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Blogs

I don't get it.

Blogs are dull. Banal, uninteresting facts about the lives and thoughts of people I've never heard of and will never meet. Badly written, too. Why the fuss?

I'm interested in reading about the movers and shakers in the IT world, sure. JoelOnSoftware is something I'd class as an "interesting blog". I keep up with various writers and musicians I like through their websites. But why the excitement about blogs in general? Does anyone actually _read_ the majority of them?

Am I being too cynical? What have I missed here?

Adrian Gilby
Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Blogs are an incredible source of links you'd never happen across otherwise. That makes them pretty valuable to a weirdness-seeking entertainment surfer like myself.

Sometimes, bloggers write things that either validate your own thoughts, or give form to something you haven't completely thought through yet. Alternatively, they reveal to you what your "opponents" think, or where they're coming from on a particular issue.

I don't think anyone enjoys more than a handful of blogs, and I think most blog-readers probably stick to the few they like. You admitted you find JoS an interesting read, so is it so difficult to imagine that others might find some different blogs interesting as well? I love hearing others' thoughts and points of view. Sometimes they're thought-provoking or even entertaining.

I only read a couple regularly, but I'm always willing to try a new one for a few days -- it's kind of like being able to lurk invisible and hear what other people think. Of course you're only hearing what they want you to hear, but it's still interesting to me.

Troy King
Tuesday, September 24, 2002

I thought blogs were boring as all get-out too.  But don't confuse the current uses for them as the concept.  I have a friend who's interested in this communication form, and it's better to think of it as a generalization of discussion forums, where you don't ever need to be on the same page as others, and everything is not so constrained.

In fact, that's probably why this forum can work at all, since for the things it fails at, you have blogs to take care of.

Consider that blogs are evolving.  They have business uses; and things like Groove are making newer things happen.  People have all sorts of information in their heads, and blogs draw this out.

Greg Neumann
Tuesday, September 24, 2002

There is a famous exchange between a TV critic and a TV producer where the critic tell the producer that 90% of television is crap.  The producer replies back, “90% of everything is crap.”  Blogs are no different. While many are the journalistic equivalent of a personal home page with too many cat pictures, there is a bunch of stuff out there that is really entertaining.  YMMV.

The key in the future will be getting all the stuff that is interesting and useful to float to the top. The problem is that both cream and crap float.

Rick DeMent
Tuesday, September 24, 2002

That's called Sturgeon's law. See http://groups.google.com/groups?q=sturgeon%27s+law&hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&selm=19991106201042.08680.00000079%40ngol01.aol.com&rnum=3 . Original quote was "Sure, 90% of science fiction is crud. That's because 90% of everything is crud," by scifi author Theodore Sturgeon.

Matt Christensen
Tuesday, September 24, 2002

I stand humbly corrected.

Rick DeMent
Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Blogs are stupid when they're filled with comments like, "Today, I woke up, had breakfast, and went shopping for shoes".

Blogs are useful when the writer combs through news sources daily, looking for items-of-interest in some relatively narrow field.

Alex Chernavsky
Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Blog away folks.  There's too much of nearly everything in this world and it's just great, there are a few ponies in there.

For those very personal blogs, the current audience may only be a very few friends.  But I hope the personal bloggers print their stuff before they let their sites go dead.  The ultimate audience will be their children and grandchildren who may someday be very interested.

I'm working web diaries for two folks.  They don't call them blogs, they are just leaving stories behind for their heirs.  The web is a fun way to do it.

tk
Tuesday, September 24, 2002

A blog (ugh...hideous word, blog...) full of nothing but links to commercial news sites quickly loses my interest: there's already too much news out there for me to keep up with, I don't need strangers throwing still more links at me.

I like the idea of recording the random minutiae of daily existence - got up, had breakfast, bought shoes - for later perusal. I want to remember, ten or thirty years from now, what it was like to be me. I want my children, my grandchildren (should I ever have any) to know.

That someone reading my pages might find them boring does not oblige me to change what I write about. Maybe I really am boring: if so, why lie to posterity?

Pat Rice
Tuesday, September 24, 2002

pat - you've hit the nail on the head.  when i write my blog about what i had for breakfast (Cracklin' Oat Bran) and how it gets stuck in my teeth and i spend 10 minutes just trying to get all that stuff out from between my teeth and cheeks before i just go get a drink of water and rinse, well, that's what i choose to write about.  why should i be criticized for writing about that on my journal?  i actually addressed this issue on my personal blog:

http://klaviman.livejournal.com/day/2002/03/05

nathan
Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Maintaining a blog is a rewarding hobby. It lets me make constructive use of skills - thinking about random subjects, writing something besides documentation, arranging a visual presentation - that aren't relevant to my work life. After I discover an interesting article, have an insight, or complete a book, it's satisfying to record my impressions online.

My blog has a tiny readership, which isn't surprising since many others are significantly better. The blog exists for my benefit, and it's one of the more satisfying ways that I've found to occupy my leisure time.

Julian's Jabberings
http://www.mindspring.com/~teleri/julian/

Julian
Wednesday, September 25, 2002

I think another useful aspect is when a number of blogs that frequently discuss an area focus on a particular subject for a few days. It's in an asynchronous middle ground between mailing lists, discussion forums, IRC and bs'ing around a few beers.

For instance, a number of the blogs on Java topcs [1] , including mine [2], are currently talking around object/relational mapping issues. Everyone brings something different to the table which makes it different than talking to the same kool-aid drinkers. Plus there's an extremely high signal/noise ratio due to the lack of anonymity and the personal context.

Just my experience...

[1] http://radio.weblogs.com/0107789/stories/2002/06/03/javaAndJ2eeWeblogs.html 

[2] http://www.cwinters.com/

Chris Winters
Wednesday, September 25, 2002

BTW, why is it called "blog" ?

[Is it a play on word ? : weblog -> we blog -> blog ]

Robert Chevallier
Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Yep, weblog -> blog.

Me
Thursday, September 26, 2002

In my opinion, Joel on Software is barely a weblog. It's updated too infrequently.

My favorite weblogs are Dive Into Mark ( http://www.diveintomark.org ) and Lambda the Ultimate ( http://lambda.weblogs.com ), the latter being devoted to programming languages, having almost no personal commentary ("My kitty is so cute, let me show you some pictures."). I wish there were more computer science weblogs...

-Warren

Warren Henning
Saturday, September 28, 2002

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