Monday, October 04, 2004

Assignment : Blogs


The common thread I found in many a blog I came across this week, is that of inactivity. It seems that the usual pattern is to start a blog, keep it religiously for a while, then stop. I went looking for blogs based on topic, and found many of them inactive, or not frequently posted to.

But some are posting, or have been posting regularly for years. I found the motive for blogs to be fairly scattered. The five blogs I am choosing to report have owners whose motives are as divers as they are.

Shrub Bloggers

I have an old friend who has been keeping a blog for over a year. I met him almost a decade ago, and came across his blog about a year ago. I drop in every once in a while, and thought that this assignment would be a good excuse to do so again. I found him still plowing his way though life, and documenting it all on the web.

His only post for this week happened to be about a Malaysian restaurant. He described two of them actually, one which was not that impressive, another that was. He went on and on about the menu, the items, how there was a misunderstanding with his friend about the level of excellence between the two restaurants, etc. etc. etc. I have never eaten at a Malaysian restaurant, and am not sure I have ever eaten any Malaysian food. But his passion about the subject makes me want to try it. This may be part of the appeal of blogs. When somebody is passionate about something, you can't help but wonder what you are missing. My friend is very good at explaining his passions in life, and it makes me want to expand my horizons. Here I am, over 30 and I don't know the wonders of Malaysian cuisine. Gotta try it.

My friend also has a ring of friends. He links to them, they link to him. I would be willing to bet they also read and comment on each other's blogs. A ring of friends who have found a way to communicate online, and are willing to let the world be an audience.


I have read slashdot on and off for a while. I guess maybe not really read it, just kept hearing about it. I would drop by and think, "What is this?

This week I read it faithfully on my RSS, sometimes 4-5 times a day. I found it interesting and informative until I started reading the replies to the posts themselves. Then I found it interesting, informative, and sometimes downright hilarious. The wit of connected people, I believe, is the sharpest in the world.

What I found most interesting is that so many of the topics are interesting to me. You can't really lump them into one topic, such as technology, or current events. But it seems the themes are what I'm interested in. Their was a piece on Independent Video games. I downloaded a few of them to try out. There were many stories on the X-Prize, something I've followed for almost 2 years. Open source was another dominant theme, several book reviews I found interesting, and of course a few star-wars stories thrown in for good measure. Of all the blogs I followed this week, Slashdot will certainly stay on my RSS.

Jeff Boulter’s Weblog

I followed this blog just beacuse he seemed to be writing about GPS, something I've found interesting lately. His blog was not updated very frequently, however, and I suspect he is a good example of a normal blog out there. He write once or twice a week, it is more the journal style rather than commenting on his web travels. I read into the archives a bit, but there was nothing amazing. I include his blog only because I think this is a good representation of a many blogs out there.

John Kerry’s Blog

George Bush’s Blog

My major was in Political Science, and I have been enjoying the election coverage. I thought it would be interesting to follow the blogs of the two major candidates. I was wrong. They were boring, bias, hateful, full of spin, and said nothing at all interesting; the blogs were the same way. ;) I dare say I could go to almost any discussion board and find more interesting, witty, and insightful comments about the current political climate..

Which brings up an interesting point. We have a medium out there that is breaking into the mainstream. It's popular because it's a different voice. Blogs were influential in bringing to light the recent CBS forged documents scandal. Blogs are not news that corporations want to give us, it's news that people themselves find interesting. When somebody posts to slashdot, it's news that affects them. When posts something, I may or may find it relevant to me. Corporations are run for profit, and must report the news accordingly. Blogs are done for different reasons.

So Kerry and Bush have jumped on the medium, but I don't find their blogs nearly as interesting. It is news that some committee somewhere wants to get out. It's coordinated spin. That is not what makes blogs interesting. I found more passion in the one post about the Malaysian restaurant than I did in the entire weeks of the candidate's blog.

Then again, I may just be burned out on the rhetoric.

Either way, I enjoyed the assignment.


David said...

Interesting set of blogs. Your thoughts about the culture of blogs are interesting too. The phenomenon of people starting and quiting is too bad, but too true. (Hopefully your blog won't fall into this category!) The way people link back and forth to each other is also, I think, important. Have you considered linking to others from your blog?

bhchia said...


your first point is the Achilles heel of blogging. we all know blogs are increasing everyday by the hundreds. But how many blogs are actually USEFUL, and CONTINUED?

even for the personal kitty blogs... the death rate is in the hundreds of thousands... many don't survive beyond the inital fun/hype.

With so many lousy blogs out there (mine's weak too... despite my efforts) when will be the day where we drown ourselves in this sea of useless blogs?

Keep up the interesting posts...