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Why Do This?

The problem with getting older is that short-term memory loss kicks in more often. Where was I again? Recently someone in my office at work asked me why I blog. It’s a good question. And I think this question will go around and around, and that there are not enough answers to this question, because everyone who blogs has his or her own thoughts on the subject.

First of all, it’s fun. Yes, fun. One’s definition of fun isn’t the same as another’s right? Perhaps you get your kicks playing with from electric trains, collecting ketchup bottle labels, watching old movies, playing chess, working out, raising raspboras, what-evah. This is one of many things I enjoy devoting time to doing.

Since I began this in July, what I learned is that serendipitous blog browsing is an interesting way to discover and learn about new people and ideas and information, no different fundamentally from browsing a library shelf or the contents of a magazine. Here the playing field is somewhat larger, however. See the links in the right hand column to other blogs? The NYC ones, for example, were discovered by randomly surfing through the nyc bloggers site.

Within the weblog world, there are so many ways to connect with other blogs that most of the time I don’t know it’s happening. Witness this recent entry by Chris Heilman, of which I was not aware until he posted a comment on my site. Note that he says he found my site through Waypath, yet another linking service of which I was – wait for it – not aware. Waypath is a fascinating concept in information gathering: “…an attempt to network the weblog community, connecting weblogs that share common themes, ideas, and topics

Another reason that became clear to me after a time is that it’s an outlet to be creative. I confess that most of my friends are better writers than I am (Derryl, Robert, Geoff, Keith, Stephen, Bill, the list is endless.) I cannot think of myself as a writer – scribbler of words, perhaps. But the point is, I can log in, and wri – er – scribble about anything on my mind, and in the process become a better scrib – er – ok, writer. So, yes, I have to say it, blogging is “another learning experience!” AGGHHH!!! And no, writing a blog isn’t the only way to create.

Examples of practical applications (as opposed to personal blogs like this one) are out there in many forms. In my work environment, examples include Science Blog and News.NanoApex. There are a number of library-related blogs, and I bow in Jessalyn’s direction, followed by Jenny and Peter, for example. You will notice that some subject blogs allow for comments and discussion, others don’t. There are no sets of rules on how to set up and run your blog.

Funny thing about blogs is how they parallel the world of science fiction fanzines, where the word fanzine was coined, btw. (Here’s an interesting take from 1959) As a zine publisher in the late 60s-mid 70s, I can tell you that there were different kinds of zine before that time, during that time, and right up to this time: genzines (general fanzines), perzines (personal zines), sercon zines (serious/constructive), crudzines (need no explanation), clubzines (ditto), apazines (APA: Amateur Press Association), and so on. In the blog world, you have genblogs, perblogs, and sercon blogs. But don’t quote me, please. Heaven forbid that these terms make it into the blog lexicon.

And I can’t resist this one: the term blog has existed in the sf fandom world for decades. One scribe wrote that the term “blog”, which means essentially a punch served with dry ice. Here’s a detailed explanation from this site:

A fannish drink, like bheer. The present version, we are told, is a punch, often served with dry ice. According to Fancy II, it has come to be used for all the indefinable concoctions of alcohol and other things usually too hideous to mention which go the rounds of fan clubs and conventions. It started with Liverpool Fandom, first as the supposed sponsor of their taped faanfiction play “The March of Slime,” then by hanging a “Drink Blog” sign at First Kettering (with the cooperation of the bartender); anyone who asked (including a few mundanes) was told they were “out” and didn’t expect the next shipment until the next day, but later the barman made up a mixture of cider and rum to sell. The first fan concoction to bear the name was eggflip, brandy, bits of Tia Maria, Beecham’s powder, aspirin, Benedictine, Alka-Seltzer, black currant juice, a touch of mustard and “other things” (The March of Slime took place in the mid-50s, so sf fandom has claim to word over bloggers by about 40+ years.)

I hestitate to say that another reason is to meet new people, because of the connotations, but in effect, you can and do meet fascinating people via their blogs, or others who may be interested in reading and commenting on your site but don’t host their own.

Consider also the simple beauty of the exchange and discovery of new information. You never know where that will lead.

And for me, Rule 1 of creating and maintaining a blog: assume that no one will ever read it. When someone does, it’s a small blessing.

Finally, Geoff and I will be writing an article about this. Stay tuned.

Conversation over.

4 Responses to “Why Do This?”

  1. Geoff Says:

    Waypath – that was also a new one for me. However, it is only a month old, so I don’t feel too bad.

    Nice entry on the serendipitous nature of the blog world. Oh, what a tangled web we weave. Hard to imagine life without the web, isn’t it? Especially now that we have grown accustomed (or enslaved) to it.

  2. Murph Says:

    Your writing is fine. Succint, interesting, keeps me going to the next line.

  3. Mike Says:

    Randy. Your connection to fanpubbing is a good take. Blogging is like amature press. A more recent thing I find it similar to is the BBS. The old DOS based text only kind. Now largely extinct I think. At one time, in Winnipeg, we had BBS’s in the hundreds. Up to about 500 in the mid-nineties.

  4. Alfvaen Says:

    I can’t really write it as if no-one will ever read it. Firstly, I know that my wife reads it, if nothing else, and secondly, it’s more fun if I pretend that I have a vast audience of lurkers who are intimately familiar with all of my previous posts, and to whom I can attribute highly unlikely levels of interest in my everyday doings. But maybe that’s just me.

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