"Wealth will increasingly be defined by our ability to go offline whenever we want." - Fernando Gros
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Blog // Thoughts
March 31, 2008

What Do You Do With Blogs?

Here’s an idea I’ve been kicking around for a while, WHAT DO WE DO WITH BLOGS? I’ve put in loud all-caps for a reason. This week I’ve been watching Merlin Mann’s talk “Time burglars, attention sinks & bear traps or “Why does my email make me cry?”” (you can find it on Itunes via iTunesU>Duke>Campus>News […]

Here’s an idea I’ve been kicking around for a while,

WHAT DO WE DO WITH BLOGS?

I’ve put in loud all-caps for a reason. This week I’ve been watching Merlin Mann’s talk “Time burglars, attention sinks & bear traps or “Why does my email make me cry?”” (you can find it on Itunes via iTunesU>Duke>Campus>News and Communications). In the talk Merlin covers the usual GTD and Inbox Zero stuff. In amongst that he poses what is perhaps the critical question for not just for knowledge workers but for all of us trying to stay afloat in the media age.

WHAT DO WE DO WITH ALL THIS STUFF?

Well, he didn’t quite put it that way, but that’s close enough. What do we do with all the things that come across our desks, that come in the mail, that land in our inbox (real or virtual). We live with a superabundance of information. When I was a kid, it was hard, really hard to get information on things like music gear (or computers, or remote control cars or sports equipment). You had to beg, borrow or steal catalogues and some storeowners simply made it their business to keep customers in the dark (and far away from the cutting edge!). These days, it’s hard to filter the information that is available. That’s to say nothing of the information we can subscribe to, that will just keep piling up on us.

Which brings me back to the question of what we do about blogs. One thing I realise is that I’m becoming quite proficient at filtering things that have an obviously “professional” bent. Give me a music magazine or photography and I’ll do an OK job of assessing what is useful. I keep little and throw out a lot. But with blogs it’s a whole other story.

I’ve been culling the number of blogs I read on a regular basis for a while now. I used to scan hundreds of them, but now the list is so short I can recite it (which feels kinda “normal”). It’s easy to say that blog-reading contributes to some vague notion of “conversation” or builds up one’s general thinking. But does it? Really?

It’s not an issue where I have a lot of answers or suggestions. I’ve moved through realising how inefficient blogging can be (not that efficiency should always be worshipped). I’m now wondering about how blogging connects with activity in the world – with doing.

Responses
wess 15 years ago

Good stuff Fernando, I’m right there with you on these questions. Ever since our daughter was born I’ve been rethinking a lot of this, including the usefulness of my own blogging. I found I had a ton of blogs in my reader I was never excited to actually read, so that was one thing that helped me cut down. And now I try to keep my blog reading fairly “professional” in that I’m reading people who are sharing ideas about things I’m interested in but may not be well versed in. I guess it’s a way of stretching my own vocabulary etc. But I could take more out, I can’t recite them all exactly but I think I’m close.

And to be honest I’m not really sure what the usefulness of blogging is at the moment. I know I still enjoy doing it on occasion but I’m cutting back. I’ve decided to only blog when something really strikes me or inspires me. I found I was blogging because I felt like I needed to, in order to keep readers, to keep up traffic, to build my image or whatever. All really bad reasons. Anyways, here’s to figuring this stuff out.

Fernando Gros 15 years ago

One of the challenges I constantly bump against is that I find it hard and unsatisfying to generate content specifically for the blog. Movie reviews come kind of easy I guess. But when I try to write extended books reviews, theological essays, or music equipment commentary I hit a wall. It’s kind of crazy, because I have little difficulty writing these for other contexts.

Maybe we (as in bloggers) are at a stage of transition? Perhaps the future will hold formats that are more productive, whilst retaining the openness and freedom of blogging? I can’t help but feel that blogging is dying. At the confessional level we have Facebook (et al) that handle the quotidian stuff better (IMO) than blogs).

Randall 15 years ago

Yeah, blogging is shifting, changing and I agree that the old days of blogging are dying out.

It really isn’t conversation any longer and I wonder where it goes.

I used to think, and for some people it really is, a place like a porthole where you trust the links of the blog you read, so you use it more as a place to sift good links.

And other blogs are for writers to explore their craft.

But the general blogdom is changing.

I am curious to see where it goes.

Fernando Gros 15 years ago

I wonder whether the single author format is a natural limit to the conversation thing?

One trend we’ve been seeing for a while is the growth of magazine-like multi-author blogs and the like. Certainly these still attract good volumes of comment and occasionally feel conversational

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