When you think of blogging, you may picture a voracious writer with a particular passion who casually sits behind their computer screen and writes solely for leisure. Though blogging can be a leisurely activity, it is also how many people make a living. These people work hard on their blogs and its content for the sake of spreading ideas and having readers.
The blogging platform provides “a dense network of small audiences and many producers” and it is one type of social software, or networks of social interactions. In Chapter 3 of Jill Walker Rettburg’s book, Blogging, on Blogs, Communities and Networks, she discusses and analyzes the sociability behind the blogosphere. Though blogs can be very personal, decentralized, and a free-form type of social software, there is a interconnectedness between the plethora of blogs on the Internet. There are food lover blogs, fashion and style blogs, interior design blogs, tech blogs, health & wellness blogs, and the list goes on. You name it and there is definitely a blog about it. And the great part is that a quick Google search can directly lead you to blogs that would suit your fancy. Blogs are essentially an interconnected web of other blogs. If you visit a blog, you will often see a ‘blog roll’ somewhere on the site. This blog roll will be comprised of all the blogs that this particular blogger enjoys reading. The point of blog rolls are that if you enjoy reading one particular blog, you will likely find pleasure in exploring those other blogs on the roll; they typically have similar content and their writers have overlapping interests. For example, a boho, street style fashion blogger will likely have a blog roll that contains bloggers very similar to her taste in style. Those bloggers on her blog roll will likely follow her as well. Together, they have formed a sort-of online “partnership” and feed off of each other. They hope to spread their love for fashion and particularly, promote the best trends in bohemian style clothing. The takeaway is that while blogs can be very individualized, they are also platforms for social networks. Click here to check out Sometimes Sweet’s blog roll! She’s a mother that loves life and the little things in it; therefore, she created her blog for the purpose of sharing her greatest pleasures in life.
Mark Granovetter, an American sociologist and professor at Stanford University, developed a theory about how social networks benefit more from their weak ties compared to their strong ties. He argued that weak ties within one’s social network allow for better broad dissemination of information. While strong ties (bloggers placed on each other’s blog rolls) allow cooperation and the spreading of similar ideas, associations with weak ties (bloggers that are not directly associated or very alike) allow exposure to fresh, creative ideas and information. This kind of new information can give a blog the “leg up” it needs.
So how is blogging unique? How does it differentiate itself from other forms of socializing and communication? Blogging is unique in that it allows thoughts and ideas to be placed in one organized platform. Though it does not have the same effect as a face-to-face conversation or messaging via an online chat room, blogging has persistence in the archives it creates. Older blog posts may be stored in separate archives to be accessed by readers years after they are posted; while you can remember certain details of a face-to-face conversation, you will not likely remember all the details. Our minds can’t archive those conversations as the computer can archive blog posts. Unfortunately, the computer has outsmarted us in certain areas and that is one of them. Also, blogs are categorized as asynchronous media because readers can communicate with each other without being present at the same time. One person can read a comment one week and it will still be able for viewing for another person to engage in the conversation a week later. With blogging, the conversation never has to end. It is a platform for people of all walks of life to participate in, share ideas, and gain new perspectives on different topics. The question we are left with is how will this sense of connectedness with others that blogging affords us change the way view privacy in an increasingly exposed world?