Why blog?

I have a few friends that have heard of blogs, and even fewer that actually read them (though most of them read “established” blogs like those from Fox News or CNN personalities), but I don’t know if I can honestly say I have any friends (or work colleagues) that actively blog themselves. Not sure why, maybe they don’t like to write. Maybe they don’t understand the great benefits of blogging. Maybe they don’t care.

When the word blog was recently revealed as Merriam-Webster’s word of the year, I was asked what the big deal about blogs is, why there is such a big discussion about it, and what makes it different from “the internet.” (If you haven’t figured it out yet, I run in some pretty non-online crowds.) I came up with a few things to say, but couldn’t quite get my feelings and point across.

Fortunately for me, Lilia came to the rescue this morning with her post Blogging as breathing or how to find time for blogging? She provides the following “brainstorm” of the role of blogging in her work:

  • professional awareness
    • I read weblogs instead of reading mailing lists and searching professional web-sites to stay updated with news and trends
  • work-related search
    • saving time for searching as in many cases I come across papers/information I need for my work via weblogs and blog/bookmark it
    • social search – very often I know whom to ask for a specific information/advice
  • networking
    • reading weblogs is a low-cost way to stay in touch with others (if they have weblogs 🙂
    • writing my own weblog exposes my own work and expertise, so it’s easier to establish contacts
    • better use of f2f time as with bloggers there is no need for updates on each other news
  • conversations
    • getting help or answers fast without being too intrusive
    • feedback on ideas and early drafts
    • development of ideas in a community (actually: in different communities 🙂
  • research
    • data collection, interpretation and presentation (e.g. as everyday grounded theory)
      • reading other weblogs and being a blogger are part of my data collection instruments
      • I use my weblog to test my interpretations and to get a feedback on ways of presenting some pieces of research
    • weblog as a research notebook
      • keeping notes on reading, research progress, ideas, publications
      • organising notes into themes to support thinking and future retrieval
    • writing
      • low-threshold space to start writing that helps to start small when working on large pieces (like papers or PhD as a whole)
      • space to get an early (or urgent 🙂 feedback on writing
    • getting emotional support

I have found myself using blogs mostly in support of Research and Professional Awareness, so my answer to Why Blog kind of focused on those. The Networking and Conversation aspects that Lilia mentioned I think will have a bit more resonance with many of the people I know.