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Susan Ito trying to do it all: reading writing mothering spousing daughtering working living

Saturday, February 18, 2006

What is the Point of Blogs?

A friend of mine recently wrote, "I still think I don't get the concept of blogs but I so enjoy yours." What is the concept of blogs??

Blogs, and blogging, seemed very otherworldly to me a year ago. I knew a few friends of mine wrote them, but I, like my friend, didn't really "get it." But then I started regularly reading Christine's blog. I didn't know her very well then. Suddenly, by reading her blog, I felt so much closer to her. I got to know her cute dogs. I followed her around on her wonderful vacations. And somehow by reading her blog posts, and responding to them, I felt that she morphed from an acquaintance into a friend.

And after visiting a writers' conference in a different capacity than I had before last summer, suddenly I wanted to share about that experience. I didn't want to write a bunch of emails to people. So I started this blog. It began a little tentatively. But then when I went away to Blue Mountain, it was a way to stay in touch, to show everyone where I was and what I was doing. I wanted to be alone, but not that alone.

It's been a wonderful thing so far. Many people say "I don't have time to blog," but I'm finding that the fifteen minutes or so (often less) that it takes to write a post, is a really good warmup to other writing. It's writing. It gets me thinking about things. And I love the comments. I love receiving responses and having other people join in on the conversation. I get to share about things that are meaningful (or interesting, or silly) and people - sometimes people in other parts of the world - make a connection to that.

I now have a blog-meter that tells me not who reads my blogs (I still don't know that) but where they are coming from. In the last few weeks, I've had people reading this blog from Seoul, Toronto, Madrid, Clay Center, Kansas, and Gibson, Tennessee. I think that's really kind of cool.

I think that for the most part, the people who read my blog are other bloggers. This week I sent an email out to various far-flung friends, people I hadn't been in recent touch with, and included a link to this blog. One of my old high school friends not only read it, but started his own blog last night. It was thrilling to see photos of his beautiful kids, to read a poem his son had written, and to share in something that made him cry: Shostakovich.

We're all so busy and overscheduled these days. I don't know if blogging is yet another thing on the to-do list, or an antidote to the rushing about. I think it's a way of stopping for a few minutes, and making a connection.

So, I'm asking all of you: Why do you read blogs? Why do you write one? (if you do) What is the point? What is the concept?


Anonymous wendy said...

hey susan,
you answered that question pretty perfectly. I now do understand why you blog. And how that connects you to people you've known well or not over many years.

so now I'll ask this: How do you blog so well, it is public after all, in a mere fifteen minutes. Yours was the first blog I read, personal not purely political, and I'm wondering now just HOW you go about it.

for example, I write out posts on tt but never edit them, pretty much ditto: re my posts in other places. It's almost anonymous and I use say free writes on an online group, as therapy or as funny or not at all funny, but since I know there are only 5 other potential readers I also can skip spelling, grammar etc. Just let it go, whatever the IT is.

but I see yours and others personal blogs as being chiseled, better written than 'on the fly' which seems like it would take an hour, however long, to get it grammatically and spiritually correct. Not so? Or does blogger itself correct yr mistakes.

Do you feel more self-conscious about these readability things than say when free writing? Curious about that, not that you have to give another blog over to my queries... all love wendy in santa m. over jetlag but fearing to get to the cold of NYC... PS

and why do all blogs seem to require compying nonsensicle letters, which I often get wrong on this not my own computer?

Saturday, February 18, 2006 11:44:00 AM

Blogger Susan said...

Wendy, my blogging is much like my freewriting. It's not chiseled, and yes I write them in about fifteen minutes or less, although I do spend some time finding a good image to illustrate with - it's one of my favorite parts! Google is fun for that. Re the grammar, I am pretty good with that on the fly. And I don't feel all that self-conscious, although I do know that I limit myself to some degree. I don't write about the most personal stuff. I don't post photos of myself in my underwear (horrors!). I shift myself over, somehow in my head, to a more "public" voice. I don't say anything that I wouldn't, say, imagine myself saying to my students in my class. (because who knows, some of them could always Google me and find the blog)

And re the nonsensical letters thing, believe it or not there are these blog-comment SPAMMERS out there; some software that will just randomly post comments, and then when you click on them, they lead to some stupid thing they want to sell. It's all automatic. So one way to assure that a real live human is posting is to require them to type in those words. The blog-spammers say really complimentary things, like, "I love your blog. You have important things to say!" and then when you click on their name it leads you to some online pharmacy or penis-enlargment site. It's awful. So that's why.

Saturday, February 18, 2006 11:56:00 AM

Blogger Susan said...

