I was following a trail of links (BoingBoing over to Joi Ito where I found a trackback from S A L E S M I N D S E T) and I surfed over to that last blog to see what it was about. I actually never found the post that had tracked back to Ito’s blog, but a cursory scan of the topics that were on the site made me wonder what exactly it was. It seemed to be a professional blog–that is, he’s paid to post there by a company. So I checked the About Me section to see who he works for, and why.
I discovered that this guy is in charge of Tucows’ attempt to branch out into the world of blogging. In his sidebar, you’ll see some “example” blogs–they’re totally not real, but somebody put a lot of time and effort into making them look authentic (and snazzy). I visited the homepage of the service, Blogware.com, and looked around some more.
I’m still not exactly sure what this service is. I mean, is it just another Blogger/LiveJournal/Xanga/Blog-City/Typepad? Why are the “about us” pages so elaborate? And why do they have so many “example” blogs and hardly any real ones?
It seems a little slimy to me, and I’m not sure why.
I think maybe I have an idea of how blogs are, and maybe I think of them as being more grassroots? Whereas this service seems more like a sell-out. They essentially tell you how to make your blog, including what you might write about. It makes blogging seem less like something for people who have something to say, and more like something for everyone to do, regardless of whether or not they have any insights whatsoever.
Maybe I feel threatened by the potential levelling of the playing field? But I’m not sure about that, because I think it’s great for people to have tools that can help them easily create online journals. Maybe, instead, I’m worried that people who are boring will feel like they need to blog–that the blogosphere will become saturated by sleep-inducing diatribes. (Don’t we have enough of those already?)
I don’t mean to sound elitist, but I guess I can’t get behind a company whose strategy is to encourage anyone and everyone, regardless of talent, ability, and insightfulness, to create something which they can then charge for. (Because, ultimately, that’s got to be the point of this, right?)
But maybe I’m too harsh. After all, maybe one of those people who never would have blogged without encouragement will develop into a passionate, fascinating writer. It’d be a shame for that not to happen. And somebody’s gotta make money off of blogging somewhere, right?
I suppose I’m just concerned about how the blogosphere is evolving, where it’s going, why it’s going there, and what will happen to it. I hope it grows and thrives. I don’t want to see it burn out, or amass into nothing but a glut of mediocre whine-rants.
Of course, saying all of this makes me wonder about my own blog. I’ve mentioned to others that the main purpose of this journal is to archive myself. (Yes, new readers, I am that arrogant.) This journal will remain after my death as an information archive for my biographers. My links to news stories will tell people what I was interested in. And hopefully my projects and workshops (these don’t exist yet, by the way) will help literature students understand my process. But at the same time…I am very much interested in contemporary feedback.
I look back on my more recent journal entries and I see very few comments. Many of the people who have linked to me in the past haven’t remarked on anything in quite some time. I wonder why they liked my blog to begin with, and whether or not they still like it. I wonder if I am posting too many links, and not enough commentary. I wonder if what I’m writing about is uninteresting. I wonder if I spend too little time revising and polishing my posts. I also wonder if I’m simply not attracting readers due to a lack of advertising.
If anyone is still out there, won’t you chime in? What am I doing right? What am I doing wrong? Is there a reason you don’t comment much? What do you think of my blog in light of my discussion above?