TECH TALK: Blogging: Writing A New Web (Part 4)

Not everyone is thrilled about the proliferating blogs. A counter-viewpoint came from John Dvorak writing in PC Magazine. He commented on the possible reasons for blogging:

Ego gratification. Some people need to be the center of attention. It makes them feel good about themselves to tell the world what important things they’ve been doing and what profound thoughts they’ve been having. Curiously, while this looks like the most obvious reason for a Web log, I think it’s probably the least likely reason, since it’s too trite and shallow.

Antidepersonalization. When people begin to think that they are nothing more than a cog in the wheel of society, they look for any way to differentiate themselves. The Web log proves they are different. Just read it. You’ll see.

Elimination of frustration. Day-to-day life, especially in the city, is wrought with frustration, and the Web log gives people the ability to complain to the world. You get to read a lot of complaining in these logs. If you think I’m a complainer, oh boy!

Societal need to share. As a cynic who gets paid to write, I have a hard time with this explanation. But it seems some people genuinely like to “share,” and this is one way.

Wanna-be writers. A lot of people want to be published writers. Blogs make it happen without the hassle of getting someone else to do it or having to write well-although there is good writing to be found. Some is shockingly good. Most of it is miserable. I expect to see those Open Learning classes around the country offering courses in Blog writing.

An extract from a recent article by Farhad Manjoo article provides a response by Dave Winer of Userland and looks ahead:

Dave Winer disagreed vehemently with Dvorak’s assessment of the state of blogging. Winer thinks that critics like Dvorak are “professional, ink-stained journalists who are scared by what we’re doing here. We cover technology better than they ever could.”

He rejects the idea that many blogs are boring or that they’re no longer chic. “The Web doesn’t go out of fashion,” he said.

Winer added that the technology behind weblogging still needs to get significantly easier for the real talent to come online. “What I’m interested in is the doctors and professors and engineers and people who have a good education and a social area of expertise. We need to really reach those people, we have to go a couple of levels in terms of ease-of-use.”

Winer is also interested in getting blogging into companies. He thinks that workgroups in firms would benefit from a log instead of e-mail, because it’s searchable and collaborative, allowing people to “narrate (their) work.”

Like the time when Geocities and other sites made the creation of home pages easier and it seemed that just about everyone wanted to have a home page, blogging will also go through this phase. And out of this will emerge gems – blogs which genuinely influence and make a difference. Writes Dylan Tweney in Business 2.0:

In time most weblogs will probably disappear. Like Tamagotchis, many are just techie toys that confer some short-term prestige but require lots of care and feeding over the long run. Weblogs that aren’t updated every day quickly lose their audiences; keeping your blog fresh and relevant takes a lot of work. (Trust me on this one — I ran a weblog from 1999 to 2000 but discontinued it when I realized I was spending hours every day working on the thing.)

But within specific niches, some weblogs will continue to attract large, highly focused audiences, thanks to the thoroughness of their coverage or the strong personalities of their authors. That means your morning reading may soon include a few weblogs along with the New York Times and Wall Street Journal — if it doesn’t already.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.