Saturday, June 03, 2006

Unscientific Research

As I never tire of telling everyone, I'm writing my MA dissertation about blogging. In three years' time this will probably seem terribly quaint and mid-noughties, but for the moment it's still a newish and fascinating subject, which has opened up all kinds of ideas and avenues of enquiry that would never have suggested themselves to me otherwise.

I'm quite far forward on the theoretical side, and now I want to get a better understanding of why people like blogging so much, and also what kind of people like it. So, lovely readers, I want to get some insight from you.

This is highly unscientific and won't stand up to any kind of academic scrutiny, so I'm not going to be quoting anyone in my essay thing. However, if you feel so inclined, I'd be very grateful if you could answer all or any the following questions for me as background research:

Questions for people who have their own blog:

1. Why did you start writing a blog?

2. Has your blog changed your life in any way, and if so, in what way?

3. Has your blog ever caused you any kind of worry, and if so, what sort?

4. How do you decide what to write about?

5. What's the best thing about blogging, in your view?

Questions for people who read blogs but don't have their own:

1. Why do you like reading people's blogs?

2. What sort of thing do you like reading about the most?

3. Why don't you want to start one of your own?

4. If you used to have one but gave it up, why did you give up?

Feel free to put your answers in the comments or send me an email at quadrireme at googlemail dot com.

Much obliged to you all!

30 comments:

Billy said...

Questions for people who have their own blog:

That's me! Well here goes...

1. Why did you start writing a blog?
I've been long fascinated with the internet. I liked the idea of having my own website, but that requires a lot of work to keep it good and I'm lazy. Blogs all you need to do is write something, hit 'publish' and that's it. Far more my style.

2. Has your blog changed your life in any way, and if so, in what way?
Not really, only in the sense I have an outlet for the random thoughts that occur to me during the day.

3. Has your blog ever caused you any kind of worry, and if so, what sort?
No. I'd be worried if it did.

4. How do you decide what to write about?
I make little notes as and when I think of things. At the moment I have 7 possible topics. Which I not use all of, of course. Unless I'm desperate.

5. What's the best thing about blogging, in your view?
The community spirit and the commenting. A way of getting feedback on things you think and being able to do the same with other people. The partial anonymity is a bonus.

longcat said...

1. Why did you start writing a blog?

i can't really remember exactly but i guess it was to practise writing, (which is what it says on my blog) and to be able to express myself at my own pace, about whatever i pleased.

2. Has your blog changed your life in any way, and if so, in what way?

kind of, i can now look back at what i was doing at any point in the last 2 years, that's really nice, and fleeting thoughts/impressions i have don't always fade to nothing now...

3. Has your blog ever caused you any kind of worry, and if so, what sort?

when my mum found my blog i was concerned about what i'd revealed in the past. also once someone threatened to reveal in my regular blog something i wanted to keep secret and that made me worried and angry.

4. How do you decide what to write about?

whatever comes to mind when i sit down to write, although sometimes i'll store some story up earlier in the day for my blog.

5. What's the best thing about blogging, in your view?

being true to yourself in a safe place, shining your light.

(i hope this is helpful, i love being interviewed, it makes me feel important)

x

patroclus said...

Ohh, this is really brilliant, thank you both. Glad to hear you've never had any blog-related angst, Billy - you're obviously a natural!

GreatSheElephant said...

Questions for people who have their own blog:

1. Why did you start writing a blog?

I thought it might help me get some work.

2. Has your blog changed your life in any way, and if so, in what way?

The act of blogging makes me happy, I've made some new friends and it helped me get some work.

3. Has your blog ever caused you any kind of worry, and if so, what sort?

Only an extension of everyday angst i.e. I'm a big freak and everyone either hates me or ignores me. So nothing new.

4. How do you decide what to write about?

Whatever either seems funny or irritating at the time.

5. What's the best thing about blogging, in your view?

The other bloggers, by and large.

Aimee said...

I didnt know you were writing an MA dissertation about blogging. To put my question badly - how come? What precisely is it you're doing an MA in? Sounds intriguing.
I did the questionnaire thing, and I've emailed you my two cents worth. Its more of a £5.62 really, which is why I've emailed it.

herschelian said...

Why do you like reading people's blogs?

They provide fascinating glimpses into other people's lives and thoughts. I learn something new from them all the time.


What sort of thing do you like reading about the most?

I like reading about London, books, cooking, life in South Africa/Zimbabwe, the criminal justice system - basically I like everything except football (or any other sport).


Why don't you want to start one of your own?

