Why Blog? The question revisited

I’ve tried to write this post many times, in many different ways. Each time it ends up with this long directionless ramble that never really finishes. So, sixth time lucky…

Why do I blog? What is this blog for?

Those are two questions that I am asked time and again. That someone who has been reading this blog for many months now feels he has to ask me what Bright Meadow is for indicates that I am not doing too good of a job of explaining to people. I don’t make money from blogging, it’s not helping my career, and it could even be argued that I blogged to the slight detriment to my recent study, so, let me try once more and explain why I blog.

I stand by what I said before on the matter. For me, this blog is a three-fold entity.

Firstly, I have always written. It is how I make sense of the mental and physical worlds which I inhabit. When I face a problem, I invariably sit down and write something, and by the end of that process I can frequently see my way clear. Writing is my release valve in the way that other people have kick-boxing, playing the guitar, or beating the crap out of others in computer games. Most of what I write never gets seen, but there are some bits that, at the end of the day, aren’t to shabby. Why put these online? I counter with why not? Everything I write is written in the spirit of a conversation with a friend, and I see everyone who reads Bright Meadow as a friend, or at least as a potential friend. By sharing my words I gain new insights and different perspectives on things. It is an old platitude, but a trouble shared, even if only shared with an unspecified number of readers, is a trouble made smaller.

The many iterations of Bright Meadow, from back even before the days when it was called Restholm and lodged on Geocities, have secondly always existed as a way for my friends to keep in touch with what is happening in my life. The “Cas, are you still alive?” emails really did fall with monotonous regularity into my inbox. It is appalling how bad I am at correspondence. When your nearest and dearest are scattered over the globe (in the days before Skype at least), it is handy to have a little personal space where you are more or less guaranteed to find me and be able to wrest a response from me.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Bright Meadow serves as a way to meet new people. I don’t actively seek new readers, but one or two have stumbled across this little corner of the web, liked what they saw, and have stayed. They have, in turn, become people I enjoy interacting with. It is a certain I would have never met them without this blog, and my life would have been the poorer for it. I have a tendency to dwell and go into hermit mode if I am not careful – this blog forces me to look outside the cave once in a while. Always thinking “me, me, me” is not very productive, nor is it very conducive to a positive mental state.

That answers the “why” of my blogging, but doesn’t really address the “what” that I blog.

As previously mentioned, I tend to see what I write as conversations with friends. Indeed, it is not uncommon for the ideas of posts to originate in actual conversations with people. I blog about things that have happened to me, things that I am thinking about, things that have amused me, or things that have annoyed me. As a rule of thumb, if it’s something I’d tell my colleagues about over lunch, it’s something I will think about blogging.

Falling under the “things I’m thinking about” category are the bits and pieces that used to fall under the banner of my research – social computing, mainly the dissemination of information, and participation. Just because I finished the MSc and am taking a break from academia for a while, it doesn’t mean that I’ve lost all interest in the field, or that I never want to return. It still excites me. I still get geeky tingles down my spine when I come across fun little pieces of new tech (take, for instance, my insane excitement when cocomment was released) and, being the kind of girl that I am, I want to share my excitement with every body else!

RIB straight out asked me why I wouldn’t get mopey on the blog about a certain personal situation I find myself in. I struggled to come up with a concise reason (this post is partly an answer to his question) but it boils down to two related things.
1) I am just not that sort of person, or at least try not to be. There really is nothing to be gained by dwelling on things for any period of time. The situation sucks, sure, but moaning about it isn’t going to change that, so why waste the energy? *1*
2) The one thing worse than dwelling is listening to someone else dwelling. It really goes contrary to everything I want Bright Meadow to be, which is a place where people have a nice time. This isn’t to say that every now and again something a bit more serious and depressing won’t find it’s way onto the sit, but in general I prefer things to stick to the brighter side of the spectrum.

So what do I blog about? Pretty much anything and everything that wanders it’s way across my mind, but with a slight bias toward the funny, social computing, and Archaeology.

Which leaves one last question – who do I blog for?

