Sunday, January 14, 2007

Philosophy of Blogging

It's 1:30 in the morning and I can't seem to sleep. That's why I'm blogging. Actually, I think the question, "why does someone blog?" can be an interesting one.

There seems to be three types of bloggers: Diarists, Essayists, and Journalists. Let's look at each one in detail.
  • The Diarist
This is what most of the blogging community started out as, the very essence of Xanga, LiveJournal, and the 95% of MySpace that isn't pedophiles. These people blog like the family Christmas letter, except since they're not condensing an entire year into one letter, they're free to expand on details both lurid and uninteresting.

When I started blogging, I swore that I wouldn't let my blog end up like that. I find those blogs somewhat boring, and they end up being a horrible replacement for actually interacting with a friend. Why ask them how they're doing when you can read it on their blog?

Besides, I have nothing interesting to write about. Here's how I imagine my blog would look if I took that route:
Well, today was boring. I didn't have anything fun to do, and I didn't feel like being productive, so I played a video game I've already beaten 3 times for about 7 hours. I tried to read some stuff for school after that, but had the concentration of an ADD-riddled chipmunk, so I decided to watch cartoons instead. I think I had a piece of toast for breakfast.
Current Mood: Geeky
Currently Listening To: My mother wishing I would leave the house once in a while
Yeah. Really exciting. I guess this works if you're friends with the blogger. Still, it strikes me as a strange alternative to human interaction.
  • The Essayist
This form of blogging actually seems to be the most interesting. When I think of how some of the great authors and philosophers would write essays, they were striking out from their stardard material. Perhaps the thoughts didn't warrant more than a page or two of well-crafted prose, but there was great insight and wisdom to be delved from the pages. Maybe blogging is the spiritual successor to the essay of days gone by.

Maybe not.

Some essayists cover specialty interests, or choose to tackle interesting (hit or miss) photo-essays. Most end up like editorial columnists, commenting on news and events and wishing for all the world that their opinions would matter. For the record, I do group myself into that batch.

I think this really has a lot of potential, but only in the sense that any form of media has potential. You can leverage a lot of influence running a magazine, but let's face it: Not everybody who staples together photocopies of their latest essays will become the next Time magazine. I'd even settle for Ladies' Home Journal. There's some blogs out there read by people in the upper echelons of power, but they're distinguished by being both fantastically written and highly credible. Hugh Hewitt, the mafia-like Godfather of conservative blogging, teaches Constitutional Law at a law school, and (if I recall correctly) was a White House lawyer for a previous administration. He's pretty savvy when it comes to politics.

Of course, this doesn't mean you have to be intimately involved in some field in order to have an opinion about it, but if you want to get noticed, your ideas had better be sharp.
  • The Journalist
These guys are bold. Not being content to work for a traditional media outlet or just comment, they struck out onto the internet and decided to do original reportage. Actually, a lot of these guys blend in with the Essayists, too, but nevermind that.

There's a wide variety of these guys, ranging from the independent journalist embedding with military units in Iraq and Afghanistan to gossip columnists posting the latest photos of celebrity crotch.

What's there to say? If these guys are good at what they do, they get noticed. Some great examples include Ed Morrisey of Captain's Quarters and his reportage of the Canadian Adscam trial and the Powerline guys and their coverage of the "Rathergate" fiasco.

Of course, none of that really answers why anybody blogs. It just categorizes how they blog.

I guess we blog because we enjoy it. Diarists wear their hearts on the sleeves and want the world to know how they're feeling. Essayists are the same way, except they want the world to know their opinions, not their feelings. Journalists want to spread the truth, and there's no crime in that. Well, the truth and shots of famous genitals, depending on who you read.

I suppose some people do it to be noticed, although I'll bet a lot of them don't start out that way. I'm sure most of the biggest bloggers didn't start out expecting to have weekly readership comparable to major newspapers.

Why do I do it? Writing is fun, and it gives me a chance to express opinions I'm not allowed to in "polite" conversation. But I have no illusions about how much influence my blog will have. I get 120 visits each week, and I'd say half of them are me just using my blogroll to scan other blogs.

I still enjoy it. Now if only I could come up with something witty and humorous to end this post with. Oh well.

1 comment:

Rach said...

As a witty ending, I would have enjoyed either a captivating retelling of what you ate for dinner OR a brilliant, parallelism-infused, daringly long paragraph about how hard it is to end a blog in general.