The blogging dilemma

I have two opposing arguments in my head. One that wants me to support blogging and one that makes me ignore it. I can’t seem to convince myself to choose a side. But does it really matter if I choose a side?

The internet has given everyone a platform to publish. An ability to share their views and thoughts on absolutely anything with those of their choosing or with the world at large. Surely that is a good thing but as a consumer of media, I feel overwhelmed with the sheer volume of things being created. There is just too much to keep up with.

We have so many quality newspapers, great TV channels, lots of interesting people to follow on twitter, good friends to keep up with on facebook and of course, there is the non-virtual life stuff. With a limited 24 hours daily, I would be surprised to find anyone who is able to keep abreast with everything and not feel overpowered by it all.

My solution to the problem was the information diet. Oh yes, it works if followed like the bible. But unlike a normal diet, this diet is much harder because all it takes to break the diet is the click of a mouse. I do my best to keep up with the diet and what allows me to keep going this way is the presence of a cheat day. It is that one day a week when I allow myself the luxury of reading/watching/stalking whatever I like.

It’s on the cheat day that I open my google reader to find 100+ unread blog posts. I quickly skim through and read what I like (a few). It’s rare that I ever reach the end of the list before the end of the day. Those unread blog posts usually remain unread and the number of unread posts keeps growing. It’s those unread blog posts which have incited me to write this blog post (what an irony!)

I look at that growing number on my google reader and I feel like saying ‘what a waste!’. All those hours that really good people have spent writing those blog posts have gone to waste. And even if I forget the ones that I did not read, what is it that I gain from the ones that I do end up reading? May be a few moments of pleasure and wonder. If that’s all that blog posts are worth and if most will remain as unread posts in someone’s reader then isn’t blogging a big waste of time? These are thoughts that pursue me to ignore blogging.

But then I remember. Every week I derive immense pleasure in being able to share my thoughts here on this blog. I know people read the posts (at least a few). If their two minutes were spent reading this then I better write something that is worth their time. But it’s not just about them (although readers are very important), it’s also about me.  I learn every day. I can see a part of myself evolve with every blog post. There is a peculiar sense of joy in being able to convert a thought into a well-written piece of prose.

Beyond the reader’s pleasure and mine, there is something that we tend to ignore about the power of blogs. They can be places to gain some really good ideas. Steven Johnson explains this is in a superb talk (only 4 mins). He says that good ideas usually come from a process he calls the slow hunch. That usually, a good idea is a combination of two or more part ideas. This combination occurs when you allow them to brew in your head for sometime. This time allows them to come together in your head, if you have all the part ideas, or allows you to gather the remaining part ideas from people you meet, places you visit and things you learn.

Reading blogs can more often than not serve that purpose. A blog is usually a place where raw ideas are shared and they are given for free to the readers for use. You can find parts of that great idea which has been waiting for its remaining parts and waiting to mature. I subscribe to a selected few blogs through email. These are the blogs that I religiously read and I’ve found many really good ideas through them. It’s probably because I’ve taken the time to grab everything that is on offer which meant that I did not miss out on that part idea which I was looking for.

There is one another advantage of reading blogs which is commonly ignored. If you read someone’s blog and read enough of it, you connect with the person in a way which is very different from any other connection that you can have with the person. Whenever I have to look someone up on the web, I try to look if they have a personal website or blog. If it’s someone you want to impress then just the words, “I read on your blog..” are enough to make the person take notice of you and give you a great first impression.

So should I support blogging or ignore it? As with most answers in life, there isn’t a yes or no answer to this. There are certainly a lot of poor blogs out there. They simply don’t deserve your attention but then there are some which absolutely do deserve your attention. It’s for you to find them. As for whether you should blog or not? I think it’s a very personal choice and one that only you can make. May be this extended conversation on blogging will be of some help.

Written while listening to Chillout radio on Last.fm.

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