I have thought about it, toyed with the idea - but I suspect that I would soon find it one more chore that I had to do when I already bemoan the fact I have too much on my plate. Also - all the good blog names have already been snapped up, and as you know, there is nothing like a name!


If you used to have one but gave it up, why did you give up?

Havn't had one, see above question for reasons why.

One thing I definately don't like in a blog is a cliquey style where the blog reader (bleader?) is made to feel an outsider. The blogger must want his/her blog read by people otherwise they would just be keeping a secret diary and hiding it in a biscuit-tin under the bed. So if they have already decided to exhibit themselves, so to speak, they should not write in an exclusive way.
BTW good luck with the dissertation, you seem to be breaking new ground with it.

Tim Footman said...

Have followed aimee's tack. Hope it helps.

The word verification is "noyqril" which is obviously meat extract that can be ingested nasally.

Dave again said...

1. Why did you start writing a blog?
- Having read a blog for a few days, I felt inspired to write about things that interested me, hoping that no-one would identify me, so that I could say what I really think (my current job makes that hard, at times, in real life).

2. Has your blog changed your life in any way, and if so, in what way?
- I feel a compulsion to write something new every day (partly because I know people come to read it daily) so it adds a pressure of deadlines; but it also makes me think about incidents in my life, and provokes me to articulate my feelings on a variety of issues.

3. Has your blog ever caused you any kind of worry, and if so, what sort?
- What can I write about today? Also a slight concern about being dooced - I could at times have written things which would be at odds with my employers' view on life.

4. How do you decide what to write about?
- The blog is such an eclectic mix of topics that really it's whatever happens to be interesting my tiny mind that day. Oh, and if there's been a cricket match.

5. What's the best thing about blogging, in your view?
- Can I have two things?
a. The re-invigoration of my creative writing (not that I've yet got around to writing another book, you understand, the blog taking all my spare time/energy).
b. The nice people one meets, with whom one normally would never have the chance of holding an intelligent conversation (or discussing cricket).

james henry said...

1. Why did you start writing a blog?

Because I got someone to put my cv up as a website, and got carried away.

2. Has your blog changed your life in any way, and if so, in what way?

Ended up meetings lots of interesting non-scary people, made me go outside more often to do things to have something to write about.

3. Has your blog ever caused you any kind of worry, and if so, what sort?

Not yet, but I'm sure it's just a matter of time.

4. How do you decide what to write about?

Anything that happened that seemed funny.

5. What's the best thing about blogging, in your view?

It annoys (some) journalists.

patroclus said...

This is all very interesting. If I had a comedy beard, I would no doubt be stroking it at this very moment.

Thank you all for your replies (and to everyone who's emailed, too) - it's much appreciated, and you can all bask in the knowledge that you have helped to advance our civilisation's knowledge (ooh aah) just a little bit.

Herschelian: rest assured that any friend of Slough's finest astronomatographer is a friend of this blog. Welcome!

patroclus said...

Used the word 'knowledge' twice in one sentence. Arse.

Kellycat said...

1. 'Cos my mate Surly was doing it. Actually, the signs were there that I might have been suffering from depression and I thought getting things off my chest would help me to sleep better at night.
2. In that getting some things off my chest helped a bit then I suppose it did change my life somewhat.
3. My only worry has been getting fired because of something I've written, but I don't think I've written anything too controversial to lose sleep over.
4. I wrote about things that either really irritated me, or really amused me. However, as my last post was now a month ago and was on the subject of me not having anything to post about, anyone who reads my blog regularly will see that it's winding down. It's not that I have nothing to write about, but more that I've been so busy that by the time I get the chance to post something, its no longer relevant, or I no longer feel as passionate about it.
5. I like the reassure I get that "I'm not the only one..."!

Kellycat said...

That would be "reassurance"

betty said...

Questions for people who have their own blog:

1. Why did you start writing a blog?

I'm married to someone who was already blogging, who insisted I start one of my own, for reasons unknown. It took quite a lot of nagging before I did start blogging, however.

2. Has your blog changed your life in any way, and if so, in what way?

I've probably got a bit more thick skinned, if anything, and don't take criticism/indifference quite as badly. You get quite a bit of negative feedback, after all.

3. Has your blog ever caused you any kind of worry, and if so, what sort?

I used to worry about not having many visitors or commenters in a way that was quite childish, but I've got used to the ups and downs of it all now.

4. How do you decide what to write about?

It's fairly random and frivolous. Sometimes I run out of ideas and other times they come thick and fast. I don't really write about anything of importance - in fact, sometimes I think I'm not really writing about anything.

5. What's the best thing about blogging, in your view?

I can communicate with people without revealing my real identity, which is great for someone who's an introvert and hates social interaction (a bit of an understatement, that).

