Monday, March 30, 2009

The Evolution of a Blogger

Just a heads up, this is an extremely long post.

The Beginning
I've been on the blogging scene for a while, since about 2005 with LiveJournal. It started with a few silly late night poems, and then progressed to a "daily/weekly/quarterly update" type of thing. There were many hiatuses. I faux-liveblogged the cruise we went on in the summer of 2006 and that was my last post on LiveJournal. There was a social networking site that was semi-popular before Facebook became popular called Classface, renamed StudyBreakers, that I used to blog a bit on, but after several failed redesigns, the site disappeared completely, and so did my blog (I have personal archives). I went about a year without blogging, but suddenly I had the urge to blog again. I checked out my old LiveJournal to see if I could pick up on there again, but realized that I didn't want to post there because everything I had previously written was incredibly lame (no, you don't need to go find it) and I didn't want to be associated with that middle schooler's/freshman mindset. That's when I created this blog in June 2007.

The Angsty Stage
I blogged a bit before going to SAMS and then about 2-3 times a week while at CMU. I used it as an outlet of expression at the time, but I didn't realize how great of a chronicler of memories and adventures it was. Upon returning home from Pittsburgh, I kept up the blogging habit since I was used to it, and mainly talked about school. Most of my posts between July 2007 and January 2008 were mostly angsty rants about why I didn't like school, people, or whatever was happening in my life at the moment. It was depressing and pointless. These are the posts that make me cringe when I go back to read them because they were just so horrible. I am disappointed with how I thought and handled certain situations, and then had the nerve to complain to my blog about it! I suppose one can call this maturity.

The second semester of my junior year was pretty stressful due to AP Lang, AP US History, and robotics all occuring at the same time. Because of this I didn't blog much and when I did my posts were simply composed of brief updates on how overloaded I was. I didn't blog much over the summer either because it was incredibly boring. I almost abandoned the thought of blogging all together at one point because I felt like I couldn't come up with any interesting content to supply this blog with life. Eventually I stopped worrying about posting with any consitency and just decided to write when it came naturally. Over the summer I started reviewing some of my older entries and just realized how much I disliked how I wrote in the past. I made a promise to myself to not rant or complain so much and put more thought into determining blogworthy content. Though working August-February and senior year decreased the frequency of posts, I felt those posts accurately expressed how I felt at the time or the events that occured.

Today I went through and tagged all of my entries for organizational purposes. In doing so, I managed to briefly read all 153 published posts and evaluate my blogging habits. I primarily talked about school, robotics, and preparing for college. I realize that I ran into so many dry spells while blogging because I had fallen into a habit of making specific types of entries: school happenings (grades, classes, events), robotics (events, build season, competitions), and college prep (standardized tests, summer programs, applications, admissions updates). Other types of entries were rare and came sandwiched between 3 or 4 of the other types of entries. Most of the things that I blogged about in the past are going to soon disappear and I'd like to switch up my style a bit. Many have complimented my style of writing, so I don't plan to change that, but what will change is the type of content and the frequency of posts.

I have been following a few photoblogs for a while and noticed a lot of people are picking up on Project 365. It's pretty cool. I've had some conversations with some other friends/bloggers about how hard it is to come up with content on a regular basis if your blog has no particular theme, and we've all agreed that no one blogs as much as they'd like to. Project 365 is a neat way to preserve a snapshot of your life, as well as breathe life and interesting content into your blog. I encouraged Dom to do it and hers is coming out great so far. I've been carrying my camera around with me almost all the time, but I haven't taken many photos. I'd like to start a photo-a-day journey of my own, but I'm not sure when...keep an eye open.

I aim for my entries to capture a snapshot of my life. Posts are the result of me either pouring my heart out, making quick bullet updates, or carefully crafting an entry.  My style has been influenced in many ways, from the classes I take (this was the only place I could write informally when taking AP Lang/Lit), the news feeds I read, other bloggers, and comments.  

I'll come out and admit it now, I'm a backwards stalker. I know almost every one of you out there reading my blog, your IP, browser, operating system, Internet provider, city, state, and frequency and length of visits. Statcounter is a wonderful tool, almost better than Google Analytics in many ways. I use both, but that's not what this is about. In many ways, my audience has greatly influenced the type of posts that I make.

When I first started, there was no audience, it was just me and the Google spiders.  My family was the main audience in Summer 2007 so that they could keep up with me while I was at SAMS. Eventually I asked some friends to read my blog and we'd exchange comments every so often. I grew out of being so blog shy and started linking my comments/user accounts elsewhere to my blog as well. This generated a lot of traffic. Perhaps the greatest influx of readers came when I started linking my blog to my comments on the MIT Admissions Blogs.  I found other interesting people through their blog-linked comments, other interesting people discovered me -- it was great.  A ring of bloggers, of all different ages, interests, and nationalities, was created as a result of this common interest. Even though my journey with MIT has come to an end, I will probably still keep up with a few of the blogs that I've come to love over the two years.

As more people started reading and commenting on my blog, the more encouraged I was to write. Occasionally I'll rethink entries since I know which eyes are watching, but I usually don't let that stop me from expressing myself freely. I've had the "oh yeah, this is MY blog" aha moment quite a few times.

Noelle, The Blogger Evangelist
Ever since I started blogging, I've encouraged others to do the same. I can testify to the stress relief, reflective, and network effects blogging has, but many others don't see the benefit. I definitely understand that it's not for everyone, whether the issue is time, writing skill, lack of interest or whatever. I've gotten a few of my friends to start blogs or resucitate their old ones, and they've appreciated the annoying push later on down the line. Many others have found theirselves eager to blog after being inspired by other popular blogs or seeing the many networks and webrings formed that they're being left out of. A mild case of nosiness may have something to do with this, as many will share feelings on their blog that would never be expressed in normal conversation. It seems like there was a sudden spike in blogging activity recently, even before everyone started their cinematography blogs for school. At one point, it seemed like EVERYONE had a blog (heck, even my grandmother does). Sure I felt a little less special for a moment, but then I realized how cool it was knowing so many people that blogged about so many different things; Dom with photography and personal updates, Joseph with his shoe/music/tech news and criticism, Kyle and his opinions, Shawn and his photography, Josue and his reflections. Everyone's different and has a blog for a different purpose, which is how it's supposed to be.

1 comment:

domi.blurbs said...

I am happy for this "maturity" you have found!
I can't wait till you start your 365! And as difficult as it is, it is good for creativity! Your brain needs it! :) Everyone does! I can't wait to see what you come up with! :)