Why Do I Blog?

    by Mark Glaser
    January 18, 2006

    Blogging is a funny thing. Weblogs, those online diaries that run in reverse chronological order, are just like any other new technological advance: more people have heard of them than have actually read them or written them. My Aunt Bobby, when she heard that I was writing about blogs, would say, “Gosh, those conservative bloggers are sure stirring up a hornet’s nest about ’60 Minutes’ and the fake documents from Bush’s National Guard service! Now where can I find a blog?”

    There is no easy answer. Blogs are everywhere and nowhere. I can’t direct her to a newsstand selling blogs, and a printout of a blog wouldn’t do it justice. And if she met a blogger, how could she differentiate him or her from a non-blogger? I could recommend a few good blogs, with a web address scrawled on a piece of paper, perhaps political blogs I like such as Daily Kos on the left and InstaPundit on the libertarian right. Maybe a search engine such as Technorati or Bloglines could help them poke around and find knowledgeable bloggers on the topics of their choice.

    I have danced around becoming a blogger myself. I’ve written some email newsletters that had blog-like tendencies, with a personal tone, commentary and links to other media sources. When I wrote a column for the USC Annenberg School’s Online Journalism Review, the column started its life as a blog-like stream of consciousness with no original reporting — that is, I didn’t interview people but relied on other news stories for my commentary. That changed, and I was soon doing in-depth reporting about — you guessed it — blogs.


    I was on Air America, the liberal radio network, as a blog expert, when the host Marty Kaplan sucker-punched me on air: “You write and talk about blogs all the time, so why don’t you actually blog?” Well… The truth was that I knew that a blog would take over my life, requiring care and feeding more than the highest maintenance pet. And if it wasn’t screaming out to me for more content, then the Comments section, where readers respond to each blog posting, would be brimming with controversy that I couldn’t ignore.

    But now, finally, in 2006, I am ready to turn my life over to the blog. I hope it doesn’t eat my wife and son, chew through my assorted leisure activities, and gnaw on my dreams at night. It helps that PBS.org — bless their souls, Preacherman! — has offered to finance my vision. When I first was pitching the idea of the MediaShift blog, one pitchee told me, “Mark, why don’t you think outside the blog?” It had a nice ring to it, and I had to agree. So MediaShift will try to think outside the blog, by offering you more — and serving you more.

    The Top 5 will be a very unscientific Intelligent Designed look at trends, people and technology that won’t leave us alone. It’s no surprise that Google is atop the list, and I’m not sure if it will ever leave the list this year. We all are addicted to Google for searching, and we wait breathlessly for each and every new doodad they come up with, no matter if it’s a clunker, like the new Google Video store. (Excepting MediaZone presents Rugby: 2005 Air New Zealand National Provincial Championship!!)


    And each week, I’ll pose a more pointed question to you all to get Your Take. The following week, I’ll do a roundup of the best of what you’ve offered to share with us. And once per week, I’ll do a feature called Digging Deeper that will include deeper thinking and even interviews. Eventually, I’ll start a weekly podcast, add audio and video to the site, and do more stories that include you in a two-way conversation.

    And I hope that together we can break the bonds of traditional blogging and journalism. The more I think about the traditional way of doing journalism, the more questions I have about it. If I’m a movie critic, for instance, why does my view rate in importance? I got in free to the movie, the movie stars are there for me to interview, why do I know better than you?

    And as a journalist reporting a feature story or news story, why do I only talk to the usual analysts and experts? Why are the same people quoted over and over again in all the different news outlets? Are they really that much smarter than you are?

    As I launch into the Great Unknown of the Blogosphere (that’s where blogs live, but you can’t take a train there), I need your help. I know you’ve heard all the hubbub about blogs and podcasts, and maybe even heard about RSS news readers and wikis such as Wikipedia. You might have even — gasp! — experienced the digital revolution up close and created your own blog.

