Friday, September 08, 2006

All About Blog

Fellow Self Portrait Challenger Sarah-Jean tagged me on this very interesting meme about blogging. Thanks, SJ!

1) Are you happy/satisfied with your blog’s content and look?

Look: One of the reasons I haven't switched to WordPress is because I like the ability to completely control the design of my page. Actually, I'm pretty satisfied with it, although I've been tired of the ever-changing background and highlight color scheme. I never cease to get snide comments from CERTAIN people when it happens to pop up bright pink.

I like changing out the banner with the seasons. Has anyone noticed that? I'll put the fall one back up (I've gone around the horn!) probably next month, since everyone knows autumn doesn't arrive for real in East Tennessee till mid-October at the earliest.

I'd like to design the page to reflect the cover of this book since the name of the blog is taken from it and its companions, but I haven't been able to really work the blog format into the idea. Maybe I'll buckle down and make the big change when the movie comes out.

Content: For someone with a lot of ideas swirling around in his (muddled) head, I don't seem to be able to put them into the keyboard as well or as often as I'd like. I'm passionate about certain issues, many of those pertaining to children and art, but I think political blogs have ruined to a certain degree the burgeoning art of creative blogging (more about that later). I don't have the writing skills to be a Lileks and make the occasional trip to Target a Pulitzer Prize-winning essay on Americana, nor do I exude poetry from my pores (example: see previous five words) and keep a reading audience spellbound.

Interestingly, I seem to blog more when my mind is relatively untroubled. If you see my posts get few and far between, you know I have something on my mind. If I spew forth with great frequency, things are better. Feel free to check my posting history for my cyber-rhythm.

I hope my content overall is found to people's liking - obviously if you're reading this, you have some interest in my life. I try to touch on theatre, nostalgia, parenting and kids, a few current events, the occasional amusing anecdote, and once in a while I come up with someone so crass I have to run it by my censor first. Thanks, MKS! No, that post will never see the light of day...

2) Does your family know about your blog?

Yes, my wife and my parents all read my site. I think my brother in Austin knows about it, but I don't think he's ever commented. It does make me think twice sometimes about the things I write about, although usually the most I have to filter is my language :) Which isn't that bad in the first place, really, so, no worries mom.

3) Do you feel embarrassed to let your friends know about your blog? Do you consider it a private thing?

There aren't many offline friends that know about my blog, and those who do I've told I trust to keep it to themselves. I like to have SOME freedom in the things I write about, since the things that happen in my life often inspire commentary and if there was always a possibility someone I knew read about themselves (however anonymously I put it) and was offended, I'd feel badly about it.

I do avoid talking about work very much, since that kind of thing can really come back and bite you. Nope, don't type about work much at all.

There are a number of offline friends that are also bloggers, so of course we know about each other (Michael, Lane, Teresa, Tish, and "The Beast")

4) Did blogging cause positive changes in your thoughts?

I'm not sure they were all necessary positive, but blogging has certainly opened my mind to a lot of things, especially political and cultural worlds I never knew existed.

I find myself, through blogs, paying more attention to local and national events, forming opinions where before I might've not noticed them. I watch local government and marvel at the duplicity and elitism of it all. I've become more attuned to the mindset of different things our country does, both overseas and at home, and how the citizens react to them. I've gained insight into the many ways couples relate to each other and how they raise their kids. And I've enjoyed seeing new posts from the bloggers that I frequent, and have had fun getting to know people I never would've met otherwise.

I think that's a positive!

5) Do you only open the blogs of those who comment on your blog or do you love to go and discover more by yourself?

There are three or four separate categories of blogs I visit: 1) Rocky Top Brigade bloggers, the loose Tennessee coalition that has been in existence for several years, 2) Local Knoxville bloggers that I have met through various sources, 3) Commenters who come to my site via someone else or a search engine - I typically visit the site of anyone who comments and try to at least give their blog a few days of return visits. If I enjoy what I read, I'll keep coming back. And the latest set, 4) Self Portrait Challenge bloggers - I've made a few new friends via this feature and have added several sites to my daily reads.

