I thought I’d stay close to home this week and blog about blogging.
The blogging tide may have turned. Lone bloggers are either joining group blogs (like this one) or morphing into Facebook, Twitter, or other social sites. In the past month half a dozen on-line interest groups that I follow have instituted or arguing about instituting a no-blog-promotion policy. And indeed, at least two of these sites have turned into less than 20% useful information and over 80%, “come visit my blog” messages.
The problem with blogs is that they are too insular. Even if by some chance 10 writers decided to blog on the same topic on the same day—a statistical certainty given the number of blogs out there—and I happened to be following all 10—low statistical probability given the number of blogs out there and the amount of time to read blogs in a given day—there’s no mechanism for connecting separate comments into a single meaningful discussion.
Even if I Google one blog topic, say writing query letters, that generates over 900,000 possible sites. It doesn’t separate out query letters for non-fiction and poetry versus those for fiction and, within fiction, wouldn’t tell me which were query letters for short stories versus those for longer works. It would also give me no clue about the quality of the recommendations in a given blog.
Most important, Google entries are ranked according to popularity. Those blogs which had had a lot of hits would be listed in the top ten, and the particular blog I would find most helpful might be down at number 803,221. There’s no way I’m going to scroll through over eight hundred thousand blog entries to find the one that meets my needs.
Scientists faced a similar problem several years ago. The amount of available research data and the number of research projects world-wide had grown far beyond using conferences and peer-review journals to distribute findings within in the scientific community.
The Liebel-Lab at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany developed a pilot project called Sciencenet, which makes raw research data available to other scientists. The goal of this and other Peer2Peer projects is first to give scientists a reliable way to share data and help them connect with one another.
We're drowning in information and starving for knowledge.
~Rutherford D. Rodgers, librarian, Yale University
Amen, Doctor Rogers. What we need to do as writers is spend less time writing isolated postings and more time coming together as a community for discussion and problem-solving.
So if a new writer asked me if she should start a blog, my answer today would be "no." What I'd suggest that she do instead is join an established Internet group and contribute what she would have written in her blog into the general discussion. We need more cohesion, not more fragmentation.