And The First Results Are In

Why Do People Read Blogs?
I started my “research” today. It consisted of a few random thoughts about it on a short drive home from eating meatloaf (and some really bad mashed potatoes) at a friend’s house. And then doing a quick google on this topic. Is it just me or does it seem like there is always so much we are expected to do in a single day but not enough day to do it in. And I really think the expectations are growing and the days are shrinking. Maybe I’m just getting slower as I age.

The first thing I found out is there is an endless list of blogs on the subject of blogs. It strikes me as funny (or pitiful) that its the subject I chose to start off my blog. But in my defense….. this blog isn’t going to have a theme. It won’t always be about blogging. Tomorrow it could be about brain surgery. My short epics will be random – in keeping with my thought process. That’s what I’ve evolved into. A slow aging woman with random thoughts she wants to share but doesn’t really have the time to do so.

Okay. Back on subject. I’m only going to share with you the information that I think is the most interesting. Sense of community. A group at the University of California-Irvine decided to approach the question “Why do people read blogs?” from the perspective of human-computer interactions, where the humans involved were blog readers mixing in a dose of literary theory. That’s a paraphrase from the actual article. I don’t have permission to to copy the article and I don’t intend to get permission. I’ll show you where it is and you can read it for yourself. Its not that long. http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080409-blogging-meets-literary-theory-in-new-analysis.html
It was a real let down to read that most blog readers described the activity as a habit and used terms such as “wasting time” and “doing nothing”.

This article, written by John Timmer, tells us that this group found

“Even though blogging is an inherently one-to-many activity, most readers felt a personal connection to the author. This could foster the feeling that the reader belonged to the community even in the absence of participation, and led those who did participate via comments to agonize over their content. Only one of the study participants said they enjoyed triggering flame wars; most of the others felt their comments were a form of appreciation for the blog author, and worked hard to make them insightful and cogent.
This produced a distinction between smaller blog communities and popular, news-focused blogs. These didn’t produce the same sense of belonging, and readers tended to focus more on their content than their community. That result suggests that the blogging community will always have a long tail, as readers search for smaller places where they can continue to find a sense of connection with the authors.”

I think they are on to something. As the world grows I feel like it becomes increasingly impersonal. Once upon a time there were small rural communities where everyone knew everyone, neighbors lived side by side most of their lives and actually cared about one another. They helped one another and built relationships with one another. We’re losing that. The internet is just another large and impersonal world. It’s welcoming to find a niche with like minded people… a place (virtual or real) small enough that everyone is someone and gone is the anonymity that sterilizes and characterizes our living experiences these days. I don’t know how you feel but I often feel like an outdated dinosaur thats been hurled out into space from the information overload explosion and I feel lost and disconnected. Sometimes looking inside from the outside at something surreal. And sometimes I feel like I am the only person with the values I have, the questions I have, the opinions I have and I can’t count the times I’ve thought “am I the only one who feels this way about this and that?” What I don’t realize is that there ARE other people and they’re thinking they’re the only ones, too. If our worlds collide and we actually take the time to interact long enough to discover this… well, it’s somehow comforting. You can say to yourself, I’m not the only one, I’m not alone. There are two nuts in the world and we found each other. What are the chances? Obviously pretty good, huh? So why should blogging be any different? People need a sense of belonging. We’ll gravitate towards it. If we stumble onto it by accident we’ll return to it.

There was one other thing I found out in my “research” that is interesting to me and worth sharing with you but I’ll have to do so in my next entry (if my thoughts don’t blow in from a new direction and change course by then). Right now its very late, I’m the only one still up. The weather forecast for this small Missouri town is calling for a “wintry mix” to fall tonight and I heard the ice begin hitting just a few minutes ago. I have to get up early and go to work and I still have clothes drying in the community laundry room. I’m going to ask you this before I go because I really want to know… why do you think people read blogs? Why do you read blogs? Why are you reading this one? and Do you blog?

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