So there are several ways I find new sites. I don't always comment (though I try) but I'm there.

6) What does a visitor counter mean to you? Do you like having one on your blog?

I find myself looking at and analyzing my StatTracker all the time. I just recently added Google Analytics to the site as well, and the numbers are a bit different.

I'd love to see tons of visits every day, but I usually only average about 80 or so. I don't think my content is edgy, controversial, or eloquent enough to garner a lot of interest, but those who do come because we're friends or you enjoy the things I have to say (i.e. you who are reading this now) I humbly thank you :)

7) Did you try to imagine your fellow bloggers and give them real pictures?

I don't think I've tried that but I really for bloggers to have a photo of themselves on their site somewhere, so I can place a face with a writing style. It just makes it a lot easier to imagine the words percolating through a brain if I can picture the facial expressions and body language.

8) Admit it. Do you think there is any real benefit in blogging?

I think it means different things for different people. I don't think you should blog if you have nothing really to say except to parrot what other people are saying. You shouldn't try to be controversial for controversy's sake. And don't be a flamer disguised as a "free thinking" site. You're not fooling anybody.

As I said above, blogging helps folks make contact with others they might not normally meet in real life - although that's true of almost any online community. But blogging opens people up, lets them talk about themselves and their lives in a manner they might not with even their best friends. Opinions, thoughts, fears, emotions, prejudices, whatever...they can be posted on a blog and an instant family of readers has access to comment and offer feedback and support.

Our world has an epidemic of loneliness and an increasing amount of separation from each other, even as our communication technology connects every square millimiter of the globe. Anything to bring people together and create real communication is of great benefit.

9) Do you think that blogger’s society is isolated from the real world or interaction with events?

I do think political bloggers think a lot more highly of themselves and of their impact on the rest of the world than is warranted. I also think bloggers who primarily post about current events, politics, and other "serious" material tend to look down on those who mainly blog about their own lives and their own worlds. I'm not sure where that comes from, I think mainly because they tend to see themselves as crusaders and mavericks ready to take on the establishment, which to some is a very noble calling and deserving of respect and admiration.


Anyway, I do however believe that blogging is becoming more a part of society in general, but it's still a niche and not an overwhelming amount of people understand what it is or what it does.

10) Does criticism annoy you or do you feel it’s a normal thing?

I've had one major criticism incident while blogging - long time readers may remember the "concealed weapon carry" incident. I won't go into it here (feel free to explore the link) but suffice to say a stray comment on another site ignited a bit of a firestorm and spilled over to my site. I felt the need to respond and the furor died down soon after. It bothered me for a good while, because while blogs offer the freedom to speak your mind, you also have to accept the possibility (and in some cases the inevitabilty) of being attacked for your views. Healthy debate is great, unjust name-calling and criticizing is not.

While it's normal, it's not healthy and has little place in the online community. Well, outside of those certain dark places where no good and no light can ever come. You know, like University of Florida football...

11) Do you fear some political blogs and avoid them?

Fear them? Ha. I laugh in the face of danger. Ha ha ha ha ha...

Actually, I covered this a bit above. I don't avoid political blogs per se, but I do avoid those that profess particular allegience to a political party (any of them) because the kind of blind obedience to a party and platform is one of the biggest problems facing the country today. So I don't support or patronize those sites.

12) Were you shocked by the arrest of some bloggers?

What? Who got arrested? I missed it...

Ok, Doug, what did you hack into?

13) What do you think will happen to your blog after you die?

It will be bronzed and put on a shelf in the Smithsonian Institution between Max Klinger's dress and Kermit the Frog.

14) What song do you like to hear? What song would you like to link to on your blog?

Wow, these questions kind of got totally random, didn't they?

Um, any song's of - especially if they're by the Atomic Horns (coming soon to a Knoxville area venue near you!).

15) The next “victims”?

Hmm.. Since I got this from an SPC participant, I'll pass along the favor...

1. Nikki
2. Georgia
3. Deb R
4. And what the heck, Tish.

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