All entries for Monday 18 July 2011

July 18, 2011

To blog, or not to blog? That is the question…

A number of things, the launch of Google+ among them, have recently prompted me to think about blogging and how, why and where I blog, and more fundamentally about what a blog really is. Before I get to that, a little bit of history...

I started blogging back in 2004, with a blog hosted on the University of Warwick's in-house Warwick Blogs system. That was really an experiment to see what blogging was all about, and specifically to see if it was a useful mechanism for enhancing communication within my team at work. Once that experiment was over, I carried on, encouraged by a community of people that were using Warwick Blogs and actively reading and commenting on each other's blogs. My blog turned into a place where I thought out loud about whatever interested me. There was no theme, and no intended audience. I wrote the blog for me. Eventually, I discovered Twitter as an outlet for my random thoughts and I stopped blogging quite so much, and eventually stopped completely. As an attempt to kick-start my blogging I created a new blog and while I don't blog quite so much there as I used to on the other blog, I do seem to be just about keeping it going. So far. Now, though, Google+ has arrived and I like it a lot. The ability to write long posts, unlike on Twitter, means that I could easily do all my "thinking out loud" there and not need to blog at all. Or maybe I mean I don't need a separate blog and that Google+ could be my blog? But what is a blog...

I use Google Analytics on my blogs, and despite there being no significant content on my old blog since 2009 it still gets over 700 visits a month. People clearly are finding the content there useful. Or more likely Google Search is sending them there because it thinks they'll find it useful. And for me, that is what makes a blog different from an update stream like Twitter or Google+ - permanence. Updates on social networking sites tend to be short lived. That is, people read them within a few hours of them being posted but after that they disappear into history and are never seen again. Even the search on Twitter doesn't return stuff more than a few days old anymore. One of the most viewed posts on my old blog is one I posted in 2006!

This has convinced me that a blog as a permanent, searchable entity separate from Twitter/Google+/etc. is a useful thing and I'll carry on doing it. I'm not sure that my new self-hosted Wordpress blog will stick around. If Google manage to nicely integrate Google+ with Blogger, for example, I could be very tempted to move there. But I will continue blogging somewhere...

And if the distinguishing factor of a blog is its permanence and searchability, we surely need to consider some form of archiving of blogs? This ties in very nicely with the Blog Forever Project mentioned by Karen Stepyan elsewhere on this blog.


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