Saturday, August 06, 2005

Thoughts on blogging

Just about every blogger eventually asks himself or herself the question, “Why do I blog?” and, since I was actually asked this question recently by someone else as well, I thought I might go ahead a give an answer on my blog.

So, my reasons for blogging, in order:
  1. The main reason is for myself-- the blog becomes an aggregate of sorts for my thoughts on a particular subject. It so happens that this subject (pastoral placement, in case you didn't catch it) is something that I have a good bit to say about; this makes for a pretty regularly updated blog.
  2. Similar to number 1-- for writing about placement. The key difference is that collecting my thoughts could be something other than “writing” (as a literary exercise) entirely. Since I am a writer (or maybe an aspiring writer?), and I want to publish on pastoral placement, the blog becomes a good venue for that. Since it is something that can (and, surprisingly, actually is) read regularly by others, there is some built-in accountability to the process: I have a sense of obligation to sit down and write about pastoral placement several times a week.
  3. The third reason is for others' benefit. In a big-picture way, this is actually the #1 reason I do all of it, but in the short-term this takes a lower priority to the actual development of some thoughts. I'm not trying to turn readers away by saying this; I am thankful for everyone who reads my blog. But this is, if you will, the “beta-test” version of my thoughts on pastoral placement-- your readership and participation are invaluable to me for the purpose of getting feedback and refining my ideas, but we should all understand upfront that this will, hopefully, become something more than just a collection of posts on a website.
That said, I have a few more thoughts on blogs, mine and in general. I deleted a comment from a friend of mine today, for reasons that I believe legitimate, but I want to try to explain them. I think non-bloggers (even those who read blogs regularly) sometimes miss these points. Here are my other thoughts:
  • Blogs are usually pretty personal things; this is certainly the case for mine. There is something in reading blogs akin to opening someone else's diary: you're getting a peek at intimate and vulnerable details that otherwise might not be available to you. It can therefore be an amazing way to get to know someone (but don't take this too far; Jeremy Huggins's wise thoughts and experiences demonstrate how it can be quite the opposite). However, your offhand comment that just came to mind may not always be welcomed.
  • Some blogs have specific purposes that guide what and how they post. Mine is like this. On these blogs, it is implied that comments stick to the stated topic. In other words, if a tangent ventures too far from the primary ray, don't be too surprised to see it cut off or erased entirely. I don't frown on occasional personal or off-topic comments on my blog, but I do reserve the right to stop discussion that is going far afield of pastoral placement (or that is leaving the field entirely!).
  • There is a certain etiquette and maturity to being a blog-reader. A guy named Tally Wiglis has written a great blog post about this that I would recommend. I think the one that strikes me as being the most relevant to my blog is the idea that, “Each blog you visit is the internet 'home' of someone.” Tally's point about what you would or wouldn't say in someone's home (or to someone's face) is poignant; it also is considerable how much the absence of tone, facial expression, body language, and simple laughter can affect the way a comment is interpreted.
  • There is only so much aggression that I'll take. I don't blog to invite controversy, even though I have blogged about controversy before. I'm simply not interested in my blog becoming another place for people to get into each others' faces (or mine). If a comment seems (to me) to have a tone of aggressive or defensive posture, I'll probably delete it. Especially if the post is made anonymously.
  • It's my blog after all. Defining a “blog” is not an easy thing, but I can tell you what it is not: it's not a public forum, it's not a wiki, and it's not a discussion board. All of the content here is mine-- including comments-- so I don't have to ask anyone's permission to post on particular topics or to take comments down that I don't like. Anyone else's personal stake in what does or doesn't remain on my blog is presumed and false. That sounds a little persnickety, but it needs to be said in a clear and understandable way. The few times I've removed comments have produced complaints from the posters, but frankly they all came off as out of accord with one of the previous four thoughts (whether intended or not).
I love the blog format, I plan to continue blogging for the foreseeable future, and I would love to have even more comments than I already do. I also have become convinced that I needed to get these ideas out into the open.


MTG said...

Close to home!!! My other blog (now closed) was invaded by an absolutly horrid group of bad that deleting the comments was not enough. I read about thrity blogs and am SO careful to only leave a comment that will edify. If I have a disagreement I leave it alone, like you said" It's their house".

Apostle John said...

Why do I blog?

I am, therefore I blog :)