Why blog… and are you true to yourself in doing so?

Posted on October 30, 2010 by

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In blogs, I think we see various forms of motivation among the respective bloggers. I suppose that many initiate a blog to share something with others… or tell people something. It is an outlet… an opportunity to share opinions and/or information, and to express self. The blog can serve as a canvas, upon which the blogger can create a piece of art that is reflective of his/her perceptions… of something.

Yet, at what point can the outlet for expression turn into a stage for a performance? At what point does the writer/the blogger… lose track of self, and the reasons for which he/she began blogging in the first place? Now, I appreciate the fact that people change, and therefore, personal motivations for blogging may change. At what point, however, does the blogger change as the result of the readers? Consider this…

There was once a hypothesis held by a college student, that a professor’s movement within the classroom, as a lecturer, was dependent on the level of attention he was getting. To test this hypothesis, the student was able to recruit his classmates. As the professor moved in a certain direction in the classroom, the students would focus on writing, moving attention away from the professor. As the professor moved in another direction, students would show more interest, and raise their eyes from their notebooks, being much more attentive to the professor. In time, student’s realized the professor was, apparently, subconsciously rewarded for a particular behavior (moving in the particular direction that drew the attention of the students). As the professor was walking on a somewhat raised platform at the front of the class, this test proved a bit of a hazard, and eventually, the professor, paying more attention to the “rewarding” behavior of the students, lost attention of his physical space, and stumbled off the platform.

I think we can see parallels between this story and blogging. Sure, a group of people can conspire to regularly engage a blogger, with the intent of changing his/her presentations, perhaps even his/her position (and that might be fun, albeit it perhaps a little cruel), but that’s not the only reason for change at the hands of the readers. It can be self-induced. Some bloggers become fixed on the number of visits (while others might become fixed on the number of comments AND/OR number of visits) they receive. If they become too involved in monitoring numbers… and even to the point of tracking successful posts against those that appear to have flopped… there can be problems. At what point will a blogger change to write more in tune with the posts that have seen success? At which point, therefore, does the writer’s reaction to the reader change the writer?

Blogging is an entirely different animal than writing for print. Write an article for print, then try to monitor your numbers and assess the impact (perhaps even the effectiveness) of what you write (most especially, as discretely as what can be done in blogging). It’s hard to compare with blogging… so what are (can be) the consequences of moving from print to the Web, especially as one trained to write for print? I’m not saying that blogging is a bad thing. It’s just not print. It can require more of the writer… perhaps more self-diligence, more self-awareness, more self-discipline…

Who or what is driving your blog? Is it you… or is it your reactions to readers, and/or numbers, and/or drive for popularity?

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