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Monday, December 12, 2005

Identity Formation in Blogging

Blogging about Blogging

7% of the 120 million (8 million) U.S. adults who use the internet say they have created a blog or web-based diary….27% (32 million) of internet users say they read blogs. (cite: http://www.pewinternet.org/pdfs/PIP_blogging_data.pdf).

Out of those 32,000,000 people, roughly 4,000 have visited RightFaith since August 16, 2005. I don’t consider averaging over 1,000 unique hits per month discouraging for a new blog; yet, capturing roughly .0125% of blog readers certainly places things in perspective. Understanding RightFaith’s significance is humbling and it births at least one question that I’m not prepared to answer: What is success?

I presume that if each blog’s author(s) considered the question of purpose, he or she would arrive at different reasons to exist: influence the world, money, self expression, sense of community, or enjoyment. Given the various purposes, how is success measured? Unique visitors, return traffic, Techorati statistics, blog awards, links to your site, TTLB ecosystem ranking, income from advertising are legitimate measurements of success but fleeting. These measures of popularity, even if sustained, are not a measure of success unless your purpose is self-aggrandizement or the simplistic challenge of creating popularity.

To my dismay, I’ve become focused on these numerical measures at times. Matt Drudge, Lori Byrd, Life News or some commentator runs a headline about which I quickly synthesize my thoughts into a formal argument and, after wiping the sweat on my brow, click “publish”. Generally, it creates some traffic, slowly creeps down the page, and then rests forever in the archives. How stressful; how fleeting. While this pattern is acceptable for many bloggers, it leaves me wanting.

There is a much deeper conversation that flows just below the current of human dialogue of which I long to take part, to contribute. So few contribute to this much grander interaction for the pouring out of one’s self into a single post within this category is so complete that it only the with the last ounce of strength that the author can click the publish button. But, once it appears, the black letters blur into paragraphs and nowhere is your supreme effort given account; while many may view the page, few read it. “A piece of writing is an offering,” says Allan Bloom. “You bring it the altar and hope it will be accepted. You pray at least that rejection will not throw you into a rage and turn you into Cain. Perhaps naively, you produce your favorite treats and pile them in an indiscriminate heap. And you do not always feel that you are writing for any contemporaries. It may well be that your true readers are not here as yet and that your [blog] will cause them to materialize.”

The conversation is not for those easily enticed by the lures of hits, links, or update-to-minute news. Those who partake in the conversation of the ages contribute to humanity’s body of knowledge and thirst for the exposition of truth. “The real community of man, in the midst of all the self-contradictory simulacra of community, is the community of those who seek the truth, of potential knowers…of all men to the extent they desire to know (Bloom).

Most bloggers read blogs that reinforce what they believe. The last thing needed after a hard day at work (or during work—shame on you), is adversarial dialogue with strangers. While the anonymity of blogging promotes free expression, it lacks the shame associated with irresponsible words thrown freely. The quest for the common good is neglected by ruthless individuals who are isolated from the consequences of their speech. Civil discourse within a responsible community can not be found in such an environment.

“…Plato was to Aristotle at the very moment they were disagreeing about the nature of the good….They were absolutely one soul as they looked at the problem. This, according to Plato, is the only real friendship, the only real common good. It is here that the contact people so desperately seek is to be found….They have a true community that is exemplary for all the other communities” (Bloom). People, “desperately seek…to be found,” to have community, and to be significant. Is this the appeal of blogging?

Blogging must always be a work in progress; at the moment a blog is defined, it changes or dies. This is the nature of life in the rapidly changing information age. Changes must occur at RightFaith; what they are I do not know. I’ve considered adding a similarly-minded blogger or two, or posting less news and more commentary. My true desire is to enter into the conversation of the ages, though to do this I know I must sacrifice the addiction of numbers but then for whom am I posting? If only blogging were the devotion of my life. As it stands now, its just a hobby that has captured my affection.

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RIGHTFAITH: Where everything favors the stewardship of patrimony. All content is believed to be correct but may be amended based upon new information. The content of this page may be republished with proper citation without the expressed consent of the author. This site is not, in any manner whatsoever, associated with the religious philosophism from the Indian penninsula. All comments or emails to the author become the property of the author and may be published or deleted without notice or reason provided. Copyrighted 2005.

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