The OF Blog: A few observations about the social aspects of blogging

Saturday, April 03, 2010

A few observations about the social aspects of blogging

The older I get and the more blogging I do, the more I notice differences in how many people approach blogging.  Some of it is cultural, some of it is generational, and I suppose some of it is political as well.  Whatever source these differences may arise, I have noticed some disconnect recently.

I won't mention how or from whom I learned this, but I learned recently that a few people were bothered with what was said in the faux news that I posted on April Fool's Day.  If I recall, someone was bothered that there seemed to be barbs underlying the silliness that I wrote.  Nothing could be further from the truth, as I'm much more likely to be quite direct about it if something of that nature were intended.  But this incident serves as an example for something that I've been thinking about on occasion for the past several months.

I co-founded this blog back in late August 2004 and began almost-daily posts back in June 2007.  I remember receiving my first review copy back in June 2004 (it was an autographed copy of R. Scott Bakker's The Warrior-Prophet and I received it when I was a mod/site Admin at the now-defunct wotmania fansite; I started the blog two months later, so I might be one of the rare few who received review copies before starting a blog).  Arranged a giveaway with Bakker later that year, again hosted at wotmania.    I viewed then, as I do now,  such things as reviewing books, commenting on trends, and the (very occasional) promotional giveways as being parts of a business.  Sure, I enjoyed interacting with others on occasion (and as I've said several times, this blog originally was intended to promote wotmania's Other Fantasy section, thus the OF initials in the header), but I never really conceived of this blog as being a social exercise.

Even despite the many interesting comments, links provided, and discussions here, it still is hard for me to think of blogging as being a social exercise.  Perhaps it's because I'm in my mid-30s and exhibit several stereotypical traits of the so-called Generation X cohort, but I tend to view with distrust the notion of book blogging as being something that ought to be a social exercise.  I have a Facebook account, but outside of keeping it touch with a few people I've worked with over the years, I really don't view it as being an essential component of my blogging.  I don't Twitter, nor do I believe that if I were to do so that it would be of great interest to most. 

But that is me.  Others view this integration of blogging, Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking groups as a fun and essential part of their online activities.  I have learned recently that there have been several group efforts, from interviewing people to starting group blogs that serve as an extension of their individual blogging efforts.  Obviously, there are quite a few positive benefits, not the least of which is getting to know others quite well.  Sometimes, remaining aloof can lead to certain misconceptions arising, such as the above-mentioned AFD post, as I rarely do link to others' blogs these days and perhaps my sense of humor was taken as being a veiled attack.  It is a danger that exists whenever there is not communication, I'll admit.

However, there are also dangers I see in being too "connected."  Besides that of "groupthink," where the bandwagon effect can appear to be on steroids, there may develop a new sort of insularity, in which those who are members of tribe-like organizations, say a band of bloggers who use Blogger, or those who use Wordpress or Typepad, may end up settling into a relatively small circle that may be mistaken for the width and breadth of online book discussion.  I know it is something that I worry about when I don't take the time to read what's out there (and I source surf to find dozens, if not hundreds, of literature/genre blogs in several languages, only a few of which I provide in my blogroll) and I can't help but wonder if something akin to that occurs in group blogs.  Wouldn't surprise me if it didn't, since clique formation is a typical human social behavior.

Perhaps these vague concerns are just the result of too much idleness and are mostly overblown?  Maybe, but I will admit that regardless of whatever blogging path someone may choose, there are dangers and pitfalls that await.

21 comments:

Joe Sherry said...

Shrug.

I barely run my own blog well enough to even consider joining up on a group blog.

I don't know if it is an age thing. For me, it is a social thing, or, more accurately, a lack of social thing.

Yes, I'd like millions (and millions!) of people to read my blog, but I have a very difficult time remaining an active member of any online community - blog, forum, or otherwise. I drift, and don't seem to feel comfortable in many niches and don't often do the roundabout commenting that seems to set folks up into a real blog circle that you see crop up.

I've no problem with those that do, and I've been around long enough that I don't worry about my place as a blogger (I did when I first started).

But hey, this shit is supposed to be something enjoyable (cause I sure haven't seen the Blogger Paycheck show up in my mailbox), so whatever makes people happy.

Larry said...

True dat. And with the millions (and millions!), are you by any chance a fan of The Rock? :P

Joe Sherry said...