Interpreter Pavlov said...

1. Why did you start writing a blog?

I think I needed the discipline of writing something at fairly frequent intervals. On reading others' blogs it struck me that there was a world of extraordinarily interesting people out there that I would enjoy getting to know better (in terms of blogging).

2. Has your blog changed your life in any way, and if so, in what way?

I feel I'm part of a circle of likeable people - possibly much wider than I know - to whom I have a sort of responsibility for keeping the relationship (which I can't really define yet, unlike more conventional relationships)green and flourishing.

3. Has your blog ever caused you any kind of worry, and if so, what sort?

At the start 3 months ago I was a bit concerned by the occasional lack of comments, but I've learned that this really oughtn't to matter very much. It took a little while to find a style or set of styles to settle down into. Possible compromise of identity worried me too, but more for other bloggers' sakes than mine.

4. How do you decide what to write about?

The first thing that comes into my head, usually. Not certain that this is the best way. Subject is sometimes dictated by outside factors, like availability of a photo or someone tagging.

5. What's the best thing about blogging, in your view?

'Meeting' new people, with the possibility that you might meet in the flesh one day. Exchanging ideas, however daft. Continually widening one's horizons.

Anonymous said...

I like the whole idea of blogging because it is actually quite an old fashioned concept. I have always loved the notion of correspondance. Most blogs that I have read [I do not have my own] are well written and extremely funny and are all quite distinct. I think they are a bit like electronic scrap books. The only reason I have not got one is because I tried to set one up and found it too complex for my analogue brain. Also sub conciously felt a bit daunted because there really are some excellent blogs and am sure mine would lower the high standard. But am going to try again [honest]. The best blogs are funny and philosophical and lets face it I just want to laugh all the time as do most people.

Geoff said...

1. Why did you start writing a blog?

So that me & Betty could entertain each other whilst we are apart. I didn't really bother about anybody else in the beginning.

2. Has your blog changed your life in any way, and if so, in what way?

Once I started reading other blogs and commenting on them and receiving comments on my own blog, I suppose I gained more self confidence in communicating with people I would never have come across in our virtually non-existant social life. I am now actually communicating with people with similar interests on a day to day basis and really enjoying the interaction. I am still an introvert in the real world, but who cares!

3. Has your blog ever caused you any kind of worry, and if so, what sort?

I tend to worry about my replies to comments. I don't want to upset anyone.

4. How do you decide what to write about?

If I see or hear something that I find funny or makes me angry.

5. What's the best thing about blogging, in your view?

The comments. It would be pretty lonely without them.

tom l said...

questions for writers

1. i realized that a weblog was another way of writing the same kind of thing i'd been writing for years on paper, and occasionally typing up and emailing to friends

2. it has brought me new readers all over the world, and i have discovered kindred writers whose blogs i greatly enjoy - in many cases, these are the same people.

3. no worries

4. i've been writing short pieces about 'whatever' for many years; my blog continues that practice.

5. the best things about blogging are the ease and speed of communicating.

Lorna said...

Hello! I've been lurking around, but wanted to do my bit to help out with the MA research.

1. Why do you like reading people's blogs?

I seem to get drawn in. I came upon my first blog while looking up recipes, and ended up following the links to other blogs out of curiosity. As one of the other comments noted, it's fascinating to have a little glimpse into someone's life. Maybe it's also the case that writing a PhD has honed my "research skills" (more accurately known as the nosey side of my personality)!

2. What sort of thing do you like reading about the most?

I always enjoy the funny stories people post from time to time. Otherwise, I like things like restaurant "reviews" (in the informal, chatty sense), discussions of films, that sort of thing.

3. Why don't you want to start one of your own?

I'm too lazy. I could never keep up with writing a diary, and there's a sort of responsibility entailed in keeping up a blog, as you're effectively part of a community.

I hope this helps a little bit! Good luck with the research.

Wyndham said...

1. Why did you start writing a blog?

I was lookng around for something to do in the evening that didn't entail watching the television or any kind of responsibility whatsover. The freeform nature of the beast also appealed, although that frustrates the hell out of me now. I looked around at one or two blogs - yours was probably the first, actually - and realised intelligent, interesting, quirky people did it. So I had a go.

2. Has your blog changed your life in any way, and if so, in what way.

It made me realise I can express myself pretty well if I so choose. But, as a neurotic, it's become a bit of a millstone round my neck. a nice millstone.

3. Has your blog ever caused you any kind of worry, and if so, what sort.

I'm ashamed to say, every single day.

