MediaWatch: The Strange Joys Of Blogging

“I am no longer sure if I am in control of my blog, or if the blog could also be described as controlling me.”

This line jumped out at me as I was reading Irving Wladawsky-Berger’s latest post: The Evolution of My Complex Relationship with Blogging

It’s a great article about the many wonderful effects that regular blogging has on the person and their experience of themselves.

When I go back and read my entries on blogging in that giddy first year, what comes through is an unexpected sense of wonderment and excitement about being a blogger, part of the emerging, mysterious, amorphous blogosphere. But, after a while, those feelings began to subside.

Over the next few years my relationship with blogging started to evolve into something deeper, darker and . . . more interesting. Even though the blog was something that, in principle, I produced and controlled, it seemed as if it was acquiring a life of its own. I was not sure what was going on and how to best capture and write about those feelings.

This is very much in line with my personal experiences of “blogging” some of which I collected in a short series of essays: 5 Years: Lessons and Insights (see end of post).

I’ve had some truly incredible experiences through blogging. Some that I could even describe as spiritual epiphanies, even though I’m very aware of how ridiculous this sounds.

There is something in the act of writing that is liberating and stimulating. Sometimes I will sit to write a post and it comes out completely different. It’s as if I’m thinking through my fingers and coming up with a better logic. It’s great, I love everything about blogging/reporting in this format.

But I remember a time when I didn’t think much about “blogging” at all. I remember chatting with Mr Wladawsky-Berger when he was a senior executive at IBM. This was when I was at the Financial Times and I was visiting IBM’s stunning HQ in Armonk, New York, set in a bucolic countryside, with deer peeking in through the windows.

We both agreed that there was way too much hype about “blogging” and that there was nothing special about it that was game changing.

Don’t knock it until you try it. A few months later I left the FT to become the first journalist from a major newspaper to leave to become a “journalist/blogger” in mid-2004. And in mid-2005 Mr. Wladawsky-Berger also started blogging.

I started blogging at the urging of colleagues at IBM. In the Spring of 2005 the company was getting ready to launch a major blogging initiative to encourage its employees to participate in the rapidly growing blogosphere. My colleagues felt that as someone closely associated with IBM’s Internet strategy, it was important that I personally become an active blogger.

For several years my friend and colleague John Patrick had been urging me to start a blog. John has always been a pioneer in embracing new technologies. He was one of the first people I knew who had a blog, — which is still going strong after all these years. I resisted John’s exhortations, partly due to the commitment of time and energy it entailed, and partly due to fears that I would not have enough interesting things to write about every week. But, the excitement building up in IBM around the new blogging initiative finally pushed me over the edge. I posted my first blog on May 16, 2005.

Similarly, it was my friends David Galbraith and Om Malik that persuaded me to start blogging. It’s been quite the ride.

When I started, I too felt giddy, it felt like I was joining something new, exciting, transformative. There’s was a new “spring” in the air, there was something happening that very few people understood. It felt like being part of the seminal “Homebrew Computer Club” the hundred or so members of the microcomputer club that included Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Bill Gates and other pioneers…

These days the giddiness is long gone. These days the new media world seems pretty much the same as the old media world. The same big brands mass media is still there. And the “new media” such as GigaOM, VentureBeat, TechCrunch etc, look like the old media with the same editorial structures, formats, etc.

The army of “citizen journalists” that was going to challenge the old order never materialized. And mass media still dominates the daily discourse. “Social media” seems mostly a place where people Tweet or share on Facebook, links to mass media sources – social media has become Social Distribution of Mass Media (SoDOMM).

And the rest of social media is an ocean of simple clicks on “Likes” that recommend products and services — it’s a mundane marketing channel for large brands.

The promise of the “new media” in creating a new world of pioneering journalism; increasing transparency in government and commerce; and improving democracy and the quality of life, has largely disappeared or has been pushed into the sidelines. Oh well. It was fun for a while.

But I would do it again, and again, and again: because of all the incredible experiences and insights that this simple act of “blogging” has delivered in such abundance.

 

[Cross-posted at Silicon Valley Watcher]

About Tom Foremski

Tom Foremski is a former Financial Times journalist. He has been covering Silicon Valley since his arrival from London in 1984. In May 2004 he became the first journalist to leave a major newspaper to make a living as a journalist blogger, publishing Silicon Valley Watcher - reporting on the business and culture of innovation. Tom’s understanding of diverse technologies and his access to global business leaders, make him one of the most prominent media influencers in the technology world.