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Blogging in 2011 11

Twice, three times, four times, I’ve opened a new post and then sat with it blank in front of me these past weeks. Not because I don’t write, because I do, pages, every day. Not because I don’t take pictures, because I do, hundreds every week.

I guess I feel some ambivalence about blogging. What does it mean to me? I love reading others’ words, seeing the images from different parts of the world. Reading about books and the writing of people who (want to) write them inspires me. I’ve even become a better citizen, commenting on blogs I read often. But I haven’t figured out what this space means in my life.

From a couple years of reading blogs, I think there are many reasons people blog. To share creative work, find an audience. To remember, capture, words and moments of life. Have conversations about politics. Find, give advice. Mostly people blog to connect in some way, through words, images, ideas, snapshots of their lives, everyday struggles and joys. People blog to set goals, and have company in trying to meet them. We blog to feel less alone, in whatever we do the rest of the time.

I’ve been hearing people say lately that blogging is dying. That it’s “so last year”. What do they mean by this? I think they mean maybe the kind of blogging that is raw sharing, unfocused, venting. Yet from what I’m reading, blogging is quite alive and well. Maybe because I’m drawn to creative (writing, art etc), hobby-focused (cooking, crafts) and support (infertility) blogs these days, and all are spaces that have a real purpose, where the kind of connection that can come from taking parts of themselves and their work and “throwing them on the web”* has meaning for creator and reader.

I’m not sure what blogging means for me as I write this. It changes. When I started buddingscholar nearly four years ago it was about figuring out who I was as a Ph.D. student. Last year in Barcelona it was about escape from the loneliness of working on my dissertation study. And when I started dailyfieldnotes, it was to broaden things, write about my life beyond school. And now?

I’ve been watching this amaryllis grow this last month, and three days ago it started blooming. Watching the green stems and tightly closed buds push their ways up felt hopeful, full of potential. The blooming: it’s bare, wide open, risky, vulnerable.

I don’t know what this medium means, or what stories of who I am will come through here. But looking ahead to the year, I’m resolving to do one thing: write, once a week, and “throw it on the web”, here. Really this is a promise to take the writing I already do, and maybe do some of it here, or else shape it and form it into stories and pieces of a narrative. Once a week, a post. Though I dream of doing it more often, especially posts with pictures, my commitment to myself and the world of blogging is once a week, normally on Saturdays.

When 2012 rolls around, we’ll see what blogging can mean in one year of this girl’s life.

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What does blogging mean to you? What keeps you doing it, or has made you stop? Anyone want to join me in my post promise?

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*Jon Stewart has started saying this at the end of a lot of his interviews. It implies a casual, quick way to see the rest of the conversations with his guests, but it also suggests hurling and tossing and other things you do with a physical object, and as a metaphor it seems both apt and wrong as a way of talking about what you put online…

11 comments

  1. lizardek

    01/09/2011 at 11:27 am

    I think everyone who blogs goes through feelings of ambivalence about it, and I think the reasons people blog change as well…rather often, in fact. However, blogging is really just journaling (in the purest sense), regardless that the medium is online, and journaling will never really go out of style, I suspect. People have been journaling since paper and pens were invented and I’m sure they’ll continue no matter what the medium or what the trends dictate. I blog because of the community, because of posterity, because it’s better at remembering than I am. I blog because it strengthens and improves my writing skills. I blog because I find wonderful people who read and write, too.

    If some people think that “blogging is dying”, perhaps it’s only that the ones that aren’t serious about writing are moving on, and that’s fine with me. Or maybe it means that people are lazy and find Twitter and Facebook to be better substitutes, and quicker ones, for sharing themselves by. But I don’t think anything can replace the feeling of really writing down the things that matter to you, or sharing them and getting feedback, or building a place for yourself where you can put your voice out there.

     
  2. Larry Gallagher

    01/09/2011 at 2:00 pm

    I concur with lizardek – people have been journaling in some form since the written word was invented (and telling stories to be passed down before that). I always walk a fine line with my infrequent blog posts between personal journaling (more writing to organize/record my own insights) and sharing those insights. Some of what I learn is personal, sometimes painful, potentially embarrassing. On the other hand, sharing such stories helps other people realize they’re not the only ones with such “crazy” thoughts and feelings (and this is one reason I enjoy reading other people’s blogs, too). And I realize that I worry most about those people in my friendship circle who are not my inner-most friends (who will always accept me for who I am anyway). People I care about but haven’t necessarily completely opened up with (co-workers count, too). I link my blog posts to my FB page, so there are potentially more than a few readers out there. It ups the ante on intimacy.