4. How do you decide what to write about?

I try to think what I have to say about a subject and realise, not a lot. I'm afraid serious, weighty subjects are beyond me. I wallow in the trivial.

5. What's the best thing about blogging, in your view?

Meeting intelligent, interesting and quirky people. Realising that, occasionally, people think about the same things as you do. Not watching as much television.

patroclus said...

Gosh, this is really great, thanks everyone - and welcome to new commenters Lorna and Tom and Anonymous.

19 answers received now, upon receiving the 20th I shall commence the putting together of an Unscientific Analysis!

treespotter said...

am i 20?

1. Why? I started cause i was writing for someone, it began as a personal letter/diary. then it just stays as a diary. then it becomes a blog. i can't tell the distinction since i think i'm still writing more or less the same way, only now i put more jokes to impress people with my unhealthy sense of humour.

2. change my life? i think so. mostly in a way that i've made new friends and sometimes you need to 'look after' your friends kinda thing. Also when more people read it they give you a whole new insights into your insanities (mine is mostly a very private journal, or at least, was), so sometimes it's disturbing.
does that even make sense?

3. cause me any worries? yes. Some people take it faaar too seriously and seem to have developed some very bizzare quasi-relationship with you and they start becoming far too involved. I deal with it a lot better these days.
sometimes it's also worrying to have a permanent records out there of the past fuckups and screwups and other disturbing thoughts. i guess you can always delete them.

4. what do i write about: i don't. i barely think about it. it's my diary. it's whatever the hell i feel like. sometimes i do four posts a day, sometimes i do 4 a week. It just works like my diary and i just write what i feel like.

5. the best thing about it: not sure, may be it's like a confession room. i'm not a catholic, but i think it's similar.

patroclus said...

Thanks for that Treespotter - you're actually no. 23. A very mystical number, apparently.

entropy said...

1. Why do you like reading people's blogs?

It's like sitting at the next table to an interesting, slightly gossipy conversation. Except that in this case if you chime in people are less likely to think you a weirdo. I read to be entertained, and reassured (like kellycat said, that it's not just me)

2. What sort of thing do you like reading about the most?
I think it's less a case of topic than style and authorial voice. Some blogs can make fluff under the bed inherently funny, or tragic (well, maybe tragi-comic).

3. Why don't you want to start one of your own?
I do, but I fear I would never be off the computer. I just know it would be another procrastination tool. Also, very hard to decide who I would be writing for, and as a result what I could include. Can't see the point of keeping a diary no-one else will read, (would be very self-indulgent) but like the idea of semi-anonymity.

nibus said...

1. Why did you start writing a blog?

I think it was because everyone else had one.

2. Has your blog changed your life in any way, and if so, in what way?

Er, no.

3. Has your blog ever caused you any kind of worry, and if so, what sort?

Oh yes, it nearly got me the sack. Mind you, I wasn't worried about that.

4. How do you decide what to write about?

Tony Blair and Boomkat decide for me.

5. What's the best thing about blogging, in your view?

That's like asking "What's the best thing about cheese?"

Spinsterella said...

Oooh, homework!

Am I too late? I love answering questions.

patroclus said...

Not too late at all, Spin - answer away!

treespotter said...

indeed it is. MJ's.

mig bardsley said...

Irresistable. I hope you don't mind another very late offering.
1. Why did you start writing a blog?

I started a family website and found the only bit I really enjoyed was rabbiting on about my own thoughts and arranging pictures all over it. Then I got into a horrible muddle with the html and my son suggested I’d find it easier with a blog. And I liked the way blogging has a sense of community.

2. Has your blog changed your life in any way, and if so, in what way?

It takes up far too much time but also has given me a reason to take more photographs.

3. Has your blog ever caused you any kind of worry, and if so, what sort?

I got a bit upset when I realised one of my links was to a blogger whos political and religious views I didn’t want to endorse in any way. But I didn’t want to hurt the blogger’s feelings by cutting them off. And I hate feeling that my comments aren’t acceptable on other blogs. And I worry when people vanish.

4. How do you decide what to write about?

Whatever comes into my head. Sometimes triggered by pictures I’ve posted, sometimes by events in my life.

5. What's the best thing about blogging, in your view?

The marvellous variety of strange, funny, kind, clever, awful, you name it, people to talk to and read about. And having somewhere to show pictures

Stef the engineer said...

1. Being made redundant at work. Given free rein to use internet at work. Found likely new job very quickly, but had to "work" out notice.

2. Not really.

3. Wifey found it! It wasn't nasty about her, and she thought it was funny. Strange taste she has.

4. Used to be regular and involve thought & planning. Notes even. Now have no time, and random snippets.

5. It's not real!