Monday, May 7, 2007

My many thoughts

Blood’s article talked about how the first blogs could only be made by people who knew how to make a website. However, now posting a blog is a lot easier, and essentially anyone can do it. This is important because it gives people a venue other than the personal diary to explore and be presented with their own thoughts. Although only a handful of people may read the blog, the fact that many bloggers address cyberspace, or even the world at large, instills in the writer the sense that their writing is a larger action in the grand scheme of things- a greater social comment on the world around them. In this way blogs create a way for people to become increasingly self-expressive and observant of the world around them.

Garfield’s article really got me thinking about the reasons why people blog, especially the line, “they are people who write some of the most engaging, trivial, thoughtful, rambling, reactionary, self-obsessed and shamelessly disturbing material of the present day.” It made me think about the pros and cons of blogging. On the one hand, blogging gives people an opportunity to explore their thoughts as they appear typed out before their eyes. Blogging also causes people to become more aware of the world around them. However, if blogging is the only way that people can express their feelings, then I think there is a true problem. This problem goes hand in hand with my issues with Second Life. If the only way that people can express themselves is in front of a computer screen, then they are distancing themselves from an essential part of the human experience- true interpersonal communication and interaction.

Something that I was thinking about with regard to Trott’s article is the notion of people using a blog to update family and friends about their lives instead of e-mail. However, I believe there is an inherent difference between these two mediums. With e-mail, there is absolute intent: one chooses exactly who they want to send an e-mail to, and directs it toward this person. The person may also craft the message toward their specific and individual reader. However, with a blog, one is very much posting for the world at large- a seemingly anonymous audience. It is up to the reader to go out and find this blog and read it. On the other hand, when one sends an e-mail, they are making a point to their reader that they want this individual, specifically, to read what they have to say. Though some would say that e-mail is much less personal than a phone call or an actual conversation, it is far more personal than a blog that is meant for anyone to read (or not read).

Although I’m not a huge fan of technology that tends to distance people from true interaction with one another, I believe that Blanchard makes a good point with regard to why virtual communities are important. The author establishes that through the internet, one is able to connect with people outside of the area in which they live, people from around the globe. These are people that one would most likely never have the opportunity to interact and connect with except for with the aid of the internet. Additionally, I believe that virtual communities are an asset to interpersonal communication if and only when it is not the sole means of interaction that a person utilizes. That is to say that participation in a virtual community is not a crutch or a substitute for interaction that occurs in the real world.

I wasn’t really sure why we were supposed to read Wei’s article; I didn’t find much in the article to be very surprising. That is to say that with regard to there being various procedures and expectations that go along with participating in a webring, I wasn’t surprised. Just as participating in a club or a group also means adhering to specific codes of conduct, I feel that webring procedures are merely and extension of these codes, but in a digital form.

The blog I just couldn’t stop reading was, because so many of the things on that blog ring true for me. Having waitressed for almost 3 years, so many of the things on this blog resonated greatly with my daily experiences. I’m pretty much obsessed with this blog- it reminds me of the server blog that I put on my personal hypertext about being a waitress at California Pizza Kitchen Valley Fair. Though non-servers would find blogs like this amusing, I think that they are more enjoyable for those who actually live the same kind of life as the blogger. I loved what the blogger said about what happens when a restaurant starts of the day on the wrong foot:

"Nothing’s worse than starting a restaurant day behind schedule. You never get caught up with your work and everyone runs around in a panicked shitty mood that exacerbates the problem. It’s a vicious cycle that only ends when your first post shift drink crosses your lips. Since I’m working a double I’ve got twelve fun filled hours to go.”

Also, the discussion of why waiters tend to be smokers was also amusing- because it is SO true! Similarly, the parts about waiters and partying is also very true. It’s how waiters are able to deal with the public for so long- self-medication! Haha. The owner’s attitude reminded me a lot of an experience that I had with one of my own managers on shift last night.

The blog I really think other people should read is postsecret. I’ve seen this site before, and it is really fascinating. The combination of text and images on this site convey people’s deepest, darkest secrets, as well as secrets which are simply humorous. This is a fun site to check out if you are bored and aren’t really doing anything. I feel like there are a lot of things on that site that people can identify with.

If I were to maintain a weblog, I’d like to make it like chronicles of a paramedic/probie firefighter. The writer is really personable and straightforward. The layout is well done, and the color scheme makes the text easy to read. The writer has a good balance of both personal insights and insights into the job they have. However, it is not so laden with occupational lingo that it is impossible for an outsider to read. It reminded me that people with really important jobs are still just people in the end.

As I searched for blogs, I stumbled across a few that I really liked.

Here are some of my thoughts on the posts of my classmates:

I really liked what Josh was talking about with regard to blogging being therapeutic. Psychologists have been saying for years that journaling is extremely helpful to people when they are trying to figure out a solution to a problem or they are going through a hard time. I think that blogging is the 21st century’s answer…a way that people can work the issues in their life out, vent their frustrations, and come to grips with their emotions…but it fits into the pace of life of people in our day and age. It’s as simple as typing out your thoughts from the confines of your cubicle, or blogging in the library while you simultaneously do research for a paper. Due to the fact that people spend so much of their time behind a computer, it seems appropriate that people have found a means of making this fact work to their advantage with regard to their own mental health.

Stuart’s response to the postsecret website got me thinking about the notion of anonymity. I think that the issues I have with newer technology have to do with this very issue. I feel that in the case of postsecret, anonymity provides a means for people who are battling their own demons to speak out about what they are feeling. Anonymity provides a means of coping, to confront the things in their life which are troubling them. However, the problem with anonymity and things such as Second Life are that people use it to hide; they use it as a shield to ward off criticism of the people that they truly are. We live in a complex and multifaceted world, often beautiful, and I think that people sell themselves short when they live in this anonymous world; a world where no one really has to stand up for who they are or what they believe in. I think that is really weak.

I agreed with Andrea with regard to some blogs being posted more for the people that write them than for other people. I too had seen the title of a blog that caught my eye because it looked like it was going to be a woman ranting about her boyfriend. Much to my dismay, it was not. One issue that I have with misleading blogs is that if people are simply writing for themselves, then why not classify the blog as private and inaccessible to the public? I don’t understand why people would make their thoughts public if they are important to only themselves.

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