Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Dead Blogs

A friend, after visiting here, comments to me: "Could you explain to me just what a blog is, and why you have one/what one does with it? Is it to meet women, or like-minded people, or express your ideas for some audience? How would I find your blog if I didn't know you? Do you visit (if that is the correct verb) other blogs? How do you find them?

Good questions. One answer that occurs to me is the same given to the question of why people climb mountains -- because they're there. In the early days of the web a friend enthusiastically told me that having a web page was like having your own radio station. Now, of course, it would be a TV station. (Reminds me of Phil Ochs' comment that not having a color TV today was like not visiting the theater during Shakespeare's day.)

But a blog is more. It's having your own magazine, your own book. It will replace the vanity presses people used to publish their work when rejection notices outnumbered offers. And it's also an online diary that everyone in the world (with a computer and an internet connection) can read. When I was in junior high school, a friend and I broke into a girl's house and stole her diary; it was a major scandal and I was grounded for weeks. Today she would have a page on MySpace for all to see.

After setting up this page, I surfed the Blogspot universe to see what others are doing. It's easy...just click on the "Next Blog" at the upper right. I was quickly struck by the fact that many of the existant blogs are dead. The owners seem to have abandoned their creations, with the last postings two or three years back. I was reminded of the phenomenon at gyms where membership spikes dramatically in January followed by New Year's resolutions to "get in shape." Of course participation drops off gradually as the workouts get more tedious. It's easy to set up a blog, but it can often be tedious to keep it going. Will I keep up?

The other impression I got from surfing blogs was of the incredible variety. There are Blogspot offerings in every language, with every imaginable theme. There also appear to be spam blogs, set up by bots with text that makes no sense. There are commercial blogs and confessional blogs, blogs with photographs and blogs with movie reviews. When the election season gets into high gear, I imagine there will be blogs for every candidate. Maybe even the write-ins now will stand a chance.

Am I doing this to meet girls? Not with the picture I posted, taken in Thailand after I shaved my head. A friend told me that I looked menacing. And I doubt that a 66-year-old with two failed marriages is much of a catch. Many bloggers apparently want to disguise who they are. I went incognito at various times in the past, but now it seems apparently to be real in this place, despite the virtual fog.

This blog, then, is a work in progress. I'm not sure if it will ever be read by anybody I do not know. And that doesn't seem to make any difference.

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