An Idle Mind is a Blogger (published in TradeExpress Asia, Manila)
Posted July 25, 2007on:
I don’t know quite when, but somewhere in the past couple of years the words “blog” and “blogging” silently tiptoed into my net consciousness. Initially it occupied only the fringes of my attention and I never spared it much thought as Chat held center stage and encompassed my cyber existence. But as time progressed its knockings at my senses became stronger and stronger as the word would pop up in all sorts of contexts – chat conversations, web sites, and even newspaper articles! Still the sound of the words “Blog” and “Blogging” evoked slightly unpleasant images for me, as the words “internet” and “cyber cafe” once had, and “computer” further down memory lane. I saw something of a cyber yuppie – jovial, well adjusted, deathly pale, bespectacled, smiley toting (a completely personal peeve) – huddled over the computer typing away frantically – someone I did not want to be. But as all changes assert themselves, the old must yield to the new, the cycle of life must go on etc., once “computer hater” turned “net junkie” became “blogger” and soon “compulsive blogger” <ear to ear grin smiley>. (I’ve learnt there is no better short hand for human emotions than chat smileys).
Having progressed well into the article, this is no point where to introduce the term blog, as the assumption was that everybody knows what it means, and indeed it would be blasphemous not to know. But for the benefit of those that us net savvy geeks consider as barbarians <suave expression glint in goggles smiley>, the term “blog” has been derived from “web log” and is simply a personal web space which acts as a journal, which can be frequently updated, allowing the user to add audio/video/text/links or a combination.
People have always liked to scribble down their thoughts, impressions, daily experiences, inner musings etc but most of these outpourings went into personal diaries and only a select few – columnists, writers, famous people – ever had an audience for thier writings. But with the advent of the internet revolution anybody who is willing to put their thoughts on public display on a blog, has the vast ocean of people on the net as a possible audience (that nobody might be interested enough to come read your blog is another story). This enormous possibility of access to a vast sea of people who are just a click away from your thoughts makes blogging a big business. Popular topical blogs like TechCrunch, Gizmodo on a variety of subjects like web technologies, politics, celebrity etc attract millions of viewers per month and generate hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in revenue. Blogging has also become an alternate PR activity for companies, politicians, celebrities, and musicians who want to keep in touch with their end audiences.
Blogging has come a long way in the last ten years. From a handful of what can be compared to modern blogs in the mid nineties, to an estimated 60 million blogs (staggering!!) today. The trickle turned into a torrent with the coming of software tools around the turn of the century which allowed lay users to create their own blogs. The writing itch seems to have become a global pandemic with an estimated doubling in the size of the blogging brigade every 6 months. This popularity of blogging has spurned a whole new breed of businesses that have been built around blogging such as blogging tools, blogging sites, blog search engines, blog statisticians, and even blogging news! Mind blogging isn’t it??…err…boggling.
So why the spate of bloggers? Why are even flamboyant cowboys, the perennial outdoor type, crowding around computers (much to the disgust of the steed) to share their inner emotions with the world? What is it that has made cowboy go geek? What does one get out of blogging? What??
Apart from the universal driving force behind all human endeavor, “to impress members of the opposite gender”, a few other reasons can be offered. Considering the number of people who blog, it turns out that most people have always had a dormant writer inside, and the prospect of writing for an audience rather than for crumbling yellowed pages of a dusty diary, shook this limelight loving inner-tolstoy out of his slumber. At the core a blogger’s impulse is the same as a writer’s impulse – a desire to share the inner world, ones perception of life, to enrich and clarify ones own thoughts in the act of writing, to unload a psychological weight (a personal favorite), and a little bit of “escribitionisim”.
One phrase that swims around in my head (and finally an oppurtunity has presented itself to unload it) is “A blog always listens”. For those of who always had some deep insights to share (we think), but had to swallow their words because of some loudmouth friend always had a how-i-slayed-the-dragon-and-saved-the-princess tale to recount, blogs are heaven sent. A blog is where you talk for a change while others listen, and if they want to react/respond to your thoughts, they can do so in the form of polite comments to your blog post AFTER you have finished. Another thing that characterizes blog writing is a lack of structure. A blog is a book where one is writer and as well as publisher, a newspaper where one is editor, a newspaper called Me Times (or Myself Daily). Imagine the freedom!! No structures to be tied down by, no popular appetite to satiate, no toes to avoid stepping on, and no commas and full stops to pull you down from glorious literary flights! Language, grammar, literary form, structure, thoughts, expressions, emotions are one’s instruments to be orchestrated and abused at whim. One can be a cosmically self indulgent artist.
I must sheepishly admit that in the past year most of my reading comprises blogs of friends or friends of friends and so on. And I certainly don’t feel at that much of a loss, as I have been enthralled, amused, charmed, fulfilled and inspired by many of these writings on topics ranging from being pulled up a tree branch by a friend(???), an excursion with a son, amorous escapades (blush), tracking a homicidal maniac (!!!), to personal impressions on nuances and shades of life like human masks, the joy of writing, love, politics etc. Styles range from lyrical to in-your-face, eloquent to conversational, witty to lamentatious, bad to good!! Some people have really made this new literary form their own.
The Blogwagon is admitting passengers, Hop On. You don’t want to be the last kid on the block with a blog.