One reason blogs have flourished is that they sit comfortably at this divide between communication types: they partake of some of the characteristics of each, in proportions that vary depending on the style of the individual blogger. Some blogs are simply vehicles for conversation among friends. Some are exclusively public discourse. But many take advantage of blogs' potential to cross back and forth over this line. A post meant originally for a small circle of friends may "go viral" and catch the attention of millions; a broadside post from a public figure may spark a back-and-forth exchange in the comments. This mutability can be breathtakingly powerful; it can also be treacherous. Either way, whenever we observe an instance of it, we sense we are witnessing something that could only occur in this form, via this medium -- something uniquely bloggish.
Most blogs have some sort of audience, however tiny -- moms and beyond. Where do these readers come from? More often than not, they are other bloggers. Observers steeped in the values of the broadcast world identify this as a failure: Look, the only people who care what you're doing are already in your club! But in fact, as they say in the software industry, this reciprocity is not a bug at all -- it's a feature.
People who have no experience blogging often fail to understand the essentially social nature of the activity. Blogging is convivial. Bloggers commonly blog in groups, whether formally (as with our Salon bloggers) or simply through the haphazard accretion of casual connections. In these groups, what you contribute is obviously important; but so is where you choose to place your attention. Reading is as much a part of blogging as writing; listening is as important as speaking. This is what so many bloggers mean when they claim that "blogging is a conversation": not that each post sparks a vigorous exchange of comments, but that every post exists in a context of post-and-response that stretches across some patch of the Web, link by link, blog to blog.
Monday, July 06, 2009
Don't Count Bloggers Out Just Yet...
Salon has an excerpt from a new book call "Say Everything" by Scott Rosenberg. He talks about how Blogging has shown itself to be a remarkably pliable and resilient medium.