Warning: this is going to be meta-writing. I’m going to blog about blogging.
Meri has written a great post called Better vs. Different. In it, she follows up some of the issues that Molly has written about. Speaking specifically about blogs, she writes:
"Part of the problem here is the definition of what is seen to be the "good content" of blogs (especially technical blogs) - most of the very popular technical blogs are extremely focused. They are quite narrow in what they encompass, very detailed, even extending to code samples a great deal of the time."
This is something that I’ve noticed before and it’s always bothered me slightly. I can see why focus is good but it can also be somewhat alienating.
If someone only ever blogs about web standards, I’m only ever going to see one facet of their life. That’s fine. I’m sure that many people quite deliberately want to show just one side of their personality to the outside world.
But to me, personal publishing has always been about connecting with people on a more personal level. I must admit that I get squeamish when designers and developers talk about how great blogs are as a tool for getting noticed professionally. It’s true but the danger comes in allowing that you dictate what you publish online. My gag reflex kicks in whenever I hear that words "leverage" and "blog" in the same sentence.
Don’t get me wrong: blogs can be great resources for finding solutions to technical problems as well as being somewhere where technical issues can be discussed. It’s just that the emphasis in the term "personal publishing" is shifted away from the personal and more towards the publishing.
Personally, I’ve always enjoyed blogs that veer wildly from topic to topic. Most people are very multi-faceted and I like it when that is reflected in their online writing. People like Molly and Jessica spring to mind. As Meri rightly points out, this more open, honest style of blogging seems to be more common amongst women:
"Women multitask. Don’t tell me men do this to the same extent - I love guys and I work well with them, but they can’t juggle anywhere near as well. Because we multitask, we’re more likely to fall into the hybrid blogger category - writing about all the things that interest us."
I enjoy using this journal as a lens that focuses what’s going on in my life and projects those things on to a web page. I know that lately I seem to be writing about purely technical stuff but that’s only because lately, that’s all I seem to be doing. I hope that my usual random waffling will recommence soon.
To be honest, the grab-bag nature of my writing is one of the reasons why I don’t have comments here. I think comments can be great for building an audience but I’m not so sure they work for audiences, plural. In my experience, comments work best on the really focused blogs. In fact, I think comments can act to actively narrow the focus of blogs that were once broader in scope.
Still, I can see their value on selected posts. Maybe I’ll introduce comments on some of my more techie posts. I just don’t want to hear any complaining when I start posting movies of puppies.