Oh, I had one more thought about why I like blogging to "announce" things or share stuff. Because in contrast to a group email where everyone HAS to read your stuff, this place is purely optional. People can visit if they want to, read what they want to, and comment or not. I like that.

Saturday, February 18, 2006 11:58:00 AM

Blogger Bustopher Jones said...

That is a great question, Susan, Why Blog? I started my blog because I felt very strongly about something one day (almost getting hit by an SUV when it drove through Starbucks) and I felt the need to vent and I liked the idea of posting it where lots of people could read it rather than just e-mailing an account of what happened to one or two friends. I like that I can refer people to my blog to look at photos or read about events rather than typing it all over for them. I also like reading other blogs. I am not all that interested in reading random blogs, though; I just like to read my friends' blogs to see what is going on with them and what they are thinking, etc. It's fun, it's a way to vent, it's a way to stay connected, to reconnect with old friends, etc. What I am not all that interested in is trying to build a big readership. If I wanted that, I would start a theme-based blog.

Saturday, February 18, 2006 1:08:00 PM

Blogger Allison said...

susan, i too was inspired to blog after reading christine's. actually it was RP that got me thinking about it and then reading yours and her's and mel's. seemed like a fun way to write without worry (where the best writing seems to come) while also sharing what's going on in my world. it's been a great way to get to know people better too as you said, i feel much closer to you all now with this kind of exchange we have going.

Saturday, February 18, 2006 8:51:00 PM

Blogger expatmama said...

Hi Susan! I started my blog in part to keep my far-away family and friends up to date on my life, especially on what the kids are doing. But I never wanted to limit myself to that, a "mommy blog." In fact, my first post was a semi-rant about a xenofobic banner hung by a local far-right political group here. I like having a place to express myself and communicate with other bloggers and friends, and it's good writing practice. And I like to feel like I have an audience, even if it is a small one. Now I often find myself composing blog posts in my head when I'm away from the computer (whether or not I actually get around to posting them is another story) and sometimes I feel like I'm experiencing life through the lens of "what can I say about this on my blog?" which is kind of weird. And now that I'm so into blogging, I usually blog stuff rather than freewrite it, which has its disadvantages, as I don't go as deep in the blog, and there is stuff I won't blog about. Still, I love the community aspect of it, the feedback, the friendship, the ability to exchange ideas with other bloggers and commenters, and the fact that it's a relatively quick and easy way to get some writing practice.

So, those are my reasons!

Saturday, February 18, 2006 11:45:00 PM

Blogger Susan said...

expatmama, I find myself blogging in my head sometimes too. But I also write fiction in my head, often describing scenes as I pass through them. I think it's just one of the strange things that happens to a writer's brain.

Sunday, February 19, 2006 8:58:00 AM

Blogger C(h)ristine said...

Very good question--I wonder how many graduate sociology theses are being written about this! At first, i couldn't tell you my reason, it was a compulsion (I'd been blogging since 1998)...but now I know it's a yearning for connection with the universe, at least generally speaking! And many times, I've made connections with individuals, new people, and people I've lost touch with, and even famous authors stopping by my blog to say hi (EVERYONE googles their own name!).

Thank you for the shout out, Susan. See? We made a connection in the internet space that we couldn't make in the "real world!" For that reason alone, I love blogging.

Monday, February 20, 2006 6:30:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

susan, I read your blog and love it! It's satisfying like a piece of bittersweet chocolate. It makes me feel connected to you. You choose these great insights, ideas,images, and whisper them in my ear and I giggle or swoon or get misty.


ok I do not know my id on blogger....nor how to retrieve it.

Monday, February 20, 2006 8:00:00 PM

Blogger Susan said...

Leah, thank you so much for those words!

And Christine - you are truly a pioneer blogger. I had no clue what a blog was in 1998.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006 9:21:00 AM

Blogger Scribbling Mama said...

Susan, I enjoyed reading your thoughts about why you blog. They helped keep me motivated about writing my blog. I started it a few months ago because squirreling my thoughts away in my journal suddenly seemed so futile after losing almost all of the journals I had written when our home flooded during Katrina. I felt a tremendous need to do something with all the thoughts I was having and saw it as a form of self-publishing. I don't have much time to work on really publishing anything (I'm an English professor and I'm supposed to be teaching and writing scholarship), but blogging is a way to get some stuff "out there." I came to it through the literarymama site and was inspired by all of the mommybloggers out there, like yourself.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006 10:34:00 AM

Blogger melanie said...

I've been so touched by the blogs I've read just by randomly searching blogger - people sharing about a neighbor/friend who committed suicide, another about recovering from a spinal cord injury. I was moved, I couldn't believe that anyone could be so open on cyberspace. But it also made me feel ok about being vulnerable myself.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006 9:09:00 PM


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