In a sea of decentralized online services, what should the long-term purpose of a “personal blog” be?His question resonates with me because I also maintain a personal blog here, and have no illusions about turning it into a specialized or topic-centric site (although I must admit that I lately talk about Twitter so much that this sometimes feels like a satellite of the Twitter Fan Wiki. Hah!).
- Does it end up being a catch-all for anything that doesn’t already have a home elsewhere?
- Should it function as a “portal,” aggregating other services?
- Could it be a place for editorial content and longer “essays” (instead of the sometimes typical 1-2 paragraph blog post)?
- Most importantly, what’ll happen to the future of blogs as specialized online services are introduced?
My use of specialized sites has not reduced my blogging
Like Jarrod, I also use specialized sites for different things: there's Twitter for random thoughts, Flickr for my photos, and del.icio.us plus Furl for my bookmarks. Google Reader also acts as my link blog.
But despite my almost daily use of all these specialized sites, I've actually been blogging more in the past few months than I ever have before (I created my first blog in 2003).
On the contrary, Twitter makes me think more, so I blog more
I actually think that Twitter has turned me into a more consistent blogger -- an experience that is certainly not shared by everyone. It's my theory that consistent Twitter usage has put me into a more 'meta' state of mind. By this, I mean that instead of just simply 'doing things', I now spend more time 'thinking about what I'm doing.'
Simply put, I'm in a more reflective state of mind these days because using Twitter forces me to stop and think. And when I'm more inclined to reflect, I find more topics to blog about.
It also helps that I blog for myself
I'm firmly on the "blogging for myself" (vs. blogging for my audience) side of the fence. While I appreciate it when people come and read, I'm a lot less interested in site stats, and definitely driven a lot more by the simple satisfaction of verbalizing my thoughts.
Therefore, I don't feel a need to censor myself when it comes to expressing an idea, and I don't worry about whether or not site visitors will be 'turned off' by a sudden change in topic. I just write whatever comes to mind (as my tagline says), and I feel no pressure about making any of this very insightful, life-altering, or illuminating. As long as it satisfies a need for me to express my thoughts, I write. If it means that the wheat-to-chaff ratio on this blog is lower than most, that is something I'm willing to live with.
Personal blogs are online journals
To close, I think personal blogs will continue to exist for as long as the people who write them continue to benefit from the act of writing.
Personal blogging is just one more modern manifestation of the instinctive and basic human need to record our lives, a need that has existed for centuries -- as evidenced by all the paper-based journals that our ancestors have left behind.