I’ve been reflecting on the process of Blogging as part of the doctoral programme work. The Blog is really a monologue more so than a conversation. Considered as my external brain, it’s a series of 2,193 separate statements so far, each of which reflects what was passing through my head on the day it was written. The shortest posts will be a simple paragraph. The longest are full length essays of several thousand words.
I spend anywhere between 15 minutes, and four hours a day writing and illustrating this work. And then i let it loose to a subscribed global audience, from where it is typically shared onwards to an open global audience.
Over time, the Blog has evolved, in my understanding, from primarily a content sharing channel, to a way of being. Being a thinker, and a writer.
It may sound odd to hold an identity as ‘thinker’, but in this i am referencing a more deliberate act of consideration. Almost a meditative act: of connection, sense making and storytelling, through mixed media.
The books (17 so far) all originate from thinking in the Blog. The notion of ‘The Social Age’ was born there. My consulting work, and my Programmes, my teaching and my thinking, all are grounded here.
I say ‘here’ but latterly The Blog has taken flight from it’s ‘home’ on WordPress to now being cross published on LinkedIn, where engagement and growth has accelerated. So The Blog has transitioned from being a space, to being a conversation, or possibly a community.
I came to blogging in 2010, although the generally credited first blog was published in 1994. This digital writing space follows in a longer tradition of writing and, sits somewhere between individual journaling and diary writing, and the publication of diaries, pamphlets and letters, in that it is a personal space (although not private), and it is published (although not perfect).
There is nothing specifically unique about blogging in terms of creative expression, but rather it changes the context of that expression, and the moderation and validation of that expression, and by doing so it changes what that expression can do.
The advent of blogs was a personal affair, but the field has not been static: Organisations and brands have sought to appropriate the format in service of fostering culture and knowledge, or brand perception, and dedicated technologies have emerged and evolved which have, in turn, shaped the practice.
The rise of the Corporate Blog has been both as prolific as it is uninspiring, probably because the change in context, from authentic personal, to broadcast formal, erodes the validity of the mode itself.
I would argue that the blog, with it’s internal validation, external visibility, social accountability, and almost stream of consciousness flow, is a very different thing than a proofed, edited, controlled, and formally mandated publication, and to move away from these principles and features invalidates the format.
For me, the essence of a blog, and hence the key mechanism of engagement, is the authentic self. In this, it is like a diary: the ‘self’ is what gives validity, even though that validity is held as imperfection.
Where historically i would have used a notebook to keep notes, latterly i use the blog.
Central to this are certain key ideas:
- That writing can be incomplete or fragmentary
- That writing can be imperfect or wrong
- That writing can be selfish, vulnerable or confrontational
- That writing here exists in fluid context
- That writing does not have to make sense, and in some contexts should stretch the boundaries of comprehension
- That rules are not universal
That latter is important: here i do not describe the rules of blogging, or the formal definition, for neither can exist, any more than there can be ‘rules for writing’ or ‘rules for art’ that hold any validity beyond familiarity.
It is not hyperbole for me to say that blogging has transcended writing into part of my way of being: somewhere akin to worldview or belief, most certainly creative process, and in part an obligation and burden.