A Blogging Manifesto

Why bother keeping a blog? Everyone’s doing it, but I struggle with this humble blog–whether or not to post, what to post, analyzing my analytics, and questioning the worthiness of the endeavor. Why bother with posting your thoughts and reflections in public? Given all of the other things that we could be doing, why blog? I am at war with my old media self, that’s quite content to keep a journal that’s for my eyes only and new media self, who wants to embrace this not-so-new medium with more gusto. Given that context, here’s the argument in favor of blogging I’m working on:

1) Blogging is participatory; instead of consuming media, we’re producing it. While it’s challenging to systematically create time and space to make meaning about what we’ve read, heard, or watched blogs are not-so-new spaces where we can stop, think, act and share. Writing thoughts down and posting them encourages clearer thinking, exposes weak ideas and starts a conversation. Blogging makes learning public. It begins with passion for a topic, which leads to looking things up and before you know it, you’re engaging in a meaning-making activity. Looking up ideas, connecting them and sharing them is nothing new–we’ve been doing it since we could write, but it has never been easier than ever to discover something and share it. Sometimes the things we need to know maybe obscure, like say, how to append text to a file using Quicksilver on Mac OS X, but chances are, that thing you need to know is something that someone else needed to know too–and is only a Google search away.

2) Blogs are what economists call a positive externality. As the blogger, I’m the primary beneficiary–whatever my topic, whether it’s a book I’ve read, a reflection on an activity or a political rant, I’ve had to think about a topic, organize my thoughts and get them to the point where I feel comfortable sharing them with anyone in the world who’s interested. And then others benefit from whatever knowledge I’ve created. For example, one of my most popular posts is around a paper weekly planner I developed for triathlon training. I needed something that would help me plan and track what I did in a week, and then total those results. I created a template and then shared it here. I was the primary user of the document, but others benefited as well. I don’t pretend that the 100 or so downloads were earth shattering, but if I helped someone get better in some small way than I’ve met my goal.

3) I’m passionate about my pursuits–whether it’s technology, education, fitness, or the world around me–I am compelled to share those experiences. And the process of doing it makes the experiences richer.

4) It’s fun to see where you’ve been. The blog becomes a public artifact of your own experiences–a curated life portfolio and a place where you’re in control of what your public persona.

5) I’ve used blogs like 43 Folders, The Happiness Project and A Million Monkey’s Typing, and Lifehacker to explore new topics and have learned from those sites, so I want to contribute what I know and set an example for others who might be tentative to do the same

It used to be that everyone got 15 minutes of fame, on the internet, everyone is famous to 15 people. So in the spirit of learning together, I’m committing to more regular posts here on Wise Contradictions and inviting you to join in the conversation. What keeps you and your blog going or stops you from starting one? Sound off in the comments.



7 thoughts on “A Blogging Manifesto

  1. Jason Fox

    Nice post. Your comment that you are “at war with my old media self, that’s quite content to keep a journal that’s for my eyes only” is something that those of the “corporate” world need to consider especially.

  2. Anonymous

    Thanks Jason. I’m not giving up my old media anytime soon, but I’m definitely consuming it in different forms. Curious how tools like Kindle will further blur the lines between these worlds.

  3. Psyker

    I find myself wondering that as well. “Why bother doing this. There are other things I can be doing on this earth, in this moment.” But some time after those thoughts have been produced I come to realize something, much like what you’ve posted here. It all comes down to the pursuit of knowledge. One that I’ve resolved to follow. And it makes me happy to see that other are walking down that path as well. So in short, please keep walking. We all shall reach there some day and be forever changed because of it.

  4. Ted Bongiovanni

    Thanks Jonah – fortunately, the only person I have to convince is myself–but it’s been something of a hard sell. It occurs to me that there’s something very democratic about blogging–anyone can do it. I’m thinking about Andrew Keen’s argument http://britubes.blogspot.com/2007/09/elitist-vs-amatuers.html
    Reminds me a bit of the Samuel Johnson quote “No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.” What would Benkler say in response?

  5. Jonah

    I’m not sure if Benkler’s argument is focused as much on explaining motivation, as a forceful economic analysis of how sharing, especially in a networked age, creates value. He believes that people are motivated by other factors than just money, and he argues that, in a networked world, the side effect of these actions that are carried out for other reasons will have strong market value.
    “Human beings are, and always have been, diversely motivated beings. We act instrumentally, but also ioninstrumentally. We act for material gain, but also for psychological well-being and gratification, and for social connectedness. There is nothing new or earth-shattering about this, except perhaps to some economists.”
    A more direct response to Keen, who I think is arguing that stuff produced this way is mostly schlock, might be something like this:
    Namely, that while most of the stuff produced this way might be lousy, the est of the “blockhead’s” work is better than the stuff produced for under traditional financial arrangements. I think this counter-argument is largely convincing.


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