    What confuses you? What keeps you up at night? How can I help YOU? (I’m talking in generalities here; I can’t do tech support for you…) Go to the Feedback page and tell me, or hit the Comments below. Rest assured that I will read everything you send me, even if I don’t have time to respond with grace and loving care to each and every one of you. Welcome aboard!

    Tagged: blogosphere personal weblog
    • Congrats on your new blog, Mark!

      One thing I’ve found is that blogging doesn’t have to take over your life. That’s one of the beauties of conversational media (of which blogging is only one facet). The trick is, I’ve found, to use your blog to get a good conversation going and to keep it rolling.

      It’s also especially helpful (good karma and otherwise) to set aside a little time regularly to read and *comment on* other blogs, in addition to working on your own. This type of media is deeply interconnected. Getting involved in other blogs provides an incredibly rich source of serendipity.

      IMHO, of course.

      – Amy Gahran

    • I have turned into a blog junkie. From what I have found, I go through stages. Some times I am completely diabolically obsessed. Other times couldn’t care and that’s when I usually right short and funny.

      Im leaning towards more obssesive right now.


    • secreteditor

      I cant find your email anywhere on the site. Am I missing it?

    • What blogging software are you using anyway? I think I detect a bit of AJAX in the way comments are handled.

    • pk

      this is a movable type installation we’ve designed and coded specifically for mediashift. and you’re correct, the commenting preview is indeed utilizing javascript.

    • What an interesting offshoot for PBS, and long overdue. Welcome to the other side, Mark. Happy Blogging!

    • Mark, beware blog addicition. I posted about this just last week, and the week before, and…

      No, really, welcome and I look forward to participating here.

      See you around the blogosphere.

    • Congratulations, Mark. I’m looking forward to regular reading. Welcome to my RSS reader. :-)

    • Let me get this straight: You went to the world’s greatest journalism school (I’m an ’89 Mizzou grad and I believe you were ’88 — remember the old Missourian office? What a dump); you’re an accomplished writer; and you’re not afraid to admit that you like cats.

      Oh, and you are entering the blogosphere with intelligence, humility and class.

      As my Jewish mother would say, “So what’s not to like?”

    • I wish you all the best with this new proyect Mark. I am adding MediaShift to my daily readings.

    • Excellent to see that PBS is getting into the new media mix more. One thing I hope you will look at, both from a Internet phenomenon angle and a social angle, is the digital divide issue of technological equality. While the blog does appear to be a new medium for direct, participatory media with a number of exciting possibilities for promoting a more just world, we need to be aware of the inherent biases that also come with the high-tech package.

      Also of interest, some scholars have suggested that the internet and the complete customization of choice (like customizable my yahoo pages, etc) are actually making people less engaged and informed becasue they can now filter out anything not in line with their particular political bent, therefore discouraging a more informed and deliberative public. I would love to see you explore some of these type of issues along the way. I think it would do a great service to many young and aspiring bloggers who want to actually add something to the world, not just rehash corporate news spins and ideological rants.


    • Congrats Mark on this new blog!

      Mainstream media is one thing and blogs are a totally different world of their own.

      Wishing you all the best !

    • I was wondering if you could comment on the trend of a blog host’s personality influencing the delivery of information, sort of the internet equivalent of broadcast anchors in their heyday.

      Do you find blogs that interject personal information inbetween more serious news/links more engaging or more distracting in general?

    • Welcome to the blogosphere.

    • Ged

      Mark, congratulations on the good site, I’ve bookmarked it and will come back to visit regularly. PBS.org has a high standard in commentary sites such as I, Cringely so you are keeping good company. Best of luck with the new venture, long may you publish.

    • Hi all,
      Thanks so much for all the well wishes. It’s good to know that some in the blogosphere have my back.

      Percival, you make a good point about people shutting out opposing views online, but that hasn’t been the case overall — at least according to research done a couple years back. This article I did for OJR digs deeper:

      But I think it may be something good to keep on our collective radars.

      Jake, as far as personal info injected into blogs, it is hard to separate that. The medium is very personal. But it’s probably a good idea to make sure people know what your biases are when you try to make yourself out to be an objective source of global news.

