May 20, 2009

to blog or not to blog

I've been thinking lately about the nature and purpose of blogging, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. For me, I use my online spots as a kind of virtual sticky notes and generally hope to keep friends and family abreast of what is going on in my life and what I am thinking about.

My life kind of goes in seasons where I'm around a computer often and can post stuff and seasons I am not near a computer to post regularly (no, I don't have a phone capable of doing this–except take crappy photos). When I can, it's enjoyable. It doesn't distract me from much. It does effect my journaling some what, which I feel is very important for my soul. I've started storing up my ideas and extended thoughts on things for articles I've committed to and other writing commitments as opposed to dumping them bit by bit here–I've slacked off on sharing my pontifications recently.

Since, in great part, I do this to keep up with others–but don't do all that well–I'm wondering what you think about all of these online communication tools. Specifically, whether or not I should use some of them on a regular basis (yes, Brooke Gonzales, I know you don't get Twitter). For some reason, lately I've thought about pulling the plug on the blog and other things. I often fail to see the purpose. I grow more and more committed to trying to make thoughts and ideas materialize in a local context and community. Because of that, I really am interested in what you think. I don't assume that my blog has a huge readership. I know that it is mostly checked in on occasionally by Hawthornistas and other friends. So, I would like to know what you think. Seriously. Leave a comment if you have time. Thanks.

13 comments :

daniel so said...

J - I would love to see you keep blogging. I love the unique mix of personal thoughts, family stuff, community-related news, music, art, and photos that you share.

I totally hear you, though, about keeping up. My approach to the blogosphere has definitely changed over the last couple of years. I don't have the time or energy to keep up with everything I used to. These days, I keep a pretty small circle, with the occasional surprise.

Jordon Cooper said...

While I would like to see your blog continue as your thinking influences me greatly I agree with your thoughts on blogging and I am at the same place as you are.

I work in a homeless shelter and I am more focused on seeing my ideas on justice, poverty, and quality of live come to fruition than just write about those ideas which leaves my blog is a pretty boring space.

At the same time I find that I can leave my blog for extended periods and it is there when I come back to it.

Pat said...

I love reading your blog and have it in my top tier of feeds in Google Reader. Like you and Jordon and Daniel, my own blogging has changed a lot over the years, but I do find it helpful to write in longer-form, or to put up references, quotes, links that I know my blog-reading friends will enjoy. Twitter's great, but it's a complement to blogging, not a replacement. Facebook Notes are only discovered by my friends. Blogs have the possibility of being discovered by folks who haven't ALREADY found you, and if your topic should be heard (like yours should), then blogging about it is good community service :)

Jason Evans said...

Wow! Not what I expected.

Well, yours are two opinions I deeply appreciate and respect. So, thanks to both of you for chiming in.

I wonder if anyone who disagrees will comment.

I feel like I need to make a decision on this and "refine" how this plays into my life.

May seem minuscule, but I want to "order" it with the other things in my life (ie. family, community, sp. disciplines, activism, gardening, home projects, art, music, other writing, etc.).

Jason Evans said...

So, you three have commented on blogging, but what about Facebook... I actually rarely go on. I just use feeds and tweets to update it... but I really don't like it... think I should kill that? Or can you social network without it these days?

daniel so said...

J - Great question re: Facebook. I find that it's been useful for me mostly in *re*connecting with people (e.g., former youth group students, high school friends, etc.). That, and for time-wasting games :)

These days, I hardly check in on my FB -- but it still seems to have some momentum when it comes to organizing events, etc. But, then again, I'm just an out of touch old guy :D

Jason Coker said...

Jason,

I don't think this is a small question.

I think what everyone here (including me) is feeling is the delayed result of the shakeout of new media in general. Blogging as a form of personal broadcasting is already past its prime and rapidly declining. The future of new media is the ability to go from the general to the specific; from the global to the local; from the categorical to the targeted. In that sense, I would think it offers real potential for what folks like you are trying to do.

So, given the powerful drift toward targeted content and the wildly experimental and iterative nature of new media you have some very serious questions to answer for yourself: How do media tools impact your mission positively and negatively? How could you leverage them to have a greater local impact, rather than spend time broadcasting to a more general audience? Are you willing to experiment with mediums that may require tremendous time and energy, only to find they've been replaced by newer, equally faddish, tools relatively quickly (think blogging->Twitter)? To what extent are mediated relationships a potentially harmful substitute for face-to-face relationships?

