|A pretentious and presumptuous attempt to document what bloggers have learned, without any formal instruction, to do every day.
And then a description of what’s needed to make blogs a medium for real conversation.
For some bloggers, just writing is enough. For most of us, though, we’re looking to the blogosphere to provide us with useful and interesting information, education, entertainment and/or inspiration for our writing, and feedback, a critical audience, and help with the creative and publishing process. That process looks (to me at least) something like this:
As we all know, this is a lot of work, and there’s never enough time to do it perfectly. I budget 75 minutes/day for reading (the steps in red), 60 minutes/day for writing (green), 15 minutes/day for promotion (blue), and, on the weekend, 60 minutes/week for blog community activities, focused on Salon Blogs, my chosen community. As an empty-nester and night-owl, I do most of this between 8-11pm, but I try to post during prime blog time (5am-5pm) so my posts show up in the ‘recently updated’ lists when most people are reading.
Blogging has taught me to write better (believe it or not), to write faster, and what blog readers like and don’t like of my work. That’s enough to keep me blogging. But I know of several bloggers who gave up because they didn’t discover, or didn’t feel, a sense of community. Or they found blogging too impersonal compared to chat, IM, and the telephone. A blog is a very blunt tool, and provides little context of the writer’s personality, the kind of context that allows the development of real relationships (business or personal).
For personal relationship building, some bloggers have added chat, IM or webcam functionality to their blogs. Group blogs, forums and wikis allow collaborative work, which enables some real relationship building. And business networking tools like Ryze and LinkedIn allow bloggers to identify business needs and credentials to forge stronger business connections.
But in the absence of these appendages, blogs remain primarily one-way communication media. Comments threads, especially when they get long and divergent, are very clumsy ways of carrying on a communication. As a result, back-channeling (taking a comment thread ‘offline’ and continuing it by private e-mail) deprives the rest of the readers of the benefits of the conversation, and e-mail threads aren’t very good conversational vehicles themselves (compared to face-to-face, telephone, chat or IM).
Why can’t we enhance blog software so it allows a discussion, at the author’s discretion, to migrate simply to other, more powerful conversational tools without losing the connection to the initial blog post that provoked it? I could (as lots of bloggers do) add applets and links for chat, IM, voice-over-IP, a webcam, desktop videoconferencing, my forums and groups, and my Ryze and LinkedIn pages. But they still wouldn’t be connected, and I’d expect few readers to comfortably jump to the other ‘channels’ to continue a discussion started by a blog post. Or to use these tools ‘cold’ to communicate with me out of the blue. This probably shows I’m just not used to these other tools and their codes of behaviour, but I’d bet most of us are in the same boat. What’s needed is a seamless migration path between the ‘channels’, and an accepted and intuitive protocol for deciding which ‘channel’ to use when.
Not all bloggers will want or use this bi-directional communication functionality, of course. The blogosphere has multiple information cultures, and many bloggers are perfectly content with one-directional communication. Some don’t even turn on their commenting capability, following the historical magazine dictum of only allowing readers to write ‘letters to the editor’. And I respect their right to do so.
But I think many of us are aching to enrich the relationships with our readers, to whom we owe a great deal, and would welcome bi-directional, multi-channel communication functionality, tightly linked to our blog posts, to allow us to engage in true conversations and community-building with them. If you know of examples of blogs that have been so enriched (probably by tech-savvy bloggers tweaking their own blogs) please let me know, and I’ll start a list of them on my blogroll.
In the meantime, I’m going to try to push the blog envelope in more modest ways, within my very limited technical capability. I’ve put up my picture at right and updated my bio, so I’m not so mysterious. Watch for some peculiar boxes to appear at the end of certain posts that will take you to my IM address, scheduled discussions on my forums and groups, or my Ryze or LinkedIn pages.
Yes, I know that figuring out blogs’ peculiar technical foibles is already hard enough for most of us, and that none of us has enough time even for the steps in the chart above. But if we’re going to save the world and stuff we need to really communicate, to make blogs tools to really connect us with like minds, not just to inform and entertain. I’ve ‘met’ a few of my readers in person or by telephone conversation, and let me tell you the sudden jump in medium and connection is psychologically jarring. It shouldn’t have to be.