Who isn't?

I just couldn't work a Shawn Michaels reference into there...unless I mentioned that sometimes I feel burnt out and uninspired and I'm concerned that I might lose my smile.

Aidan Moher said...

Maybe you wouldn't be so bitter if you switched to Wordpress.

;)

Larry said...

Ha! Well, maybe I'm just the Showstopper! Oh, and sometimes I'm Mr. Monday Night as well ;)

Aidan,

I do have a Wordpress account as well, you know ;)

Joe Sherry said...

Which makes you Rob Van Dam? I'll call your RVD and raise you...

Simply...perfect.

Larry said...

Ah, but for SF bloggers, I'm the best there was, the best there is, and the best that will ever be!

Whooo!

Cindy said...

You could have always said you are afraid if you started commenting you'd "Lose your smile" and need to take time off from the world to "Get yourself straight"

(1998 Shawn Michaels ;) )

Larry said...

Cindy,

I think I use similar terminology every few months around here, based on the amount of mini-breaks I plan to take (and end up rarely taking)! :P

Cindy said...

It'd only be fair if at those mini break posts you fake cried also then you'd be the complete HBK.

Larry said...

Maybe I'll try that next time...or maybe I'll just cup my ear, wag my finger, and then do a leg drop of doom on people...

Harry Markov said...

You never seize to be controversial. I have been wondering on what it all means, because in the span of a few weeks there have definitely been 3 or 4 team-ups, in some of which I am involved.

I don't think that we are creating tribal mini-societies. But it is a very interesting observation nonetheless.

Larry said...

Not for sure what you mean here, Harry. What team-ups? If you mean me observing people who pair off and do group projects, I'm just merely observing that it's something that baffles me sometimes and may be a generational/cultural thing. It's certainly not meant to be a pejorative, as while my humor may be a bit edgy at times (again, stereotypical product of the early 90s, I suppose), I'm not one who goes out of his way to denigrate others. Question at times, yes, but never on an ad hominem level.

But you kids can get off my lawn, ya hear? :P

Harry Markov said...

Yes, exactly what I meant. It really is an interesting trend to observe & I am intrigued about why it is so. I am not so sure whether it is about generation, because the bloggers I know, who grouped together vary in age and culture [some are your peers or close to be your peers, if you really are 30-something].

I never said that you existed for the purpose to denigrate. :) [my sort of sarcastic humor for the 00s] I consider it intriguing, because I have been asking the same questions in my head, mostly.

Larry said...

True, there are some around my age (I turn 36 in a little over three months) that engage in this, but in writing this I was struck by two very different responses to social media that I read from two authors that I've interviewed in recent months. One is six years older than I am, the other is about 7 years younger than I am. The older appreciates social media and utilizes it, but has to take breaks from it as being "connected" is a draining experience for him and seems to affect his creativity. The younger commented in an interview question that'll appear in a couple of months on another site that she feels more creative when she's "connected." Funny how I'm right in the middle of that gap.

Again, it's just an observation from someone who may be little more than that cranky old neighbor that means very little to no harm :P

Harry Markov said...

I think it depends on the personality most of the time. I am on Twitter and connect and socialize, but as much as it is fun sometimes, it is equally draining and hard at times as well. Yes, the shift is to get more sociable and 'connected', but it also depends on personal factors, which brings out the diversity.

And for the record, I make an admirable old neighbor shouting at kids to stay off the lawn.

Larry said...

OK, I'll take your word for that last bit! :P

Twitter, or rather the idea of limiting communication to 140 character bursts, is rather limiting for the likes of me, since I tend to write sentences that are much longer than that, much less paragraphs :P

Cindy said...

I'd be a part of a blogger group if it met at the corner of Know Your Role Boulevard and Jabroni Drive and have their meetings in the Smackdown Hotel ;)

Larry said...

Well, at least you aren't shining a Size 11 up right nice for me... ;)

Joe Sherry said...

What in the bluest of blue hells are you talking about?

EH EH!

To be the blogger, you've got to beat the blogger. And I am the Blogger.

Also, Larry, I'm 31 and I want to yell at kids to get off my damn lawn.

Larry said...

WHAT? WHAT?

I'm still the Excellence of Execution around here!

And no kid dares step on my lawn. I have ninja squirrels on my property!

 
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