So, what is a blog?

So after a week of research, reading articles, reading classmates’ posts, and looking at several blogs themselves (some I already read, and some I just started following a few days ago), I think I was looking at trying to find an answer the wrong way. I started out being so formal about the whole thing. I wanted to find ONE definition/answer of what a blog is and have all by questions to be able to be checked off and answered. How long do post need to be? How many pictures do you need? What is considered content of blogs? I realized that blogs are an ever-evolving thing and the minute you try to put blogs into a closed box/category, something changes so it bounces right out.

From Jill Rettberg, I learned that there can be categories of blogs: “filter, diary, and topic-driven blogging”. For me, I liked that you can organize what a blog is by its content, but it still wasn’t a definitive answer for what a blog IS.

To Travel the Great Beyond found a very interesting source by Jeff Jarvis that said “blogs are whatever they want to be”. There aren’t limits and boundaries to what can be considered a blog. The only limits created are created by you, which doesn’t mean those same rules apply to others.

I touched on this in my original post about blogging that blogs are their own entity. They can be whatever I want for my own purpose. The saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” rings true for blogs. What I consider to be “blog content” might look different to someone else. Perspective is huge in this matter.

While trying to answer the question “what is a blog?”, I took a new angle on my search which was “why do people blog?”

Madelyn Haasken found a good article summarizing why people blog. It shows the positives of blogging and could incentivize more people to become bloggers.

Rebecca Blood said,”I strongly believe in the power of weblogs to transform both writers and readers from ‘audience’ to ‘public’ and from ‘consumer’ to ‘creator’.” She saw blogging as a way for people to go from passively watching/reading to being able to participate.

From everything I read, common trends I noticed about blogs and bloggers were people want to feel connected/included, and people wanted to feel important. As humans, I think we all crave that feeling of being wanted and heard. People blog because they want to understand the world and they want to be understood. It’s a way for people to connect even if other barriers stand in the way (distance, language, etc.). Blogs are a personal platform where your thoughts can be turned into information for mass consumption. It can be a no pressure/judgment place to share anything you deem important to share.

 

More Info on Blogging

While doing some research about blogs and what bloggers do, I kept thinking about Blood’s article warning about what you read and write in blogs saying, “Their sarcasm and fearless commentary reminds us to question the vested interests of our sources of information and the expertise of individual reporters as they file news stories about subjects they may not fully understand.” I couldn’t stop thinking about that statement. As a teacher, I always talk about not taking everything you hear, read, or see as fact. It reminded me of the State farm commercial poking fun of people who read something on the Internet and accept it as the truth. This was an exaggeration of course, but it happens all the time. We read one article and the comments on it and most times see only one side. That does not mean that’s the only side. I’m thinking with blogging, where ANYONE can post about ANYTHING, we need to be both critical readers and writers. I think we need to be aware of personal bias.

I was also wondering about monetizing blogs, a way to get paid for your blog. While reading  7 Ways to monetize your blog, it made me think of how bloggers could make money. They can have ads, but other ways to generate money is by talking about their sponsors and/or products. I have been reading a few blogs for a few years and when they talk about a product, I always wonder “Do you actually like/use that product, or do you just need to plug it in to get paid?” While reading blogs, I’m now checking for ads or signs that the blogger is making money and what their sponsors are.

This led me further into looking up The Dangers of Blogging and there is a lot to keep in mind (some scarier than others). A few things I will be looking further into:

  1. Everything you post to the public can be seen, even if you delete it.
  2. When sharing your thoughts and opinions might not be the best idea.
  • We read about how Dooce’s blog posts got her fired from her job
  • Chris Moody was sued for sharing an article

(Again, these are told in the author’s point of view. Are we reading/knowing the whole story?)

  1. Know your rights. There are legal guides for bloggers to help with this. Do your homework to protect yourself.

Rettberg and Blood Readings

So, the question of the week: what makes a blog a blog. We all use the word blogs and have an idea what is being talked about when someone says blog, but there doesn’t seem to be a definitive answer. Wikipedia has it’s own definition of a blog as a “discussion or informational website published on the World Wide Web consisting of discrete, often informal diary-style text entries (“posts”). Posts are typically displayed in reverse chronological order, so that the most recent post appears first, at the top of the web page.” After readings from Blood and Rettberg, I don’t think this definition covers what a blog can be. In chapter one from Blogging by Jill Rettberg, she breaks blogs down into three categories: diary, filter, and topic driven blogs.

Diary blogs: like Dooce.com (which is hysterical by the way), are places where an author(s) can create and talk about anything, and usually they are the subject of their posts. They create snapshots into their life which they deem to be public information, unlike a diary where private moments are kept private.

Filter Blogs: like the name suggests, are blogs that filter information for the reader. These blogs are used to find certain information and links and give you comments on said links. An example from Rhettberg’s reading is Metafilter, which has links to articles, blogs, and websites, and the author’s opinion and/or summary of it.

Topic-driven blogs: Again like the name suggests, are blogs that usually chose a topic to focus on and to write about. For some reason, when I think of this type of blog, my first thought went to the term “mommy blogs”. “Mommy blogs” like Mommy A to Z focus on parenting: tips, tricks, advice, and a place where people can share their experiences with kids and parenting. You don’t need to be an expert; it’s where people who share certain interests or hobbies can have a platform dedicated to it.

To me, this still doesn’t necessarily explain what a blog can entail. What is the blog in general? I think it’s more than just the different kinds of posts. I connected to Rettberg’s description that “blogs are not a genre, but a medium”. It’s not limited by the categories within them and it is not a category of something else. Blogs are their own entity.

I thought Rebecca Blood shed some light on what blogs are. She writes that the term blog was coined after “Peter Merholz announced in early 1999 that he was going to pronounce it ‘wee-blog’ and inevitably this was shortened to ‘blog’ with the weblog editor referred to as a ‘blogger’.” Did anyone else think about the word WE while reading that? It makes me think of something anyone and everyone is included in while still being a part of some exclusive club. From what I gleamed off the reading, blogs are a sense of belonging. They are a way for people to participate in “the outside world” and/or “their own world”.

 

 

Setting up my blog

I don’t know about you, but I have never been very good with technology. I was the girl in middle school, who cried when all the other kids would use Powerpoint for their presentation, and I was the only one who made a poster board presentation. I was the last student in my high school graduating class to join Facebook, and I still don’t know how to download messenger. I think part of my problem is that when I don’t just instinctively know how to do something, I panic! I hate that feeling of not understanding something, especially when everyone around me seems to “just get it”. I will be very honest when I was reading through the WordPress manual, the first few times, I thought I was reading another language. I probably read what widgets are ten times, before I finally kind of understand what they are. I “created” this blog and knew nothing about it. I will say that after some patience and re-reading, I started to “get it” a little. Once I knew what a widget was and how to organize them, I saw that my blog was starting to take on my personality. I like neat lines and things to be organized, and I think my blog reflects that. I learned, by accident, how to upload your own photos, so I posted one of my fiancé and I from this fall. I liked my blog’s theme, but I didn’t like the default picture. After some trial and error, I figured out how to change them and I think it looks better. Also, as I’m typing this, I think I have figured out how to post on my blog! There are some things I still don’t quite get. I understand why we want to put things in categories to keep them organized, but I’m not sure how tags are different. I read about the permalinks, and am still not sure what that really does either. One big thing that I don’t understand is every time I am editing my blog, it brings me to a new tab, and by the time I’m done, I have twelve tabs opened!? Is there a way that I can just work on one tab and it not disappearing? I bookmarked my blog, but it still is happening.