon. These are frequently marked by disregard to conventions of spelling and grammar, use of internet abbreviations and emoticons, dramatic, personal, sometimes gossipy content.
This is of course dangerous, because blogs are, in fact, a public forum. Bloggers risk hurting those they talk about and embarrassing themselves. This also leads to readers who do not know the blogger in real life, but feel that they do because of longevity of reading, which can lead to stalkerdom.

2) christmas card bloggers: my xanga is usually an example of this category. We use blogs primarily as a way to keep up with friends we might not corresond with personally very often. These are like the annual christmas letter my family sends to people, just a generic response to the question "what's going on with you?"
These are less embarrassing than the diary style, but offer the same risks of unwanted readers, some of whom may be creepy internet people who feel they have a relationship with you by reading about your life. There is also the somewhat annoying side effect of having little new to say when you DO see your friends/readers face to face.

3) literary bloggers: my blogspot blog, which you are reading presently, aspires to be this category. Literary bloggers tend to post less frequently than the other styles, but their post content is less about their daily lives and more an opportunity to discuss ideas or to display creative writing.
These blogs are useful for practicing writing skills for other, bigger venues, for fostering discussion among readers (as is the case with some of the readers of this webpage) and for allowing the writer to figure out his/her position by expressing it.
blogger seems a better venue for this type of writing. At least, it's working out well for me. And for my friends, who are linked on the side of this page.
On the other hand, my friends who follow xanga like that as a way to stay in touch, so I'm not ready to abandon it altogether.

Of course, there are subject-specific blogs, such as political blogs, which get thousands of hits a day, but I'm more interested in the personal blogs with a smaller audience. Like the one I have.

Any other thoughts/observations? (I may steal them and say them to Fox17) Why do YOU blog? Why are you reading this?


Bob K said...

Why am I reading this? Becasue I find what you have to say fascinating and interesting and because by reading your blog I feel like I know you in real life.

love, Dad

Katherine said...

awww, bethany's dad is sweet!

hmm. i like that you've put into clearly articulated categories what i've observed on a less-thoughtful manner. i'm preparing to write an article on communication issues with gen x/y, and i'm planning to discuss blogging as one of the major forms of communication for the younger crowd. not that it isn't intergenerational... but if you look through a generic cross section of blogger profiles, most people who blog were born after 1970.

why do i read YOUR blog? we've never met, but your posts at the orchard are thoughtful, intelligent, and honest. there are really only a few blogs that i follow, and most of them fall into category 3, although those categories are certainly permeable. my old roommate's blog vacilates between personal diary to astute political commentary- but i know her in real life, so it seems a little different. like, i think i went to your xanga (or whatever it is!) once, and it didn't appeal to me nearly as much as this more literary blog. i don't need to know your personally to appreciate your poetry.

MattyA said...

I think you've nicely delineated blogging categories, but I'm curious about one thing you said. If "most student bloggers" fall into these three, do non-students have different ones? Do you note a significant difference between students and "real people"?

taliendo said...

Hiya Bethany --

Hmmm....why do I read your blog (I read both, btw)? Well, I have to say because I'm a weird internet guy. . .j/k. really. :)

I read this long list of blogs every day for the same reason I write in mine - compulsion. Writing is a serious craft and it's nice to find a place where all the rules of that art do not necessarily need to apply. Plus, as you stated, it's a convenient place to try out new pieces of that craft.

I will admit that I do enjoy sharing some of my personal life -- mostly because, as they say, art is life and life is art.


Epic said...

who said i read your blog? k, i do.
keep aspiring for literary quality online. I am a failure of a blogger, a category I think you forgot about...those of us who try to be cool in that -online-kinda-way--but fail because we belong in practice rooms not chat rooms.
much love