Sunday, March 21, 2004

Why Bother Blogging, Anyway?

It occurred to me today that our extended family's egroup, 54highland (currently hosted as a yahoo egroup), is not as effective as it might be in helping members communicate feelings, thoughts, and opinions. There are many reasons why group email doesn't function well this way, but perhaps the most obvious is that email tends to be geared towards news messages only. In other words, as soon as an individual "gets personal" or has an "opinion", someone is bound to be offended. Similarly, telephone conversations with family members tend to deal with simple items of family life and talk about things like weather, sports, etc. without getting very detailed or even very informative. Not to say such means of communication are useless; far from it, they keep the wheels oiled and are a very useful means of saying "you mean something to me." But they have limitations.

Blogging or journaling is usually very personal. But it can also be collaborative and one way in which family members can discover more about one another than is possible through phone conversations, gatherings, and email. So I was considering inviting some of the technically oriented extended family members to collaborate on setting up some kind of web site in which we could provide more open-ended communication features for one another. Never having done web logs before, though, I thought I would first do some research and even attempt some entries of my own before extending an invitation to others to consider doing something similar.

Another reason why I am blogging is simply because my experience has convinced me that I often don't know exactly what I think until I take the time to write it down. The very act of using text, or trying to articulate my thoughts, helps me to discover those thoughts. I have been guilty of using email and group discussion lists in the past for this very purpose; namely, discovering more about myself. Some appreciate the effort; others do not. That's true for family egroups just as much as it is for lists of friends, acquaintances or people with similar interests. And, since I haven't been participating much in egroups recently, blogging seems an excellent match for my experience with writing and my interest in communications technologies.

Anyway, here we go. Blogger seems as good a place to start as any other. Perhaps even better, since it is recommended in an MSDN article about blogging. To get started, I have also downloaded and installed the blogging plug-in for Windows Media Player. That way, I can begin to share a bit about my listening habits too.