Sunday, July 02, 2006

BLOGLAND
(News-Herald, June 29) I’ve been dipping into the land of blogs lately, one of those delightful phenomenon of the internet.
For those of you not already in the know, blog is short for weblog, and it is essentially a way to keep a personal journal on line. On top of that, people can ask questions and leave comments.
Why exactly would anyone want to leave a personal journal lying around where anyone on the planet could both read it and scribble in the margins?
In some cases it’s just plain ego. I’ve found blogs in which people chronicle every detail of daily life under such stirring titles as “Thought of a Geek” or “Lifejourney of a Girl Becoming a Young Woman.” There is a blog in which a woman appears to have spent the last two years letting the world know when she has watered the lawn and what she has fed her cat.
The ego display blogs are not particularly interesting. You just get to see how people act when they imagine they are performing for some sort of large audience that finds them as fascinating as they wish they were. As one subtitle puts it, “My meanderings made less trivial because I blogged about it.”
But there are other blogs from people who simply write about who they are instead of the characters they want to pretend to be.
These are interesting precisely because they are real people. They are not pigeonholed or pre-processed, and they are not interested in sticking strictly to some party line. Among the political blogs you can find people who defy any easy labeling but who have carefully thought-out beliefs; the exact opposite of the real political world, where people have no thoughts at all, but make sure they have their labels firmly affixed.
But more than that, you can find places and lives presented that you might never know about otherwise. So we can read evilBuddha (evilbuddha.blogspot.com), a gay Chinese-American in New York; or Farmgirl Fare (foodiefarmgirl.blogspot.com), which chronicles the life of a woman who sold her California bakery business a decade ago to buy a farm in rural Missouri; or Islam and the West (kashmiri-nomad.blogspot.com) by a Kashmiri-born Muslim living in Western Europe; or Conservative Cat (conservativecat.com), billed as “the fifth best site for conservative humor on the web.”
Beyond the blogs that present personal points of view, there are blogs devoted to various interests. I have found a frighteningly large number of blogs devoted to professional wrestling. There are also blogs devoted to bands, tv shows, and various hobbies.
Blogs are the next step beyond email for linking people together over the net. As a teacher, I’ve enjoyed the advent of email. It used to be that a student struggling with a question late at night over the weekend would have to consider whether or not to call me on the phone. Email is vastly superior; they can send it at any hour, and I don’t have to wake up to answer it.
Now with a blog, not only can they leave the question, but I can put the answer up on line where any of the other students can also see it. No need for me to re-answer the same question; no need for them to try to hang on to the email with the answer in it.
Many folks have discovered the joy of emailing baby pictures to relatives all across the country. Blogging lets them put the pictures up where they can be found and enjoyed at any time from any computer. The many blog hosting services (blogspot.com is mine, but there are several good ones) make creating a blog as easy as typing a letter in Word. It took me less than five minutes to set mine up.
That linking feature is evident in two blogs of particular interest to Venangoland residents.
Writer, professor and general raconteur Mike Dittman runs Venangago-go (venangago-go.blogspot.com), a blog that collects current information about the arts and culture throughout the region.
A newer blog is Venango County Unite (venco.blogspot.com) that’s run by a folks interested in Venangoland, some still local, and some moved far out of the area. They appear to be interested in discussing some of the economic, political and cultural issues that face the county; it’s a worthy effort, and unites locals and ex-patriates in a way that no other forum could.
I recommend both sites. And you’ll notice that most blogs on blogspot.com come with a “next blog” button in the top corner that lets you surf randomly through the land o’blogs. It’s a big old world filled with interesting people. I encourage you to give it a look.

1 comment:

Steven Covell said...

Nice to see you in the blogosphere! It's been a while since I've spoken to you or said hello. You'll see a cool little pattern in the web; people do not maintain "webpages" anymore, but rather personas in the form of profiles (myspace, tagworld, blah blah blah, etc..) and Blogs. Other than professionals, most sites I browse through for research are corporate, portfolios, and blogs or all three entwined. Later Mr. Greene.

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