The Norfolk and Norwich Christian community website

Blogging is a global phenomenon

GlobeAustraliaIn the first of her regular column, Network Norwich blog-watcher Heather Cracknell takes a look at the world of blogging and why people write blogs in the first place...
Blogging is a global phenomenon, with people from all over the world recording their thoughts, experiences, ideas and opinions to be read by anyone and everyone who might be interested.
Studies show that people increasingly often turn to blogs rather than news channels if they want to understand the situation on the ground in crisis situations, for example during Hurricane Katrina and the tragic situation in New Orleans. There are some fascinating accounts coming out of Baghdad, Afganistan, China – in fact if you're interested in a place you'll find someone there blogging about it!
Why read blogs?
Reading blogs is a way of engaging with ideas and opinions that have emerged from the passions and interests of real people. Bloggers do not usually have an agenda other than to explore the world around them – a very few have businesses to plug or products to endorse but its apparent straightaway if that’s the case – and most are just using this medium to contribute to the discussion of things happening in the world and draw attention to issues they think are important.
Why do people write blogs?
There has been a lot written about the passive nature of our lives in this media rich age: bombarded with television, adverts, news reports and opinions with little incentive to engage our brains at all! Yet the phenomenal growth of blogging – there are an estimated 4.8 million blogs in cyberspace, up from just 100,000 two years ago, according to blog search engine Technorati – means that people are obviously not satisfied being the passive consumers of media, they want to contribute to it too. (Problogger has some good thoughts on why this is.)
As a blogger myself, the question I get asked most is why I do it – I'm a busy person with a full life, why do I give up my precious time to write stuff that might not be read by anyone?! Its a valid question in our cash-rich, time-poor contemporary society, so I asked the Norwich christian bloggers the same thing...
“Partly for our own benefit”
As with everything in life, there are many reasons why we do what we do. The bloggers who responded admitted that some of their motivation was their own improvement, in writing skills or thinking through difficult issues to put across a coherent point of view, said Carl. The convenience of keeping in touch with people was a real draw for Sparkles, and Helsalata reckons that “blogging is a fantastic platform. Stand up and speak to a room of people and you could get heckled, but not via a blog. What you say, goes. You get to vent your spleen, opine or wax lyrical; from start to finish, your piece is said. ... I think the megalomanic in us all craves a blog to announce to the world "Here I am! Start recognising me!".” There is a playfulness about blogging and satisfaction in carving out your own unique space in cyberspace.
Contributing and generosity
Yet the satisfaction of expressing yourself isn't enough to warrant the effort of maintaining your blog, there has to be other reasons too. “It's good for the world that an array of people can publish coherent thoughts on important issues. The media often dismisses the blogosphere as 'illiterate people writing about their pets', but it has the potential to be so much more than that.” (Carl again)
For example, many Christian bloggers share the research they have done for giving sermons, talks or workshops – in Norwich Paul, Mark and Mark are good for this kind of thing.
There is a generosity within this notion – writing considered, thoughful pieces that are shared free of charge for others to use, draw on and take forward in new directions. In our culture of copyright nothing is free, and so the idea of blogging goes against this grain. (interestingly there is a form of license that some bloggers use to be clear about their work called the Creative Commons Licence)
Organic Community
Helsalata says “I love the response aspect of blogs. You say your piece and then others come along and add their opinion: sometimes they agree and sometimes draw attention to additional information you hadn't considered. It has an organic feel in that respect. Not only can people comment on your blog but also your post could inspire someone else to write up their thoughts on their blog. This builds up quite a community. Community life in blogs works as you link to others and others link to you. I hadn't ever realised that when I started blogging that I would develop an in-depth relationship with other people; some of them previously known to me but others not.”
It seems that blogs allow a level of interaction, accountability and challenge that we're unlikely to get on a Sunday morning over coffee and biscuits, or over the phone. In fact we're more likely to bump into people who think differently to ourselves in the blogosphere than in normal life, so being part of that interaction can smooth off some of our rough edges!
Joining in
If you've been inspired to join this dynamic community, a good place to start is the link page on this site to the Norwich bloggers. After that, follow the links on a blog that you like and enjoy the adventure that reading and commenting on blogs can bring!
Don't forget, if you'd like to link your blog to this site, or if you have any comments or pointers, please email me here.
HeatherCracknellWebIf you have a blog which you would like Heather to cover for the Network Norwich website or you see something which you think deserves wider attention, please e-mail details to Heather
You can visit Heather’s own blog, Driftwood

Next time: how to get started as a blogger yourself.


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