Living in the Blog-osphere (Newsweek)

Though I was interviewed for this article—by e-mail and by phone—I don’t appear. Paul pointed out that they did mention my Golden Girls blog, though (it’s part of the “dark matter”!). Oh well… at least Barbara was quoted!

Anyway… thoughts on the article itself: it’s alright. With a number of researchers working on the story, I thought it might go beyond the typical “Introduction to Blogging” article the mainstream press has been echoing over and over the past six months. But, it doesn’t. And I guess that’s OK, as long as Newsweek follows up later with a more in-depth look at blogging and its possibilities.

I’ve posted the e-mail portion of the interview, so feel free to click through and read my semi-coherent take on blogging.

When did you start blogging?

I first dipped my toe in the blogging pool in April of 2000, but
started my current personal blog in July of 2000 and have been going
strong ever since. :) I actually have a number of blogs, but “twist
of fait accomplis” (laze.net/fait/) is the main one… one of the
other one that gets a lot of my attention is the Veg Blog
(www.vegblog.org), a blog about vegetarianism. I somewhat ashamedly
admit that I even have a blog about the Golden Girls. ;)

I’ve had a personal web site much longer than my blog, though, dating
back to December 1994 when I was a freshman in college.

How often do you blog?

Daily (or more), though I tend to take the weekends off, limiting
myself to the occasional e-mail check.

Do you worry about unintended people reading what you post?

I try not to write anything that I wouldn’t mind a.) a total stranger,
b.) someone from my work, or c.) my mom reading. And that’s a good
thing, because all three of those read my blog. :)

Do your friends blog? Do you read each other’s blogs?

A few of my “real world” friends blog, yes, and we’re all linked up
to each other and read each others’ regularly. It’s a way of keeping
in touch, even if it is in a more public forum than e-mail or on the
phone. It’s kind of like getting together in a restaurant with a
group of friends: smaller groups will have conversations amongst
themselves, those groups will change and morph a bit over the course
of a meal, and some people from outside the group will inevitably
listen in.

Have you ever had any private stuff posted that wound up getting
“public” in an unintened way — for example, you wrote something about someone and then they read about it online?

Anything I post to my website, I try to consider that it’s likely to
be read by the person I wrote about. I’ve never posted anything that
would hurt or really embarrass another person, but I think that comes
down to the type of personality you have more than anything… if
you’re the type to talk behind people’s backs, you’ll be just as
likely to mention something in your blog that someone else might
consider private.

What blogs do you read or admire?

I think when Mena Trott started dollarshort.org early last year, it
was one of the best blogs I’ve ever seen. Mena really let her
personality shine through and she shared a lot of embarrassing stories
from her childhood that I could relate to. It was like talking with an
old friend, except that it was someone I never met before and didn’t
even speak directly to until several months after. I always enjoyed
reading her posts each morning. Her site’s still great, but she’s been
busy working on Movable Type (a very popular content management
system/blog publishing system) with her husband.

For pure comedy, I love Mecawilson (mecawilson.com). The full list of
blogs I read on a regular basis can be seen on the sidebar at
laze.net/fait/.

Paul at phonezilla.net was my main inspiration, though. He had an
online journal and blog before I did, so I followed his lead. He and
I have an interesting history to begin with: we met each other online
back in 1991, when I was 15 (and he was 12 or 13). We kept in touch
off and on over the years and really started communicating a lot more
in 1999. We launched a collaborative site (dailyping.com), which is
kind of blog-like. But even after a decade of having known each other
online, we had never even spoken on the phone! Then, last year, we
finally met in person — when he came to my wedding! :) Tangential,
but it goes to show how getting to know someone online can often be as
fulfilling as making a friend in the “real world.”

Have other bloggers found yours and made a link? What would/do you
think about that?

The blog community seems to form little clusters, with a strange
interconnectedness that can lead a visitor all over the place, to
people with totally disparate personalities. I love it when someone
comes across my blog (or I come across theirs) and we become regular
visitors of each other’s sites. I’ve met a number of people from my
general geographical area because of blogs they run — one guy lives a
block away from me, but we didn’t get to know each other until we
started reading each other’s blog! I’ve met people from thousands of
miles away for the same reason. The blog community ties together a
wide variety of personal sites that may have never had any other
relation if it weren’t for their online journals and blogs.

Do you ever get bored with blogging?

Not really, but I can see why some bloggers do. You can tell when
you’re reading a blog and it’s updated every two hours (or more!)
during the day that the writer is really excited about having a blog,
communicating their thoughts, etc. etc.. They burn themselves out
quickly.

I’ve tried to make my blogs extensions of my regular thought process,
so that they’re not some extraneous thing that feel like a chore.
Rather, they’re a natural part of how I communicate, how I organize my
thoughts, how I flex my writing muscle.

I don’t feel bad if I take a few days away from my blog, and I think
that helps. If I ever started feeling that my blog was an “obligation”
rather than something I really enjoyed doing, that’s when I might
start getting bored with it.

Do you think about ways you could make money with it?

On a personal level, no. However, I’ve recently become excited by the
idea of corporate blogging on both intranets and public web sites.
I’ve started to implement a test run of a few intranet blogs at my
company (Cigital, www.cigital.com). I think that blogs can serve as
an excellent impromptu knowledge management system on both the
personal and corporate levels.

On a semi-related note, I’ve participated in the last two Blogathons
(www.blogathon.org), a blog-for-charity event run by Cat from
frykitty.com. A couple hundred bloggers blogged for 24 hours straight
to raise money for charity. The first year brought in over $20,000 and
this year over $58,000! I, personally, raised $1000 over the two-year
period and was part of this year’s organizing team. While it’s not
“raising money” in the traditional sense, a lot of money did go to
charities because of the weblog community’s effort.

A phone interview followed a couple of days later where I was asked about TrackBacking and an awful lot about my Golden Girls blog.