A week or two ago I posted something about how my blogging is “bursty” — that is, I tend to do my blogging in clumps of 4 or 5 messages every few weeks. Unlike the real powerhouse blogs on the web that do multiple messages each day. One of my good friends (Nikhyl) wondered if it’s because my posts tend to be sort of long and deep — that I spend a fair amount of time thinking about things before I really write them down. (As an aside, I’m beginning to think this is a character trait of me, which is strange to get used to, because a lot of times I say the first dumb thing that pops into my head.) Nikhyl further noticed that the trend in blogs is actually away from this type of post, and more towards the 3 line or 1 photo snapshot of what the person is doing/what the latest gadget is/whatever.
Here’s what Nikhyl’s comment reminded me of: back in 1990/91 at Stanford, when I started to exchange e-mail with my dad. It was sort of a funny set of exchanges: he’d send me pretty long e-mails that were essentially letters that you’d mail in a previous time. I’d send back incredibly emotional 2 line responses that were basically along the lines of: “hey — got your note — life is going great here.” Not exactly tear-jerkers. Funnily enough, when I was at my dad’s house last summer, we found some of his old letters home from school — and while they weren’t e-mail, they were much more in line with my notes from Stanford than my dad’s notes to me.
I guess I had in my head that over the first few years of e-mailing my dad, that our styles converged, and that we ended up exchanging medium-sized messages with each other. But I now think that’s wrong. What really happened is that it became okay to send a one-line message. And also okay to send a longer, letter-type message. And which form it took was meaningful as well.
The very first thing that I thought to myself when Nikhyl brought up his point is this: “I wonder if I’m using blogs like they’re e-mail, and I’m missing the essential “blogginess” — just like beginner e-mailers use e-mail like it’s pen & paper & postage.” It made me feel a little outdated, honestly.
After thinking about it for a while, though, I think there are just lots of different reasons why people write, e-mail, blog, whatever. Sometimes you really do want to communicate a blow-by-blow of the events that are happening in your life. Sometimes you want to just capture a fleeting idea/feeling/image. Sometimes you want to communicate an idea to the people in the world that are closest to you. I think some people do it to feel more connected with friends and family. And sometimes you just need to have a formal way to articulate things that are swirling around in your head. I do a lot of that last bit — I’m not sure why drafting ideas in the form of a post or an e-mail helps, but it does. It means that I’ve got to try to communicate with the hope of being understood — maybe it makes me work harder to get my point out. But I suppose there are lots of reasons above & beyond what I just mentioned.
Anyway, I don’t really know. I think it’s an interesting thing. My big insight here I think is just this: everyone is different. It’s nice that blogs can support a small portion of that diversity.