Ming the Mechanic:
Blogger's Block

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Blogger's Block2003-12-25 09:48
by Flemming Funch

Joi Ito writes about the side-effects of having a blog that everybody reads.
"I've had blogger's block lately. As more people read my blog, I realize that I am writing for larger and larger audience. Just about every time I post something, I get thoughtful comments and email from a variety of perspectives. I realize that post early/post often is probably the best policy for blogging, but the rigor in which entries are discussed and the increasing percentage of people who I meet who have read my blog cause me to try to blog about things which are interesting yet not likely to cause me to spend a lot of time defending myself. The fact is, I'm becoming more and more conservative about what I blog. [...]

The problem with many blogs is that the audience includes so many different communities of people that it collapses the facets of one's identity and requires you to choose a rather shallow facet which becomes your public identity. For instance, I know that people in the US State Department, friends from my Chicago DJ days, my employees, my family, thoughtful conservatives from Texas, cypherpunk friends, foreign intelligence officers, Japanese business associates and close friends all read my blog occasionally. In real life, I present a very different facet of my identity to these different communities, but on my blog I have to imagine how all of them will react as a craft these entries. None of them get the depth that I am able to present when I am performing for them directly."
He's right - that's a problem. I get nowhere near the number of readers he does, but I certainly notice that situation. My blog is read by a number of different classes of people that I otherwise wouldn't communicate to in the same way. I've gotten somewhat used to the fact that I can't completely keep them apart and that, on the Internet, if I've said something *anywhere* it might pop up just about anywhere else. But in my blog, despite that I choose what I want to say, it is difficult not to be somewhat self-conscious about how it will be received by different kinds of people. So, for myself, I notice that the result is that I become more conservative than I otherwise would be. I post stuff that I know I'd be able to defend. To people I work with, to my neighbors, to techies on the net, to people who think I belong to a certain philosophical tradition, to people who think I'm writing for a particular online community, to my mom. It is both cool that I can somewhat succeed in speaking in the same somewhat authentic voice to all of these people. And it is frustrating that it also becomes somewhat more guarded, shallow and academic than what I'd really like. I think it is probably overall a healthy process, but also one that it is hard to be completely satisfied with. And, luckily, blogging isn't the only way we have of communicating.

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25 Dec 2003 @ 13:27 by Paul Hughes @ : On Self-Censorship
I don't get as many hits as either you or Joi, maybe a 100 unique visitors a day, but I do relate to this. I became initially popular for writing about technological trends that liberate rather than oppress, and that now makes up the majority of my readership. These last few months, I started getting more personal, including discussing alternative medicine, transpersonal psychology, etc, and alienated part of my audience, even though that is an equal part of who I am.

I'm still struggling with writing whatever I want, or catering to a larger audience in order to get the 'message' out.  

26 Dec 2003 @ 03:05 by lugon @ : categories

You can use categories ("technology", "personal") so readers may select the facet they want to relate to.

That way, the decision on "which facet to use" sort bounces back to them. Complexity table-tennis.

This could of course be an option buried in some small-font sub-menu, or else something really simple, straight-forward, "assumed" ... in time.

With so many options, I tend to be growingly aware of the "zero option": turn it all off.  

26 Dec 2003 @ 07:45 by ming : Categories
I have categories in my blog, although they don't particularly split up the users. I notice some people have several blogs, for different themes and audiences. For me I actually think it would make it worse for me, as I then somehow get more self-conscience about staying to the subject or target audience. What I like about blogs is exactly that I can write about whatever is on top of my head, without figuring out where exactly it fits in or who should read it.  

28 Dec 2003 @ 03:23 by andy @ : Cardboard cut-outs?
Interesting. I have only a tiny number of visitors compared to you guys (maybe 30 a day) so at the moment I have no worries about what I post. I post what I feel and I intend to keep it that way. If people read it, great, if not, so what? I'll have said what I wanted to say. In a way, my blog is a way of exploring who I am - if people read it, I'd like it to be because they're drawn to that real person, not to some cardboard cut-out that I've created for their benefit.  

28 Dec 2003 @ 06:44 by ming : Cardboard
That's probably how we'd all like it. In a certain way I'd prefer if my blog was something I just wrote for myself, and then it just somehow got published later without me thinking about it. I used to write like that and it worked well. But blogs are sort of more immediate, and if there are comments turned on, you get feedback the same day. Which is both nice, but it also changes what I'll feel like writing about. So is a blog about creating a suitably interesing, but not too offensive, cardboard cut-out I can present to anybody who cares about me? To some degree. But it is also a bit of an authentic web-cam into my mind. Must be possible to find a balance where one doesn't have to censor oneself too much.  

28 Dec 2003 @ 08:11 by andy @ : Web-cam
"Web-cam into my mind..." That's by far the best one-line description of a blog I've ever come across. Brilliant.  

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