Do I blog for my readers, or (like Molly) would I blog anyway? The easy answer is that I would blog anyway. I kept Restholm going when I had no readers, and blogged at Bright Meadow for many months when the only reader was Moose, my long suffering flat-mate. I like having a record somewhere of what I have written. That it is online means I can search it at will, and it will always be accessible even if I’ve forgotten to bring my trusty notebook along with me. *2*

Things get slightly more complex though, because I must admit that I do tailor what I post on the blog to my (potential) audience. I take time crafting ideas and sentences to a degree unnecessary if it was just a diary for personal consumption. I edit myself much like Anne Frank did. The lure of an audience, even one not yet created, is a very very strong one. Whilst I would still write and post if I went back to one (or heaven forfend no) readers, I take pride in knowing that what I write and post is winning me over new readers on a semi-regular basis. My decision not to post about the depressing and overtly intimate is partly personal reticence (I’m British, we don’t talk about our feelings) and partly knowing that most people would just be bored by it. Whilst I don’t think I’d ever completely change what I wrote about just because someone asked me to, I might write more about certain things if it became clear those were the more popular things. That’s how the Sunday Roasts came into being after all, and they’re not bad.

So there you have it. Blogging is my internal monologue made external. Bright Meadow is a rambling conversation with good friends – we share jokes, and we share problems, because that is what friends do. I’d blog if I didn’t have you to badger me, but I do have you and I am grateful because it forces me to actually think about what I write.

Phu feels the most important thing to think about when you create a site is why you are creating the site. You’ve also, as he goes on to point out, got to think about how you measure your success (the rational being, if you’re failing, it’s time to rethink what you’re doing). How do I measure “success” here at Bright Meadow? Success is when someone comments for the first time. When people keep coming back. When I get an email saying “I like your site”. But perhaps what makes me happiest and keeps me doing it? When I know I’ve made someone smile or laugh. Just to know I’ve made someone’s day momentarily brighter? That’s worth the most to me.

So there you have it. Hopefully you’re a bit clearer on this whole “Why the frell does Cas blog, and what the jimminy-crickets is Bright Meadow all about anyway?” issue. Still a bit confuddled? Ask me questions, I’ll do my best to answer.

And now I feel it’s time to turn the tables. If you blog, why do you blog? Conversely, if you don’t blog, why not? I genuinely recommend doing the occasional bit of introspection – force yourself to really look at why you do things. Good for the soul. Just, don’t go overboard, ok? If your mind is anything like my mind 1) I feel sorry for you, and 2) it’s a dangerous place to stay too long 😉

P.S. – Finding out that Josh has jacked it all in has got me thinking. Will I ever stop blogging? That’s a post for another day, but if you want reassurance, the answer is probably not. I enjoy writing too much.

Endnotes:
*1* I’m not saying I never mope, just that there’s a time and a place for it. That time and place is curled up on the Bond Chair, watching a crappy movie, with a bottle of red wine, a tub of Ben & Jerry’s, and a sympathetic listener. The time and place isn’t a public website. It may seem like I share a hell of a lot of my life, and I do, but there is stuff that is better left to more private venues.Back
*2*Dependent, of course, on web-access. But in this day and age, most of the places I travel, there’s an Internet hookup available.Back
blog, blogging, why blog, diary, anne frank, social computing, archaeology

8 thoughts on “Why Blog? The question revisited

  1. I totally understand. I blog as a form of self-therapy, and if I happen to help others in doing so, then that is a nice side-effect. Through it I have rediscovered a love of writing. Since I work in the media, for a while, writing because a task; thanks to blogs I now experience the same love I had when I first decided to work in this field.

  2. Thank you Jack.
    I have this personal policy that I never like to leave a comment unanswered and unloved like a puppy left stranded in the rain, but I honestly can’t think of anything constructive to add right now. I feel bad about this, but clearly a day of scanning images of little old ladies into the computer has sapped any creativity I ever had.

    So I shall just take this chance to welcome you properly to Bright Meadow.
    Hello 🙂

  3. Hi Cas: that’s very kind of you, thank you. I quite understand about your wishing to be the “hostess” here, as I feel a similar obligation on my blog.
       I must say, it’s nice coming to a UK blog. I visit a lot for work, but not as many for leisure.

  4. Well I’m glad you liked it – you would not believe how many times I re-wrote this post before posting it. Even now I see things I want to change…

    Perhaps in another six months I’ll revisit the question again 🙂

    And welcome to Bright Meadow Dan 🙂

  5. In some ways I can appreciate the effort you or any serious commentator would, or could, take in writing a piece about ‘why’ anybody does anything. Its something of an existential challenge.

  6. Pingback: Bright Meadow » Five Questions

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