I don’t really have an introduction for this. I’m just going renegade on my own blog and talking about blogging instead of fiction this month.
It’s a playground
Remember in grammar school when the bell would ring and everyone’d spill onto the playground at once and the volume of voices would be simply deafening? And you had to work your way through the crowd to find your friends—who maybe were in different classrooms—and then go off to your designated favorite spot to play?
But you first had to make those friends, and you had to discover that designated favorite spot?
That’s the blogosphere: a playground the size of the entire planet. At eternal recess.
It’s a cocktail party
I used to go to a lot of parties in my twenties, and I spent quite a few hours sitting in the corners of people’s living rooms watching everyone else visit in states of great animation. They all looked like they were having such a good time that I never really noticed the other people sitting in the other corners.
Eventually I’d figure out where the kitchen was—there’d be a stream of people going in and out like ants—and I’d go in there and get a drink. And since getting a drink is one of those social things people do with strangers, sometimes I’d bump into some other poor soul who had also come to get a drink because they didn’t know anyone.
And we’d sit down on the floor together and visit in a state of great animation.
It’s a railway station
If we stayed in the kitchen long enough, other lonely people would wander in. We’d hail them from the floor, and they’d sit down with us.
Then someone else would come in. And someone else. And the party in the kitchen would be bigger for awhile.
Then someone would leave to use the bathroom and never return. And someone else. And someone else.
This back-&-forth would go on all night.
Sometimes for days.
It has historical precedence
In the nineteenth century, bloggers were called pamphleteers and they had to pay for their own printing. Then they’d run out and distribute their pamphlets all over the city. People would read them and write angry or appreciative letters to the editors of the newspapers.
And the pamphleteers would rustle up the cash to pay for another printing. Huge, long, involved debates went on this way.
History in the making!
It is addicting
Because blogging is almost free, the one serious constraint to unlimited opinion-making is now gone. And once you develop an opinion-making voice and get involved in an on-going community of opinionators, the conversation becomes greater than the sum of its parts.
You realize blogging not only has historical precedence, it is a historical precedent.
You are part of history.
There are too many bloggers out there to follow all the ones you want
Which makes it a little sad when it turns out you can’t possibly keep up with everyone you want to keep up with, because you have a livelihood to make and a mortgage to pay, so you still wind up spending most of your time working.
But you know the conversation is going on out there, with or without you, and you rush into the kitchen every now and then just to find out whether or not they’re playing kickball.
People will swipe your stuff
Yes, as in all walks of life, there will always be someone who wants credit for being part of the conversation but doesn’t have anything interesting to contribute. So they lift material from the sites of people who do.
NOTE: I do not mean quoting a paragraph or two with a linkback, which is intended to serve as the jumping-off point for discussion or to interest readers in a blog post you just really, really like. That’s all good clean fun. I mean lifting most or all of a post without so much as a by-your-leave.
There’s no point to it. Why would you want to lift from someone when you could simply ask permission? Or, better yet, just enjoy what they have to offer where it already is?
You have protection
Some people do this because they don’t understand the blogosphere. Thousands of newbies start blogs every day. (I did it once, too.)
And some do this under the mistaken assumption that the Internet is anarchy and there’s nothing you can do about it if they behave badly toward you. I call those people “rancid peanuts.”
Fortunately, they are wrong.
My sys admin knows to contact an ISP and have a chat with them about one of their hosted sites. ISPs are usually really nice about simply removing swiped material, and they can get quite annoyed at bloggers who make a pain of themselves by swiping material repeatedly or from various bloggers. (For the record, it’s not a very good idea to get your ISP annoyed at you.)
But ISPs consider it good form for us to send the site a Cease-&-Desist letter before we get around to contacting the ISP. “Cease” means “knock it off,” and “desist” means, “I said knock it off.” *
Of course, we always send a very friendly little note before a Cease-&-Desist letter, just saying, “We notice you have posted stuff that’s copyrighted. Please cut it back to the normal one or two paragraphs with a link. Thanks a bunch!” because we realize a certain number of these people aren’t consciously trying to be rude, they just don’t know what they’re doing.
And that generally solves the whole thing. **
* Definitions taken from the Dictionary of Victoria, which is not by any stretch of the imagination a legal reference, not even in my novels. Although it might be one day.
** And you can always get a lawyer. I’m not a lawyer—I don’t have the attention-span. But we never take legal advice from anyone who swipes my stuff. That wouldn’t make sense, would it? Nobody in their right mind takes legal advice from someone antagonistic to them.
You will make friends
This is, hands-down, the best reason to blog: because the blogosphere is chock full of other kids just like you who would like to join you playing in your designated favorite spot.
I work from home, which means I don’t hang out with anybody around the water-cooler during the week (except my husband, who also works from home, and even then we wind up IMing each other from our offices next door to each other in our attic).
Social isolation is becoming a phenomenon in modern industrialized society, especially in the US, where the 60-hour work week is, unfortunately, not uncommon these days. Americans have become used to socializing at work.
Guess where they’re socializing?
That’s right. Online.
Most of your readers will be invisible angels
And this is the second-best reason to blog: because, in spite of a handful of rancid peanuts out there, by far the majority of folks in the blogosphere are innocent and good-hearted, just looking to make friends. We read blogs, we talk about them with others, we pass the word around. Often we don’t have time to comment, but still, it’s lovely that we have time to read.
I know you guys are out there. I’m out there too. We can wave to each other in passing—hi!
Blogging is a ridiculous word for something that is changing the world
It comes from the term “web-log,” which comes from a mash of the terms “World Wide Web” and “log.” A log is a kind of regularly updated record or journal. Sea captains use logs to record their progress at sea. Pilots use them to record their flights.
Bloggers use them to record everything.
It is a strange and wonderful phenomenon. What is it all about? How it is changing society?
We don’t really know yet. But when historians look back on this era, they will look back on the meta-blog that is the blogosphere.