Friday, December 09, 2005

The nature of blogging: what does it all mean (to me)?

It would be hard to ignore that (a) the WebBlog awards are here again, (b) that there is a book on British Blogging out, and (c) that the latter is causing some ruckus/comment in the blogsphere (since awards also make us aware of things and what is not nominated, I'm conflating the two).

Tim Worstall, esteemed collator/selector/editor of "2005 Blogged: Dispatches from the Blogosphere" has written extensively in response to people's reactions to the book and acknowledged some of its weaknesses (especially in reply to great posts such as that by Mike at Troubled Diva mentioned above which put the whole case much more eloquently than I could). But it did get me thinking about blogs: what they are, their purpose and their uses.

I mean, why do we blog? And does anyone care? Should they? Should any book on the topic be representative?

I initially posted on my Normblog profile that I blogged because I was "too cowardly to find a host for the website I have carefully constructed on my PC." Well, that's probably still true, but this has also subtly changed. I love the contact that blogging can bring me: a case of not just shouting into the wilderness, but establishing contact with those I would not otherwise meet. The thought that people located across this country and the globe would be spurred by my confession of feeling a bit down to send hugs and make silly remarks and all the rest is thrilling. Yet simultaneously it is obviously a public forum: and like most things that put you in the public eye, that can also have its downside. Rather like having your phone number listed in the directory (especially if you have a relatively uncommon name), it can be an invitation to all and sundry to get in touch. Yeah, I know, I'm contradictory - what! It took you this long to work that out?! - but I am an extroverted introvert. I draw attention to myself because I am terrified of being ignored - ah, my "only child" syndrome - yet also shrink in fear at being seen. It's a tough one to balance.

Why do I still blog and what is this blog about? Well, it's a bit random really. I do it because I rather like having the writing outlet and I'm too scatty to produce full texts after the PhD drain. I also like having the impetus to read other people's stuff and having this blog encourages me in that (I do read beyond my bloglist but that's my first port of call: and yes, I know not all of my readers are on it but I'm getting there). Blogging is a great way to express ideas, share ideas and operate a forum of commentary and debate. In terms of content, well, mostly it is cultural in its broadest sense. Sometimes I do have a rant about something political, but others generally do that better than me. I've not got a particularly reportage feel to this blog - I lack the interesting family and work life that I could report on (as, say, Jane so wittily does). I've also not got a specific cultural focus in only commenting on one particular thing... yes, I know the Paisley boys get a good load of mentions, but they're not the only topic here. Good TV and films; good books; good exhibitions: they're all fighting for house-room here.

And what connects these things? That would be me. Insignificant little ol' me. Oddly, though Tim Worstall's book tries to go beyond the political boundary, blogs such as this one probably are more representative of the overall picture of blogging. Sometimes inconsequential, sometimes commenting on crucial things, but always with an eye to being true to myself: to being personal.

Which kinda brings me to my final point ("at last" you cry!): that if you focus too much on how/why/whether there should have been more women bloggers in Worstall's book, it's a little like asking "why have there been no great women artists?" It's the question that's the problem: the very nature of not attending to the everyday, the relatively mundane, the trivial, the random. Sometimes you have to change the framework, as well as the attitudes that inform it, to get to why your list may be so partial.

5 comments:

HolyhosesRob said...

How absolutely true. It's funny how, for example, women in rock (so called) music are relatively rare (though less so in recent years - most of my reference points are much earlier), but if you turn the dial to country, you'd be a fool not to realise that most of the best stuff is produced by women - and most of them also rock. For years, my record collection was almost exclusively male, but now it is almost the opposite.

I had the thought, just before I went to university, that I didn't know much literature by women, and then I realised - silly! - that loads of my favourite writers (in SF and thrillers) were women. Even some of the men are women in disguise.

Marie said...

I just link to stuff I like but it seems that I've got about twice the amount of female bloggers on my list as male, and of the male, at least half are gay - go figure...

Marie said...

Of course, I've got a disporportionate amount of people who live in Switzerland as well. I suppose some things are just random.

Lorcy said...

First up, this news story on blogs always makes me laugh out loud.
Since I started blogging I have always loved how much it keeps me in contact with friends overseas. Plus one can rant without people telling you to shut up and/or hitting you, which is always good.

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

I still find they can tell you to shut up, but the hitting thing is more difficult thank goodness...