Who knows, maybe by next year the chart above will be so much more complex it’ll look like a plan for extricating Bush from Iraq.
Other Writers About CollapseAlbert Bates (US)
Andrew Nikiforuk (CA)
Carolyn Baker (US)*
Catherine Ingram (US)
Chris Hedges (US)
Dahr Jamail (US)
David Petraitis (US)
David Wallace-Wells (US)
Dean Spillane-Walker (US)*
Derrick Jensen (US)
Doing It Ourselves (AU)
Dougald & Paul (UK)*
Gail Tverberg (US)
Guy McPherson (US)
Jan Wyllie (UK)
Janaia & Robin (US)*
Jem Bendell (US)
Jonathan Franzen (US)
Kari McGregor (AU)
Keith Farnish (UK)
NTHE Love (UK)
Paul Chefurka (CA)
Paul Heft (US)*
Post Carbon Inst. (US)
Richard Heinberg (US)
Robert Jensen (US)
Roy Scranton (US)
Sam Mitchell (US)
Sam Rose (US)*
Tim Bennett (US)
Tim Garrett (US)
Umair Haque (US)
William Rees (CA)
Archive by Category
My Bio, Contact Info, Signature PostsAbout the Author (2016)
--- My Best 100 Posts --
Preparing for Civilization's End:
What Would Net-Zero Emissions Look Like?
Why Economic Collapse Will Precede Climate Collapse
Being Adaptable: A Reminder List
A Culture of Fear
What Will It Take?
A Future Without Us
Dean Walker Interview (video)
The Mushroom at the End of the World
What Would It Take To Live Sustainably?
The New Political Map (Poster)
Complexity and Collapse
Save the World Reading List
What a Desolated Earth Looks Like
Giving Up on Environmentalism
The Dark & Gathering Sameness of the World
The End of Philosophy
The Boiling Frog
What to Believe Now?
Conversation & Silence
The Language of Our Eyes
Cultural Acedia: When We Can No Longer Care
Several Short Sentences About Learning
Why I Don't Want to Hear Your Story
A Harvest of Myths
The Qualities of a Great Story
The Trouble With Stories
A Model of Identity & Community
Not Ready to Do What's Needed
A Culture of Dependence
So What's Next
Ten Things to Do When You're Feeling Hopeless
No Use to the World Broken
Living in Another World
Does Language Restrict What We Can Think?
The Value of Conversation Manifesto Nobody Knows Anything
If I Only Had 37 Days
The Only Life We Know
A Long Way Down
No Noble Savages
Figments of Reality
Too Far Ahead
The Rogue Animal
How the World Really Works:
If You Wanted to Sabotage the Elections
Collective Intelligence & Complexity
Ten Things I Wish I'd Learned Earlier
The Problem With Systems
Against Hope (Video)
The Admission of Necessary Ignorance
Several Short Sentences About Jellyfish
A Synopsis of 'Finding the Sweet Spot'
Learning from Indigenous Cultures
The Gift Economy
The Job of the Media
The Wal-Mart Dilemma
The Illusion of the Separate Self:
Did Early Humans Have Selves?
Nothing On Offer Here
Even Simpler and More Hopeless Than That
What Happens in Vagus
We Have No Choice
Never Comfortable in the Skin of Self
Letting Go of the Story of Me
All There Is, Is This
A Theory of No Mind
The Ever-Stranger (Poem)
The Fortune Teller (Short Story)
Non-Duality Dude (Play)
Your Self: An Owner's Manual (Satire)
All the Things I Thought I Knew (Short Story)
On the Shoulders of Giants (Short Story)
Calling the Cage Freedom (Short Story)
Only This (Poem)
The Other Extinction (Short Story)
Disruption (Short Story)
A Thought-Less Experiment (Poem)
Speaking Grosbeak (Short Story)
The Only Way There (Short Story)
The Wild Man (Short Story)
Flywheel (Short Story)
The Opposite of Presence (Satire)
How to Make Love Last (Poem)
The Horses' Bodies (Poem)
Distracted (Short Story)
Worse, Still (Poem)
A Conversation (Short Story)
Farewell to Albion (Poem)
My Other Sites
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons License.