      Thanks again for all your kind words.

    • Yeah, blogging will change the way we view news and information – think of it as an interactive medium.

    • The reason blogging can be time and mind consuming is because a person generally starts a blog, and keeps at over 2 years, because they have a passion for something, the thing they blog about.

      I was fearing you would be using a blog as a unilateral pulpit, but you kindly open your blog to reader comments, a very good move.

      Asking question of your readers is a good way to incite responses from the audience. When readers communicate with, not only you, but with each other, using the blog as a Slow Chat Room, you are really in the online community zone.

    • Your blog promises to be interesting – also a classy design. I’ve bookmarked it and will revisit.

      I must say that there doesn’t seem to be a ‘box’ in Blogdom. I’m a 74 year old granny and have several blogs – and a website. The first Blog I established was/is for rants – social & political – the things I’d be way too polite to actually say to people. With the 2nd – I jumped out of that box and wrote it as a sort of memoir/essay – in sequential order. Then there’s one for computer tips and one for recipes and one touting the virtues of Central New York – with lots of photos ….

      At this point it seems appropriate to interject my definition of a blog: ‘it’s an exercise in ego-centrism’! It’s also a free-loaders paradise – LOL. It’s there – it’s free – it’s fun – and sometimes it’s even informative.

      Congrats – I look forward to reading more of your blog!

    • Congrats on Media Shift

      I started my blog ‘Serge the Concierge’ http://www.njconcierges.com about 10 months ago as a way to have a conversation with my customers. I run a concierge and errands service in Montclair, New Jersey with originally 2 websites, Montclair Concierges http://www.montclairconcierges.com and New Jersey Concierges http://www.njconcierges.com
      My blog got its name from a piece that Debbie Galant of Baristanet http://www.baristanet.com wrote on my services back in March of 2005.
      I then found out there was an NYPD Blue episode with the same name.
      It kinda gave me the impetus to get started. 200+ posts later it has taken a life of its own with readership growing steadily.
      I participate regularly in ‘Wine Blogging Wednesdays.
      Take care

    • Sam

      Hi Mark,

      You might find kolablog an interesting multimedia blog service and it’s free. Check it out at http://www.kolablog.com

    • MMhh… I am not commenting firsthand on blogging…
      I don’t understand why you’ve questioned the core values of journalism, one of which is “interpretation” – I think as long as the writer puts himself forth and approaches news with scientifical methodology (as far as we can go), then he/she is accomplishing something. It’s just that some people are visibly mis-guided or untrustworthy — mere salesmen and women. We have to consider that there is a point at which you do not separate the self from the object; well, maybe this is too strayed from your blogging subject, but it’s what I wanted to say.
      Recommendation for your and PBS’s future blog enterprize: stay open, even if you find it unsettling at times. This massive trend to standardize, categorize, in order to “save us time” is saving us from the very richness of true experience and true dialogue. Things are imperfect. You have to be careful when drafting and safeguarding the rules for comments — if you become TOO selective (and I stress the word) you’ll leave the fun and spontaneity out. Let us, readers, be selective of what we read. Target your audience in a way (no idea how?!) that the reader is motivated to meet and contribute to enlighten, ponder, delve into subjects. Give us little pictures, too, because sometimes that’s what we handle.
      I wish you, Mr. Mark, good sleep whilst cooking this project. Cheers!

    • Congrats, Mark on venturing into the big dark blogosphere.


    • I am, therefore I blog.

    • Congratulations Mark, and welcome to the blogosphere.

      Can you pls get them to add trackbacks? I don’t see them.

      Yeah, blogging is addicting. But it’s also fun and I’ve met some pretty remarkable people through my blog.

      We’re pretty lucky to be doing work we can get addicted to. A real job would definitely be a LOT worse. :>)

    • I just discovered this blog via my weekly PBS Previews email (guess I haven’t been reading down to the bottom [much] lately).

