02 August 2011


Bora Zivkovic in Scientific American online has written a thoughtful summary of the reasons why writers compose blogs, and the article is worth exploring. Since the advent of the Internet, blogs have proliferated ~ as of February 2011, there are over 156 million public blogs in existence. Sorting through them to find interesting and informative content is made a bit easier by understanding the writer's motives. Some reasons include ~

~ sharing world, national, or local news.

~ PR and marketing.

~ engendering political action.

~ sharing a personal diary.

~ sharing images (art, photography, photoshopped humor or satire.

~ documenting day-to-day scientific research.

~ providing a classroom tool for both teachers and students.

~ establishing a forum for communication with others.

~ doing outreach, e.g., science writers blogging for lay audiences.

~ provoking discussion of issues of interest.

Zivkovic notes several aspects of blogs which render them unique among media. For instance, "individuals' blogs are imbued with personality. This does not mean they need to reveal anything about their personal lives, nor even who they are, what they do, or where they live. But their personality shines from every sentence .... Personality breeds trust (yes ~ honesty, transparency, generosity with links, willingness to admit errors and other signs of humanness also contribute to trust, and they are also a part of the blogger's personality ~ those things tell you something important about the person). And the personality makes you come back for more, over and over .... You get to know the blogger over time, and with time your trust grows (or is diminished, in which case you abandon reading it and move on.)

"Blogging is writing without a safety net. You are on your own. Your work is all yours, and it rises and falls on its own merits. Nobody is fact-checking you before you publish, and nobody has your back after you publish ~ you are alone to defend your work against critics.

"Blogging is fast. Things get written and immediately posted.

"Critics are free to post comments (and bloggers are free to moderate their comments ~ those are their personal spaces, after all).

"Blog posts are not meant to be a final word on anything .... A blog post is supposed to cover a topic reasonably well .... But good bloggers know that, if they want to get comments and a vigorous discussion, they need to .... purposefully leave openings, leave stuff unfinished, some lines uncolored, there for the commentors to fill in with their own crayons.

"Very few bloggers focus narrowly on a single topic .... Most people have multiple interests, and even multiple areas of expertise. It is natural, if they are active online, that they cover a plethora of topics in their postings on their blogs or on social networks. Which is perfectly fine ~ their readers get an even fuller picture of the person, the personality, which helps them decide if they like or trust that person. It is also natural to comment on stuff one has no expertise on. Out of curiosity. Using a blog as a tool for exploration. Using a blog as a writing laboratory."

I like that last phrase ~ a writing laboratory. It encapsulates one of my personal reasons for having persisted in composing over a thousand entries in this blog, in just over three years. I aspire to write fiction. But no matter the writing genre, a prerequisite is developing the habit, the discipline to write mindfully, every day. Predatorhaven provides one forum for honing my skills, my understanding, my craft.

Like many blog writers, I also enjoy sharing discoveries which excite me ~ in science, in the arts. And I do confess to enjoying tossing out a verbal hand grenade on certain topics (politics, religion), to provoke a spirited discussion. A few of my regular readers respond, but in the form of emails or phone calls or posts on Facebook or Google+. Which is fine, I enjoy hearing from you. I also encourage you to post your responses using the "comments" prompt at the bottom of each post. It would be wonderful to spark spirited conversation threads, both for their own sake and to allow readers to become acquainted with each other.

My guidelines for comments are few and succinct. Write responsibly. Consider what you've written before you hit the "enter" button ~ is it accurate, relevant, and does it contribute to the understanding of the reader? No abusive comments will be tolerated or published. And that's about it. So far I've published every comment ever written, whether the reader agreed with my stance or not. I think that speaks volumes for the quality of my readers, don't you?

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