Monday, October 24, 2005

What is this blogging thing?

I’ve managed to past my 100th post without noticing. I’m sure all of my myriads of readers were out having huge centipost parties, but by me it was quietly ignored…

Anyway, it’s time for some reflection.

I’m still not entirely sure of the purpose of this blog.

What is it like?

Singing in the shower?
Giving a speech in a public square?
Talking to myself out loud on a bus?
Leaving a diary unlocked in the living room?
Graffiti on a wall?
A letter to the editor?

Anyway, I’m not sure. And that makes it hard for me to determine what I’m writing, particularly since I don’t know who I’m writing to. Do I care who hears what I’m saying and why?

I think that one of the main reasons for the lack of clarity as to my intended audience is that I haven’t made it clear who I am.  

From what I’ve seen, there are three kinds of bloggers.

There are those that clearly state their name. Two of them that I read regularly are David Bogner’s Treppenwitz and Dr. Jeffrey Woolf’s My Obiter Dicta.  

On the other side of the spectrum there are those who give no clues as to their identity. I’m not a regular reader of these, but there are plenty. Usually they’re written by individuals who want to write about something rather private, and can’t afford to reveal their names and still write openly.

And in the middle, are those who don’t mention their names directly, but if you read between the lines it may be possible to figure it out. In this group I would include Chayyei Sarah and Ben Chorin.

Some bloggers from the first category have claimed that it is more ethical to put your name on what you write. No hiding behind a mask. Additionally, it’s much easier to promote your blog if you don’t have to hide your name.

I’m not sure I agree with the first point. I think a decent metaphor for a blog could be Spiderman’s costume. (Superman’s costume really doesn’t count for something like this. Without a mask, it’s basically pajamas.)

On the one hand, you’ve got Tobey Maguire. He wears the costume, but wants everyone to know that it’s him. He demands (I assume) that his name appears in the credits and on the posters. He’s not interested in any sense of anonymity.

On the other side you’ve got Peter Parker. He doesn’t want anyone to know that he’s Spiderman. He wears the costume in order to protect his secret. If everyone knew who he was, he wouldn’t be able to function.

And what’s the middle ground? If I (or more likely my son) was to wear a Spiderman costume to a masquerade party, I wouldn’t be devastated if someone were to guess my secret identity. In fact, at some point I’d probably like it. But I’d like people to first try to guess if it was me – would I be the kind of person to wear that costume? Do I fit the role? And if I made the costume myself – how does it look?

And I think that’s what a semi-anonymous blog is about. I don’t have any deep dark secrets (at least that I’m writing about here.) And I’m sure with a minimal amount of detective work, a reader could figure out who I am. That wouldn’t bother me. I’d actually be honored that somebody cared enough to try.

So I think for now I’ll stick with it as it is. For those of you who come by here at times, I hope that my words speak for me. However, to know whether this is really singing in the shower or a public address, it would be nice to know who you are…