    Like you, I would like to commit to more frequent/regular blog posts. I’ve watched a woodworker/scholar in the mid-west develop his ideas about “hands on education” over the past few years (The Wisdom of the Hands), and these are as much personal musing/meandering/works-in-progress as anything else. Again, a difference between the personal journal (where embryonic ideas develop in private) and the public posting – are my half-baked thoughts ready to be shared? I’d like to err on the side of sharing.

    So am I ready to make a commitment/pledge? Perhaps. Sundays are good writing times – maybe I’ll set aside time on Sunday to update my blog postings. It’s a form of “giving back” or “paying it forward” to the blogging community.

    I for one enjoy reading your postings (both your older blogs and this one). I miss your physical presence in our formerly shared work environment, and like staying vicariously in touch with your life.

     
  3. Megsie

    01/09/2011 at 3:49 pm

    I have struggled a lot with this as well. I was a reader of blogs for years before I started my own. I think there are many reasons that I began. The first one was the journaling part that Liz was talking about, but with feedback. I knew I was (and am!) in a period of transition because my kids were going to be in school full time. I wanted to document this period of uncertainty, and I also wanted the support from my bloggy friends. I had commented for a while and had emailed back and forth with several people. So, in reality, I wanted to join the community. I wanted my friends to know more about me too. I haven’t regretted it at all, however, I don’t have a real “purpose” to my writing. I mostly just vomit out whatever is in my head. Not only that, but I am not a writer, so my words are not beautiful or insightful. I many times feel like an impostor when I am blogging. (Especially this morning!) There are so many times when I think, “Geez, Meg, WHO CARES?” when I read my posts. The time has also been a factor. I really want to post regularly, but this past November I was swamped. I didn’t have an extra minute, and if I did, I had ZERO energy to sit down and post. So, there you go. I am ambivalent about it even now, but I have made the commitment, so I will continue to do the best I can.

    I love your words by the way. And your photographs. I am excited that you will be posting at least once a week. It gives me something to look forward to. I had no idea that you had another blog, I will have to check it out!

     
  4. Cherry

    01/09/2011 at 5:22 pm

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments! It’s a really nice feeling to turn this into a conversation, since the ambivalence has just been living in my head…

    I’m looking forward to this commitment, to seeing what it might become, formed or not!

     
  5. Periodic Maintenance « The Learning Curve

    01/10/2011 at 12:04 am

    […] friend of mine just wrote a “why blog at all” post, and I realized blogging is an odd hybrid of personal journaling and public journalism. Most of […]

     
    • Larry

      01/10/2011 at 2:27 pm

      Oh how odd! I didn’t realize WordPress would automatically cross-post if I embedded a link to this blog in my own!

       
  6. Cherry

    01/10/2011 at 3:26 pm

    Yes, Larry–I didn’t realize it either, but kind of cool. Got me to read your post–comments soon!

     
  7. The medium : {my topography}

    01/11/2011 at 6:52 pm

    […] different? Do you think that blogs are […]

     
  8. elayna

    01/11/2011 at 8:51 pm

    Im not sure if its that I haven’t seen this blog of yours or if I hadn’t read it but its like you were picking thoughts from my mind.

     
  9. Kim

    01/15/2011 at 2:51 pm

    I began my blog a few years ago as a means to share our life with our extended family, mainly giving grandparents and the like a peek into what’s going on since they all live so far away. I’ve been amazed at how many people share with me personally how they have been touched by something I’ve written, and I’ve felt the same way about blogs I’ve found.

    I love the connection, I love peeking into someone else’s reality, I love seeing what creativity means to others. It’s kind of ironic that I feel so much more connected to people on a basic human, natural level via this vast technological realm.

    🙂

     
  10. Justine

    02/10/2011 at 6:10 pm

    I blog b/c it’s an outlet that is more official than any paper journaling. It creates a roadmap of where I’ve been that’s easier to navigate than my journals. I try to consolidate and create stories and entries that are focused – I save my emotional ranting for my private life.

    Just found your blog via MyTopagraphy.com. I find Christina’s blog extremely inspiring. Glad I found yours now!

     

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