When memes attack! Five reasons why I blog

Before you groan too vigorously, yes, this is another ‘me’ post, but I got tagged by the inestimable Sterling Camden, and he’s been a loyal VCTB reader for too long for me to let him down. Truth be told, I’m about a day late on this anyway – been slack on checking my Technorati egoboo. For shame!

So, as the title might suggest, the name of the game here is to list five reasons why you’re a blogger. I suspect I’m not unique in that those reasons have changed and developed over time – and with that in mind, I shall present my five reasons chronologically, in the order they became apparent (or overarching, as the case may be).

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To foster a discipline of doing something creative in the evenings. A year and a half ago, my evening ritual usually involved settling down with a few beers, some loud music and a good book. But for a long time, I’d been one of those “I’d like to be a writer” types, and I eventually noticed one constantly repeated bit of advice – if you want to be a writer, you’d best stop making excuses and get used to writing every day. I figured an online journal that my mates could read would be a good start, and so I set myself up at MySpazz.

To share cool stuff with people. Once you start trawling other blogs, you instantly get the urge to spread the stuff you find around. I’ve always been rather averse to forwarded emails, and so blogging seemed a nice, unobtrusive opt-in method for letting people know what I’d discovered recently. Only most of my friends weren’t too bothered – they were more focussed on certain local forums and other social sites, and once I abandoned MySpazz and it’s clunky banner-laden API and headed out to Blogger (with its clunky banner-free API), I was out in the Styx with little company. This was round about the time that I discovered Technorati and del.icio.us

For the buzz of having an audience. I think that anyone who blogs outside of their job who doesn’t admit to this one is probably lying. I didn’t really start getting many regulars until I hooked up with Feedburner, although there were a few curious souls who never announced themselves. But once I was syndicating in a way that allowed me to see that people were coming back every day, I was utterly hooked – I remember clearly the first time I had over twenty five readers, because I went around telling people at work who largely replied with “what are these ‘blog’ things, anyway?”

Then I started stumbling over the term ‘SEO‘ a lot, shortly after setting up with WordPress here at Velcro City (about a year ago now), and eventually started bolting in code to crank what meagre Google juice I could garner. I don’t think that helped anywhere near as much as my gradual move away from being a pauper’s BoingBoing to actually sticking to the somewhat nebulous theme of science fictional things (check the early archives if you don’t believe me, but I’ll warn you, it’s not pretty). Which brings us to …

Engaging with the science fiction community at large. My blogging career pretty much parallels my involvement with organised sf fandom, as well as my career as a book reviewer. I discovered blogs by Bruce Sterling, Charles Stross, the Nielsen-Haydens and many more, through links on sites like Slashdot or BoingBoing, and began republishing my first Interzone reviews. Gradually I was osmosed through the membrane – to the point where writers, reviewers, critics and editors I respect immensely are among the people who read my ramblings on a daily basis – or who at least skim the headlines to see if I’ve posted anything substantial for a change!

Because it feels like something I was always meant to do. I’ve always been an info junkie, and always lamented the lack of like-minded folk I know in meatspace with whom to share my joy in random data acquisition. Blogging feeds my head with more crazy crap and way-out science than I ever imagined could happen in the world from day to day; blogging lets me metaphorically flail my arms and point to things while sputtering “how phracking awesome is that!”; blogging helps me learn how to communicate more effectively in the written form, and I like to think I’m slowly unearthing the beginnings of my non-fiction ‘voice’.

However, blogging is also a time-suck; an antisocial geek hobby that keeps me indoors on a cheap army surplus swivel chair for four or more hours a day; a constant niggle in my mind whenever I’m withing twenty meters of an internet connection; a terrible barrier to forming healthymeatspace relationships with the opposite sex. But on balance, it’s blogging FTW. It satisfies something I didn’t know needed satifying. Maybe it won’t do so for ever – I’m almost certain I’ll pull back from my current output levels, and probably quite soon, if only for the sake of greater productivity in more creative fields of endeavour. But for now, the square peg has found a comfortable hole to rest in, and that’s just fine by me.

***

So there you have it. All that remains is to pass on the memetic taint (mwah-hah-hah!) to five other bloggers who read VCTB, so let’s see what responses we can get from:

  • William Gillis of Human Iterations (who is sure to have something strong to say about the medium as a conduit for far more serious material than this);
  • Sarah Washford of Info Junkie, fellow denizen of the UK public library service;
  • Sofie Loizou, Aussie artist and musician;
  • Bill from Technovelgy (who gave VCTB its very first non-spam link-back, bless him);
  • and last but not least, Aaron Udy of UnderYourNose, one of the few readers I know in meatspace as well as cyber.

I’ve biased that selection away from people who blog as part of (one of) their jobs, but the more the merrier – if some editors, critics, reviewers or general genre newshounds and scenesters, or even a writer or two would like to speak up, I’m sure no one is going to mind at all, least of all me. If your blog doesn’t support pingbacks, please leave note of a reply in the comments, if you would be so kind.

So, why do you blog?

8 thoughts on “When memes attack! Five reasons why I blog”

  1. Hi. I just wanted to let you know that I recently discovered your blog, and I’ve really been enjoying it. I find that I blog for many of the same reasons that you do. Keep up the good work. I’ll be reading.

  2. I’m in as well, though I too need a bit of mull-time. I’m guessing I’ll post my response later this evening at urban-drift.com.

  3. That’ll teach me to read books instead of blogging for a few evenings, go offline for a while and you get tagged!! I’ll respond later today once I’ve decided who else to tag…

  4. Five reasons why I blog. That’s a tough one.

    (1) There is a lot of great science fiction (great writing!) that is effectively lost; I wanted to bring it out of the used book stores where people could see it in a modern context and read about it.

    (2) I have a certain mania for minutiae…

    (3) I really do have this feeling I’ve seen [this technology, that event] before, and it’s not some sort of vague deja vu – I really have read about it before. Reading great sf writers has prepared me for the world we live in today. I wanted to credit the efforts of these terrific writers and futurists.

    (4) I wanted to bring something unique into being. Around Christmas of 2003 I had this idea; a database of science fiction ideas and “inventions,” or as I call it, technovelgy. After building a database, populating it with articles about 450 items from a hundred books by fifty authors, I built the site, which went online in September of 2004. Technovelgy.com now has about 2,600 articles and stories (“blog posts” to you guys), along with thousands of comment pages and cross-reference pages.

    (5) Creating things on the Internet is, for me, a perfect mix of programming and writing. I should confess; Technovelgy.com is really not strictly speaking a “blog,” it’s an application I’ve been building. It has a database architectue; it has lots of features (more coming – yes, I’ve been working on tagging). Back in the day, my SAT score was almost exactly balanced between the math/science and verbal parts; in college, I really couldn’t decide between physics and astronomy on the one hand, and philosophy and history on the other. The Internet gave me the perfect opportunity to balance these things out; making a website is part database architecture, part coding, part design and part writing. And the site itself, of course, is balanced between literature and science, and between what dedicated scientists do in the present and what creative authors dreamed in the past.

    I’ve passed the challenge on to five other bloggers via email or notes on their sites.

    It’s been an interesting exercise; it was a good time for me to think a bit about what I’m doing. Thanks, Paul.

  5. Erm..
    Looks like I missed this one completely.

    Perhaps slightly ironically this posted came up very high when I googled my own name and I very happy to say that as of today Udy by itself now delivers the UYN page as a top hit. Wh00t!

    That’ll be getting my music posted by a few bloggers and ending up on the Hype Machine then, sweeeeeet!

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