Thursday, July 19, 2012

In Defense Of Blogging

[It's just so dang easy to start with an xkcd. I can't help myself.]

It has been nine years since I started this blog.

In those nine years, the blogging world has changed drastically. Nine years ago, there were a few options in blog hosts and within those only a handful of choices for layout. Posting pictures was ... difficult. Forget about videos -- YouTube didn't even exist for two more years. Blogs were basic and amateurish and for those reasons not overly popular. If you wanted someone to read it, you basically had to hand out your URL.

What started as a few nerds talking about whatever came to mind has exploded. Now, if you're interested in a topic -- any topic -- there's someone out there that blogs about it. Newspapers and TV channels have, in essence, daily columns in blog form. Company websites have blogs to keep their customers up to date. Families use them to keep track of each other from states or countries or oceans away. There are also still plenty of us writing near-crap to keep the Internet spinning. (This would be where I'd talk about the stream-of-consciousness phenom of Tumblr. However, I still don't know what to think of that.)

Gone are the days when a blog pretty much always looked like a late-nineties incarnation of a Geocities website. Now, you can make a blog look downright pretty without spending a penny. They're integrated into websites ... or websites are integrated into the blog. They've gotten more useful and less useful all at the same time. Blogging has been everything from crucial to relevant to a punchline.

Blogs, however, serve one major purpose in almost all of their forms: a blog offers the opportunity to expand an opinion that is then not forced on anyone. Unlike the ubiquitous and obnoxious comment section, they offer the chance to say as much as you want to say to an audience in complete control of what they read.

I like to think of them as the opposite side of that anonymity problem that I vented about a few months ago. A blog can offer anonymity while forcing you to live with what you've written. While I would never go so far as saying that they force Internet responsibility (ha!), there's a running record -- and unlike the comment sections, it's hard to simply backtrack on what you've said. There's far more ownership involved.

Anonymity or no, they also offer the chance to be genuinely useful to a random person a thousand miles away. For that, I admire the topical bloggers out there -- I don't have the focus.

I'm okay with not having a useful blog. I don't think my handful of regular readers have many major complaints (a few, but not too many) and while sometimes I like to talk serious topics, sometimes I just want to vent. [For instance, why on earth do I have the "Darkwing Duck" theme song stuck in my head?! It doesn't make sense!] For me, blogging is a way to keep myself writing -- and I can say with absolute certainty that getting some of the crap out of the way here has improved my writing in other places. I'm sorry you're subjected to that, but boy, does it come in handy sometimes.

That being said, I think I need to get back to some of that "other." Have a good night, all -- and stay cool, if at all possible.

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