Brainstorms and Raves

Notes on Web Design, Development, Standards, Typography, Music, and More

Mon

25

DEC

2000

What’s it all about, Bloggie? A revisit of What’s the craze all about with Blogs? Or is it crazy?

The lyrics to Hal David’s and Burt Bacharach’s Alfie, "What’s it all about, Alfie...." (lyrics below) come to mind, as I genuinely wish to understand what’s behind many of the blogs I see.

Several times now in the past month I’ve scanned through some of the weblog directories to see what’s out there, exploring to find something interesting, or hoping to stumble upon some captivating, earth-shattering tidbit. There are many that share such helpful resources and information, others that share thoughts about the news or latest happenings, and others that share very personal information about their lives. Brainstorms & Raves has a listing of some of the better ones, Recommended Weblogs.

What really sparks my curiosity is the phenomenon that I see as someone’s very private life or random thoughts jotted down and published online via weblogs.

"My eyes burn, my body aches, I have a nasty hangnail on the left side of my right thumbnail which smarts every time I hit the spacebar. So what am I doing? 'writing in my online journal'... something’s wrong here. It’s only 6pm, but I’ve already showered and I think I’m going to bed really soon."

(I didn’t make this up! I found it at borrowed blogs.)

I’m very curious about this trend of many people so openly sharing their private thoughts on the Internet for anyone to read. I doubt that the diaries with locks and keys will disappear, as there are still plenty of us out there who don’t care to share our private thoughts with the entire world.

On the other hand, what seems private to me may not be private to someone else.

Perhaps I’m being overly analytical by looking for a deeper reason, like a need for connection. Maybe the reality is that it’s simply a fun new technology that people enjoy playing with and using. I suspect there are at least as many reasons as there are people writing these weblogs.

In the midst of my explorations I came across Karen Weber’s weblog about how she is living with breast cancer, sharing her daily life and feelings and including resources for families and others with breast cancer or anyone interested. Tears came to my eyes the first time I read her entries, and they still come to my eyes reading this incredible journey. I also feel such inspiration to see her strength and courage (I don’t know her at all. I just stumbled onto it from the Blogger Directory).

I also see evidence of a positive impact that the Internet and weblogs can have on people staying in touch with each other. USA Weekend wrote a report on staying connected via the Internet:

As relatives and friends grow apart and the sterility of technology makes us feel detached, some say the Internet actually helps them keep in touch—and in many cases grow closer...

Conventional wisdom tells us our mobility, heavy work schedules and growing reliance on technology estrange us from our family. But there is growing evidence that just the opposite is true. More and more, families use technology to help them connect, and when they do, many report that technology is changing—and often improving—their relationships with one another.

...recent studies by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press and the Pew Internet and American Life Project show that 53% of Americans now use cell phones, 67% use computers, and 55 million Americans use the Internet daily. The commercial benefits and convenience of this technology aside, more than half the people surveyed said exchanging e-mail with family members actually has improved their relationships.

I’ve seen this happen in my own life, where I’m able to connect with people and stay in touch better than ever before using email especially, and also sharing family photos and stories with relatives far away or even in the same town.

A delightfully creative project by Garret P. Vreeland, Behind the Curtain, A Day in the Life of Webloggers, makes great use of staying connected and weblogging. Over 110 people worldwide joined together to follow a day in their lives by snapping photos and writing in their weblogs throughout a 24-hour period during September, 2000 to give glimpses of their lives. Why did they do this? Here’s what the site says in response:

"why did everyone get together and make this project happen?

call it basic human curiousity.

we are interested in seeing how people live and work all across this world of ours, and how internet technology fits into their daily lives. we make a great deal of assumptions, all over the world, about how the 'other' lives and works. this is an effort to peel away the geopolitics, stereotypes and preconceived notions ... and look at the lives of individuals.

we also want to peek 'behind the curtain' ... the reference to 'the wizard of oz' should be obvious. "pay no attention to that man behind the curtain" ... but it’s the wizard who is the unintended catalyst of events. we all sit behind the curtain of our weblogs, punching keys and pushing buttons, linking to things that have the potential to substantially change others' lives and opinions. that’s incredibly powerful. we’re all wizards, in our own right. but each wizard is 'just' a person ... and it’s that person we’re curious about. because of distance, we can’t all sit across from one another at a coffeeshop somewhere and talk. this project was intended to help push that curtain back a little, and give this phenomenon of weblogging a human face."

I have friends and colleagues who participated in this project. It was clearly a lot of fun, as you can see if you explore the gallery there.

Four more fabulous and totally different uses of weblogging are Jeffrey Zeldman’s My Glamorous Life, Joel Spolsky’s Joel on Software, Dave Winer’s Scripting News, and k10k.

[Side note: Once again scanning Blogger’s Directories, I found Barr’s English Blog with a description that really made me chuckle:

"A diary of my dumpster diving through the web in search of snacks for the kids   Come to class"

When I clicked on the link to the class, I then learned that he’s an English teacher at Nantucket High School who’s getting his honors students to turn in their homework via email to learn the Internet technology. Lots of interesting peeks into daily lives.]

So what conclusions have I reached? No major conclusions for now except that this weblogging technology will find as many uses as there are people, it seems. If it helps us connect with each other better, whether through sharing personal information, thoughts, news, or anything else, then I think we can greatly benefit. We’ll see how it all goes.

In the meantime, here are the lyrics to "Alfie" by Burt Bacharach and Hal David.

Alfie
Words and Music
copyright © Burt Bacharach and Hal David

What’s it all about, Alfie?
Is it just for the moment we live?
What’s it all about
When you sort it out, Alfie?
Are we meant to take more
Than we give
Or are we meant to be kind?

And if only fools are kind, Alfie,
Then I guess it’s wise to be cruel.
And if life belongs
Only to the strong, Alfie,
What will you lend
On an old golden rule?
As sure as I believe
There’s a heaven above, Alfie,
I know there’s something much more,
Something even non-believers
Can believe in.

I believe in love, Alfie.
Without true love
We just exist, Alfie.
Until you find
The love you’ve missed
You’re nothing, Alfie.
When you walk
Let your heart lead the way
And you’ll find love any day, Alfie, Alfie.

08:11 pm, pst25 December, 2000 Comments, Trackbacks ·

Categories: Weblogs

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