Monday, 6 August 2007

Blogging the Blog

Well, I have reached my third month of blogging. The title of this post was prompted by a children's programme of the 1970s called 'Noggin the Nog' which was about a King Noggin of a people called the Nogs, who appeared pretty much like 11th century Normans. In contrast to many children's programmes of that period which have been revived on DVD this one seems to have missed out.

Anyway, what is the significance of the third month of blogging? Well apparently that is how long the bulk of blogs last. In the way that it is said that everyone has 'one book inside them' you could add these days 'and three months of blogging'. Why is this the case? I think it is because blogs fall into three categories. The largest one, is the type that I initially set out to produce here: a tool for anger management. In this world in which it is difficult to get your voice heard even when dealing with companies and utility suppliers who you are paying large sums of money, let alone in terms of the political scene, many people feel immense frustration. We live in an age when anger is a normal part of behaviour and in some ways is a lightning rod to conduct away our sense of powerlessness in the huge and pretty oppressive world. However, certainly in the UK, with on-the-spot fines and ASBOs (Anti-Social Behaviour Orders) becoming so common, it is difficult to express than anger in public. In contrast the internet is kind of 'public' but without that kind of policing. You see anger come out on discussion boards, but even there, there are moderators and other contributors who restrain anger. On a blog generally you are the ruler, you decide what is appropriate. On that tack, I am intrigued by the number of blogs you come across with pornographic material on. They do not have bars the way pornographic websites do. Blogging, at present is incredibly free. So, the prime reason why I started this blog, as my first posting shows, is because of my anger and frustration: at the Blair government, at harrasment from my landlord, at the difficulties of getting a house in the UK, the dangerous way people drive, the end of my relationship and bullying at work. I was unable to do anything about any of these things, so I could blog my anger. I must say it has worked successfully and I guess that is the same for the other 3-month bloggers. You can get all of your anger out in 3 months of blogging and even if new problems arise you have stated your view of the world and what is wrong with it and that is applicable to the new problems. So the blog has served its purpose. It may also introduce you to people across the world who are encountering similar things and a problem shared is one halved. Blogs are a useful tool as they must have saved at least some people from counselling. They do not cost money and you can self-prescribe.

Now, of course many blogs last longer than 3 months. Why? Well, in my view it is because of their nature. This is probably why my blog will continue now I am passed my anger management phase as it is morphing into a different type of blog. I see two other types of blog: the journal and the scrapbook. The journal is probably closest to the original conception of what a blog was about from its full title 'weblog', i.e. like a captain's log on board a ship of any noteworthy events. This is the kind of blog you tend to see on commercial sites recording some trip or exercise that the TV presenters or some celebrity is going through. These things often have a finite life because once the trip or experience is over the blog is over. However, I find that such people then set off on another trip and so revive their blog. Thus, whilst the life of the blog may be erratic it does live on. I do find such blogs very intimidating. The ones in which people log their terminal illness are incredibly painful; those in which people outline their adventures or their court battles or whatever make me feel inadequate as I know I will never experience such things or if I did would be utterly unable to cope with them. Both kinds of blog can be found on this host. You can sit looking at the opening screen and see them flick past and then dive into one or two. As I have said before I am always astounded how blogs on so many subjects and in so many languages sit 'side-by-side' on the system. This kind of journal blogging harks back to earlier eras, these people are the inheritors of Samuel Pepys and Victorian explorers and hopefully not of Anne Frank, but certainly of ages past when keeping a journal was a vital exercise and for historians has provided a wealth of material about real lives and experiences from those times. I can easily see research in the coming years, drawing on blogs to get a rich slice of life in the 2000s. I have kept a diary every day since the year I turned 11, but this blog, with its focuse on the pressures I am facing and my analysis of them, is now providing a supplemental to that written journal. (Un)fortunately my life has not been that exciting so I doubt the world will be too interested in my life in the future. However, with my memory failing rapidly, it allows me to keep touch with my own experience. That is important.

The other form of blog which is equally common is the scrapbook. This often overlaps with the journal as family blogs often outline the adventures that the family has been on and yet also includes photos and other scrapbook elements. Similarly blogs about bands will have the journal of tours and performances inter-cut with images and other elements. However, there is also the scrapbook of the collector. I came across one on this blog in which the blogger listed recipes relating to dates (i.e. the fruit not the calendar dates). My blog has become like that as I 'paste in' things about alternate history. As with all blogging there is a sense of self-importance in the scrapbook type of blog. It is, however, that what you find interesting must interest others and I guess that that is a legitimate thought. In a world of billions of people, you can probably guarantee that there is someone else out there who shares your interest. Over the weekend I read about a website for people fascinated by hiccoughs/hiccups, not my cup of tea as the British say, but for those people who are interested it must be a wonderful source.

For authors internet blogs are so useful. Whereas it would have taken hours or days to find out names of people in a certain country and the habits they follow, these days you can quickly pick up authentic voices that provide depth to your writing. I read a book in the 1990s which was one of hundreds advising you how to write a book. However, it said that with the complexity of the modern world amateurs should not bother writing fiction because they could not get the facts right and this would undermine their books and mean no-one would be interested in them. Of course this is rubbish, great authors have made errors, look at Ian Fleming, he even blundered on things like pistols which made up a central element of his novels. In addition, people can always start writing about what they know before adventuring further afield, especially these days in which 'life writing' (of which blogging is clearly an element) is so popular. However, that book could certainly not be written nowadays when we can access so much about the world and its details without leaving our chair.

So, blogs have a range of functions and they add to the richness of the world the internet has opened up for us. Their key benefit is to the people who write them, but that does not mean others cannot derive use from them as well. My blog seems now to be straddling the different genres, with me blogging the ongoing pressures of work and accommodation like a journal and then using it as a scrapbook for alternate history discussions. I cannot say if I will be here in 5 years time, but certainly I see myself running beyond the 3-month milestone.

P.P. 01/02/2010: The complete 'Noggin the Nog' became available to buy on DVD in 2009.

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