Personally I think your voice would be missed, and the table of conversation is increasingly a digital one. While you may decide not to intentionally use new media as a means of mission (and therefore unplug from a variety of tools), I would encourage you to remain plugged-in somehow as a contributor to the broader conversation in whatever form it takes.

Jon Hall said...

Hey J, my two pennies....

Penny number one: keep talking. Yours is a voice of wisdom and influence, and it needs to be heard.

Penny number two: the social mediums will be in constant flux and change. Since this falls somewhat into my line of work, I've been tracking with it pretty closely, and see that the social web will only grow, not shrink. Specific vehicles will come and go (MySpace going, FB prob not far behind, others emerging rapidly though). Convergence is happening now, so the need to manage multiple social streams is dimishing. You're doing this now with your FB feed (which, btw, is how I most often follow your posts, what you're reading, etc.)

Put them together, and I'd love to hear your voice continue in the ways/places that fit with the rest of your life.

Oh, and if ANY of this gets in the way of your art, drop it all like a bad habit and do art.

Jon

Jordon Cooper said...

I quit using Facebook a long time ago. It is just kind of there and I don't bother updating it. There is a saying that the new Facebook is quitting Facebook.

I find myself using Flickr, Twitter, and my blog now and they are ordered by my passion for them.

While 160 character serves me well, when I have something longer to say, I like having a place to do so. i think you would miss this place if you gave it up. I think a lot of us would too.

Brooke Gonzales said...

Hi Jason,
Thanks for the shout out! I do, of course, like your blog, but I think that you already know that. As you said, I do not get twitter, but that is fine. I am the type of person that hates new technology, until it becomes apparent that I can't live in the dark ages. For example, I hated the idea of a cell phone when it first came out. My mom forced me to get one that I was only allowed to use for emergencies and I kept it in the glove box of my 1990 honda civic. I was probably the last of my friends to actually use a cell phone. I just felt like I didn't need a communication device attached to me, because I didn't want people to be able to contact me at all times. I have felt the same with blogs and facebook, both of which I now participate in. With facebook, I see it as more of an address book for me. I meet a lot of people, and may want to contact one of them sometime, so I have their contact if I need it. Because of that, I don't go on very much or really update my status. And I don't know why, but I like to blog. It has been a sort of outlet for me this year with all of the academic writing I have been doing, a little corner of the internet where I can write about whatever I want, not what someone tells me to. And I can share what I am learning, or be weird, funny, awkward, whatever. I appreciate that about the blogging experience.

Those are my thoughts! Sorry for the extremely long comment!!!

P.S. The word verification I am about to type in to publish this comment is farted. :)

James said...

Good questions. I'd love to keep you on the 'net, since I use it to keep posted on friends quite a bit, but I understand the time drain. I've consolidated my internet holding a few times, and then ended up expanding them as new tools became available.

Here's my view on the current bunch, and an idea on how to simplify a bit, if you so desire.

Facebook - mainly a rolodex, and keeping people posted via Twitter plugin.

Twitter - More for reaching out to people, making loose connections, and keeping people/staying up to date on the latest haps.

Blog - Sandbox for bigger thoughts.

Tumblr - I don't use it - looks like a fun way to share interesting curiosities - stuff not quite important enough for a blog post.

Right now I really only update my blog and Twitter. Blog updates Twitter, which updates Facebook, etc. Keeps things simple.

For your Tumblr (maybe it already does, but if not) make it update Twitter. That way it's less of something to maintain and more a tributary to one of your main feeds - you don't have to worry about it at all. Tumblr, after all, is more of a collection of curiosities. The important stuff hits the blog.

Anyhow, glad we're e-friends, for now.

spiritfarmer said...

J,

When I see your name in bold in my Google Reader, I stop everything and look at what you've posted. But that may just be because I have a secret man crush on you.

I echo what James wrote. I work with college students, so Facebook is non-negotiable for me. Tumblr? Meh. I enjoy Twitter because I don't work in an office where I can lob witty remarks over the cubicle walls with co-workers. Tweets become that banter for me, with an occasional discovery of a link or cause or story I hadn't heard before.

I'd suggest that you wait for a final-ish decision on what to do with all this stuff until you land in whatever your next line of work is. That will likely impact what you're thinking about, how much time you spend online, etc.

Jason Evans said...

You all are great people and great friends! Thanks for the input! I think I'm going to go with Steve's remarks for the time being and not do any immediately. Thank you so much!

Jason

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