June 12, 2007

Why Do I Blog? An Introspective Look

This afternoon, speaking with a colleague, I was asked "Why do you blog?" It wasn't a challenge, per se, but one of curiosity. I found it easier to deliver the story of why I started than why I blog in the first place, so it probably makes sense to outline why I feel it's important for me to blog. While this issue is a common meme around the blogosphere, I've not yet taken it up.

First, it's easy to disqualify reasons why I blog.

1) I don't blog in hopes to make money, show ads or supplement my income.
2) I don't blog with specific goals in mind for number of visitors or comments.
3) I don't blog to increase my personal brand to draw attention to myself or seek employment.

But there are some main reasons why I do blog.

1) I blog to make my voice heard, join real-time conversations and enable change.
2) I blog to share my experiences and opinions for today and tomorrow.
3) I blog to share my personal passion for sports, technology, politics and media.

Contributions to how I started this blog include:

1) Having the louisgray.com domain name for almost a decade.
2) Finding that my interests outgrew my family's narrowly-focused blog and that I needed a new audience more likely to appreciate my comments and join the conversation.
3) Enjoying the technical wrangling necessary to wholly own the blog platform experience.

I blog because the world is rapidly changing right in front of us, and I want to chronicle what I am seeing and how it affects me. I blog because I believe the traditional barriers between location and time zones are being torn asunder by real-time communication and information sharing, and that my true peers who share my interests and enthusiasm are easier to reach by keyboard than by telephone. I blog because I enjoy writing, and it's good practice for any job, present and future.

I blog because I have found blogs to be the very best way to enable change and exchange ideas. The very best way to reach a software vendor or Web service provider is not to use the telephone or to e-mail support. It is to blog. If you mention them by name, or their product, they will find you. If you complain loudly enough, they will hear you. If you proclaim a product, service or activity to be the best on Earth, you can help others learn why and lead by example.

I started this blog in early 2006 because I finally had found a way to implement a blog, using the louisgray.com domain, without having to get outside of my geek comfort zone. I had started and stopped blogs in 2004 and 2005, but shut them down as I could never reach the medium and presentation I was looking for. But since starting louisgray.com and posting consistently in a big way, I have made my voice heard, for more than 800 posts, at a rate of nearly 2 per day, sometimes more, and occasionally less. I haven't seen millions of visitors or thousands of comments, but I have established a comfort zone with those I know visit often and share their opinions. I see companies open dialogue where there was none before, and I have made friends and acquaintances who I may never meet, but would love to.

I don't have ads on this site. I'm not morally opposed to ads on blogs, but I don't want them on this site. Anybody can be bought for the right price, of course, but I don't think they make sense here, and I don't like the way they would make the site look, either in appearance or in the way the site is interpreted. I don't write my posts to get them on Digg or talked about by A-List bloggers. If that does happen, it's a treat, but not the target. I don't do keyword or search engine optimization, and I don't use viral marketing methods to artificially increase my Technorati rankings.

I blog because I am an enthusiastic fan of Apple, of TiVo, of the Oakland A's and Sacramento Kings, the iPod and iTunes, a student of the evolving Web, with new approaches to software, communication, finance, business and media. I blog because I am a sponge in Silicon Valley, eager to use the latest services and learn from those who have had more experience. I blog because I want to partake in the conversations for change and for driving what is next.

I blog because I want to learn from you and talk with you. The floor is yours. Let me know. Why do you blog, and what should I do differently, in your mind?

5 comments:

  1. Wow, Louis. That was a great post. Super eloquent.

    I relate with you on many of your points. However, I also see a blog as an area to experiment. To try new things. It could be ads, features, various topics, etc.

    It's a great way to reach out to other people and get their thoughts on your ideas and interests. Sounds repetitive, it's a bit late. Rest time.

    Great post. Honestly.

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  2. Thank you Louis for a great post.

    You said you closed down previous blogs in 2004 and 2005 because you couldn't get them quite right. What did you mean by that? What was missing or wrong?

    Gal

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  3. I agree that blogs are great ways of exchanging ideas, but are they really the best? What's after this?

    There's 70 million people shouting out to at least twice that many listeners but couldn't we have a more multi-directional conversation about these issues?

    I'm waiting for that next big thing to make this blogosphere more of a discussion. But I still don't know what that will be - any thoughts?

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  4. 3 responses in 1!

    Tony, thanks for your note. I'd love to see your blog overview soon. More than the two sentences here. I see a lot of variety in what you do.

    Gal, I'd tried iBlog in coordination with my .Mac account, but it wasn't flexible enough, and to be honest, I couldn't find a rhythm. Then I installed Moveable Type on this site, but it got corrupted. I also tried the typical Blogspot, and didn't care for it much. In theory, that would have worked, but I don't think Blogger was as full-featured as it is now. Only when I learned I could host Blogger's templates here did I get real interested.

    Ben, I would assume that even with 70 million "shouting" bloggers, that unique voices are heard. If I repeat something everyone else says, I don't add value. But I have insight and speak directly, I will be heard here before customer support would ever get my e-mail.

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  5. Great post, Louis. I'm a little bit in awe of people who can blog on a daily basis and sustain that level of energy for a year or more. I've had a couple of other blogs - one about becoming a mom and the other an extended family blog - and have been unable to keep them up. Now I have two new ones, and struggle at times to come up with enough content to keep them interesting. So kudos to you on continuing to deliver and listen to your audience.

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