11 October 2005

Blogs - A Medium in Search of a Role

Mr Wang has just read an article by Koh Buck Song in the Straits Times about blogging - it's entitled "Blogs - A Medium in Search of a Role". And he can't help feeling that this is another one of those rather misconceived MSM articles that try but fail to understand blogging.

Koh keeps talking about "durability" and "value" and how blogs struggle to build and maintain a readership. He thinks that blogging is a fad that cannot last unless the author can "keep churning fresh, engaging material, re-inventing content while retaining some consistency of approach to foster the blog's character. It is a long-haul game of branding, just like in the real world, and demands plenty of time".

Koh doesn't seem to understand a few key points. The first is that blogs, unlike newspapers, are not profit-driven; bloggers blog out of personal interest. The second is that anyone can set up a new blog in three minutes flat, or delete an existing one in five seconds.

Put these two points together, and what do you see? If a blogger loses interest, if he feels that he has nothing to say, well, he simply drops out. No loss to the world. Not such a huge loss to him either. Journalists depend on the press for their livelihood; bloggers don't depend on their blogs for a living.

Meanwhile hundreds or thousands of new blogs spring up each day. Millions of existing blogs go on. These are powered by people who ARE interested, and who feel that they still DO have something to say. Individual blogs may die, but blogs collectively march on.

What about the value of blogs, another point which Koh harps on? He suggests that bloggers can't offer much value to readers. Well, think about it this way. Ask yourself - which ten living people in the world do you think could possibly have thoughts, knowledge and ideas that are of great value to you? Next, ask yourself - do these ten people have Internet access? Probably yes. That means that all these ten people are potential bloggers.

That's the real power of blogging. It's instantly accessible to so many people in the world. And I believe that there are many, many people in the world who are able to write something of value to other people. Among bloggers, there are teachers, lawyers, parents, doctors, insurance agents, journalists, pastors, physiotherapists, poets, bankers, human resource officers, academics, business managers, chefs, scientists, accountants, CEOs, old people, young people, people of different races, religions and nationalities - each with unique backgrounds, insights and experiences to share.

Blogging makes their thoughts available to the world. Oh, and devices such as Technorati, Blogsearch and hyperlinking help, of course.

Koh makes a big deal out of the effort it takes to keep a blog going. Well, I think he exaggerates. People blog about what they are interested in, and naturally they would do what they're interested in, whether blogs exist or not. Take for example Reader's Eye, the blog of award-winning poet Gilbert Koh. Because Gilbert is interested in poetry, he'd be writing it and putting effort into it, regardless of whether blogs exist or not. However, it's thanks to the existence of blogs that he can cut and paste and share his works with the whole world (or whoever in the world is interested in his poetry).

And if one day, Gilbert loses interest in poetry, well, he'll end Reader's Eye. And if it ends, it ends. It was good while it lasted. Life goes on. There will be other poets, and other bloggers, and other poets who are bloggers. Just use BlogSearch, or perhaps just start exploring from Gilbert's blogroll.

Three cheers for Blogger!


Alex said...

Hasn't he realised that a newspaper that doesn't "keep churning fresh, engaging material, re-inventing content while retaining some consistency of approach" isn't going to do very well either?

Oh...he works for the Straits Times...no competition..say no more.

hugewhaleshark said...

Oh Mr Wang, you lower yourself to bother explaning...

merf said...

well said. *thumbs up*

dsnake1 said...

another three cheers for Blogger!

Sleepless in Singapore said...

Nowadays, I seldom read beyond 2 or 3 paragraphs of ST articles. But I read every word of your blogs. (only where the topic interests me of course)

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