Blogging crisis in Finland

Merten and Tommi (whose permalinks seem to have broken; links are also in Finnish - sorry) wonder about why people care about their ranks on the Pinseri top blogs list; and overall, why do people read blogs.

Two points: Yes, it does not matter really how much readership you have, except perhaps when you consider your responsibilities. And attempting to inflate your readership numbers will drive you down the tabloid path - anything for ratings. But what does matter, are links. People who link to you either think you're saying something worthwhile, or think you're weird, or evil, or just plain stupid. But regardless of the cause, they think your ideas are worth directing other people to - they have gone through the trouble of letting other people know about you, and have put their "seal of approval" (or "seal of disapproval" as the case may be) on you. And this is how networking works.

Second point is: There is a distinction between a blog (short for WebLog), and a personal web diary. Originally, a WebLog was just that: "a log of the web". The first one was a CERN web site, which catalogued all of the new WWW sites as they appeared in the infancy of the web. So, a WebLog links to all around the net.

The web diaries are then the transformation of paper diaries to the web. They take a very personal view point, and are mostly about what is happening in the author's life. Some of them can be very intimate, some of them just work as a place to vent out, and some of them are something else. But they are, regardless, personal, and talk about personal issues.

Of course, the distinction is not clear. Many (I would say most) mix these both kinds of content to the extent that everything between a "real" weblog and a personal diary is now known as a "blog", and all of the authors are "bloggers". OK, no big deal - people have different needs to publish, different itches to scratch, and we all still fit under the same umbrella. But this does bring me to the second point: Why to read blogs?

Reading a real weblog usually means that you are after information. Or at least I am. I subscribe to ~20 RSS feeds, all of them giving me a filtered view of the web. This allows me to choose the way I see the content by subscribing to people whom I know to be experts in their field, or well networked, or something else I appreciate. Weblogs are a way to distribute and filter information in a collaborative way; and also a way to create new things by allowing ideas to flow freely.

Personal diaries are a different thing. Reading them means that you are either interested in that person, his life, or you are trying to get a piece of his fame *evil grin*. And, while some of that activity falls under the generic, dubious category of social pr0n, I think it just shows a healthy interest in how your friends are doing. Up to a point, of course. Perhaps laziness plays a part in it, too: it's too easy to check how the others are doing, and you don't have to talk to them :-).

But as I said, most blogs are somewhere between the two ends. Most of the blogs I follow tend to hover nearer the "real" weblog end of the scale, with the exception of the blogs of a few friends or other interesting people. I guess that makes me an information junkie, then :-).

And to conclude this rantish thing, I would like to remind everyone that content is crap.

(Update: Merten, perhaps I was a bit unclear: Orava linking to you does not validate his points; it validates your points. That, or my sarcasm detector is broken again :-)




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