Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
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Monday, August 15, 2005

A ramble about blogging

I was reading T. Scott Plutchak's editorial 'I See Blog People' in the latest JMLA and came across a reference to Blog Overkill: The danger of hyping a good thing into the ground by Jack Schafer.

I have to admit, I'm interested in blogs. Not just because I have one, but rather it's the sociologist in me (I tend to forget that I have a degree in sociology, but you can't take the social scientist out of me). I'm interested in cyberculture and the communities that bloggers create in particular. I don't expect blogs to bring about the collapse of traditional media, but they do provide an interesting alternative--assuming you can really get past the sheer number of blogs to find what you want to know. Shafer reminds us of the public-access stations that will show most anything someone with a videorecorder shot, only to transmit to a few (if any) insomniacs who choose it over shopping TV and infomercials. With all they hype, blogging could be the next videotape rather than a revolution in journalism.

Still, there are some attempts being made, such as BNN, to marry the instant coverage of blogging with the more traditional media's standards. I'm glad to be a part of that. But on the other hand, I don't consider myself a journalist. I don't have the credentials.

Still, that wouldn't stop me from blogging my opinion or even the news as I see it, because, well, it's a completely natural thing to do, to comment on the world around you. We do it everyday over lunch or around the water cooler, after all. Blogging is like a great big water cooler where anyone can voice an opinion or bring up a topic of conversation. That's part of its magic--but it has a more far-reaching aspect. Sometimes the person brings up things that are uncomfortable that you'd rather just skip over and change the subject, mainly because there's not the automatic censure you'd have in a small group. Sometimes it's more gossipy than anything else. Sometimes it just isn't expressed well enough to fool with. But in with all of it are some really gems of expression and bits of news or lines of thinking that you just never really considered, and that holds great appeal for me. But most of all, every blogger is a character, and by reading blogs and blogging yourself you get this huge bowl of people soup that taken as a whole helps show the many facets of human nature. It's the ultimate human interest aspect that journalism sometimes loses in concentrating on the big picture.

I do consider myself a writer, which I've proven over nearly four years of posting that I've written thousands of posts and even garnered a readership (thank you all very much). In the back of my mind, I read like a writer. Every blogger or person blogged about that becomes part of a palette I can use to create new characters in my storytelling. That's not what I write here, of course, but I'm often churning with new ideas for fiction. I've never really consciously realised it until now, but just as the Internet is a font of information (some good, some not), it's also a wonderful zoo of humanity the study of which which can help us understand ourselves and others. Blogs represent the cages, or perhaps better, the free open spaces of natural habitat in the zoo. And the thing is, I'm one of those people being looked at, safe in my own environment but looking back at all the rest.

I've had people I didn't know come up to me and ask me if I'm the Rabid Librarian, and that's a strange and yet somehow satisfying feeling [until I remember just what sorts of personal things I put on this site, then I usually shrug off any bit of fame and replace it with a little embarrassment instead, until I remember that I stand by all I write, it's a part of me, and not so much deserving of embarrassment...well, most of it, anyway. :)] But there is a sense of being part of a community that comes from that conversation. The world seems a little smaller and more personal as a result. And that, oddly enough, may be the antidote to the overwhelming aspects of blogging, right?

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