      Looks like your blog is off to a good start (posts and comments) — I’m adding it to my Bloglines subscriptions.

      I believe that blogging, especially blogs that allow comments and/or trackbacks, have finally created a platform for a truly participatory mediatocracy — it easier than ever for anyone to have their “say”.

      I heartily concur with Amy’s comments (the first comment entry on this post) about the interconnectedness and [resulting] serendipity of the blogosphere, and the value of comments (to commenters and commentees). I have found that blogging has helped me enter a virtuous spiral of increasing openness and vulnerability — the more I see other bloggers model this, the more willing I am willing to do so myself (though this may say more about the blogs I choose to read).

      Speaking of openness, having raised concerns about the potential “consumption costs” to blogging, I hope you (Mark) will post updates about how blogging is affecting your life and work, particularly with respect to new and existing relationships, online and offline.

    • You’ve asked a good question (Why Do I Blog?); one that I’ve asked myself nearly every day since I started blogging in 2002. I don’t know the answer, but I do know that I must keep blogging in order to find it.

      I fall under the category of mommyblogger; I blog about my life as a mom to two small kids. It’s a crazy life and without my blog, I would go crazy. So instead of *going* crazy, I write about my crazy life. Make sense? Also, my mom likes it.

      If you’re not already signed up to attend, consider pondering your question at the upcoming BlogHer conference. (www.blogher.org) I attended this conference last year and was inspired in so many ways. I also met real live people and forged friendships outside of my computer. This is an important thing to remember as you enter the blogosphere: There is life outside the blogosphere.

      Welcome! BTW, I read about your new blog in that archaic medium, the newspaper flung onto my driveway each morning. Peter Brown gave you a shout out in today’s Examiner.

    • I have no record of and never knew any of my ancestors, so I want to leave a legacy for my children and this is one of the more interesting ways of doing it ;)

    • Well! I am an obssessed blogger. I don’t see blogs as funny thing. I see blogsphere a platform to exchange knowledge and expertise.

    • Trevor Mcluskey

      The only problem I have with blogging. Is people. Not so much people who blog about their life and their personal ideas of whats going on in the world but other people who take the blogger’s ideas for fact. In an age where information is everywhere but fact checked information is seldom found, people tend to believe information when it is in fact not so believable. Of course I am not referring to you or anyone reading this or even myself, as I’m sure everything that is said by us is back checked before blogging or in my case commenting.

    • I like blogging but recently got the twitter bug

    • I have tried to blogging myself several times and each of them was a disaster. Congratulations on good quality blog, keep on going!

    • I started toblog about 2 months ago, now I’m addicted to blogging. I love putting out new contents every single day. I am obsessed with blogging, I don’t know what it is? There’s something about it.

    • Hi! Google gerade im Web und bin auf dieser Homepage gelandet.
      Respekt, haben Sie toll gemacht.
      Ich wünsche Ihnen weiterhin viel Erfolg mit Ihre Seite und natürlich viele Besucher.
      Hier habe ich mich sehr wohl gefühlt und werde wieder hierher zurückkommen.
      Freue mich auf einen Gegenbesuch auf meiner Homepage

    • Hallo, ich kam durch Zufall auf diese Seite und möchte einen netten Gruß hinterlassen. Ich würde mich freuen, wenn ihr auf meiner Homepage auch einmal vorbei schauen würdet! Vielleicht wollt ihr einmal auf Sylt Westerland oder an der Ostsee Urlaub machen?! Wir haben dort sehr schöne Meerblickwohnungen. Vielleicht bis bald einmal!
      Herzliche Grüße

    • I have tried to blogging myself several times and each of them was a disaster. Congratulations on good quality blog, keep on going!

    • I’ve been asking myself why I blog, considering that, unlike Mark, I don’t have a sponsor, and therefore no continuing validation outside myself.

      Here are my latest thoughts on why I blog:

    • Hey great stuff, thank you for sharing this useful information and i will let know my friends as well.

    • Congrats on good quality blog, keep on going! :)

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