Mike Sanders, blogging’s philosopher in residence, has been having cross-blog conversations about “community”. Being in that same thoughtful mode I was yesterday, (What can I say, my work is lacking in the intellectual challenge department right now!) I would like to add my thoughts on community:
When I first discovered the idea of “blogging”, it seemed like something I wanted to do for two basic reasons. Like most humans, my reasons were split equally among selfish reasons and altruistic reasons. On the selfish front, I wanted to be able to keep a log, or record of things I read, sites I came across, etc. Sometimes, in my job, I find myself needing information that I know I saw somewhere last week. Well keeping a blog where I could note those things seemed like a great way to do that. Also, it seemed that, rather than keeping those notes in a Word document or something like that, it would be infinitely more useful to throw it online and share it with other people who probably have the same problems! OK, cool, off I go! (By the way my first encounter with blogging came via Robert Scoble’s presentation at Gnomedex last year!)
So, you see, at first, I really wasn’t conscious of the “community” aspect of blogging. I noted things that I had learned, or resources that I thought were useful, and those were my first blog entries on this site.(since gone) I began to read other blogs, and note things I read there that were interesting, etc. I started getting traffic, just a handful of people per day, and that was fine. I hoped that they were getting something out of these notes. Eventually I put up a comments system so they could let me know if they did find something useful, or even suggest something I had missed. I was acutely aware that I could not cover all of the internet by myself. And trying was just going to lead to making my new bride angry and miserable, not really something I wanted to do!
It seemed like just a little thing, but I enjoyed it, and was learning all the time from it, so that was all good. Then came Dec 4, 2001. That was the day Chris made mention of the blog in Lockergnome. (for the first time, as it turns out I’ve been mentioned again, as you know if you were here earlier this week!) That brought instant traffic and some level of notoriety, which I was woefully unprepared for, but which, IMHO, I dealt with fairly well. I vowed to work hard on this blog and keep it informative for the new folks who came and liked what they saw, especially the one’s who took the time to leave me comments or email me to that effect. Obviously the traffic levels didn’t stay that high all the time, but a decent number of folks (25-30 maybe?) started to become regular, if not in leaving comments, at least in reading. (I’ve seen your IP addresses, I know who you are, sort of *L*) That number started going up, other bloggers started to stop by, and link to me, even engaging me in cross-posting conversations. (Blogversations?) Before you know it, I was part of a blogging community.
What does it mean of be part of a blogging community? Well it’s just like other communities, it has it’s good points and it’s bad points. There’s an inate pressure to keep going, getting better, becoming more relevant, because now people are reading, people want to know what I think, what I’ve seen, what I’ve learned today. I’ve not always dealt with that sort of pressure well, (I’m not exactly the picture of confidence and self-esteem!) but I am trying! But overall, it’s a plus! I love sharing ideas and getting feedback from people, agreeable or not. Let’s face it, hearing just your own commentary, day after day, gets a little old. We all need to be challenged to hear different voices, mull over different ideas. I love that about the people who have become part of this community. No, I’m not an A-list blogger, and I probably never will be, but that’s hardly what I set out to do, so I can’t be overly disappointed by that. But I have found a niche, a growing niche even, of folks who are excited by learning about technology, share my frustrations and joys of working in IT, folks who I can share my knowledge with, and who freely share their own with me. It fills a void in my life, because, as the title suggests, I don’t have a network of peers at work. I miss that, badly! It also gives me the opportunity to make friends with some folks. That’s never a bad thing. Especially to someone who is, well “socially awkward” might be a good way of putting it. It’s a level of shyness beyond just “shy”, ok? 😉
And even though I may never meet any of you in real life, (although if I do get to make my Des Moines/Fargo/Denver drive this summer, and someone wants to put me up for a night or offer a place to grab a shower and a hot meal during the trip, I’m listening…*L*) I do consider the input you have here, and the stories we all share on our own little corners of the web, to be just as interesting, and fun, as sitting in a pub drinking a pint of Guinness and sharing stories in real life. (Yeah I’m Irish, I like Guinness, so what?!? *L*)
Thank you all for making this so much fun! Here’s to years and years together, and more and more additions to our “community”! *lifting my pint*
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