Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Theory and Practice of Blogging

I don't often blog on blogging -- if blogging is a form of mental masturbation, then blogging about blogging is surely a kind of self-absorbed pornography -- but the excellent, which does translations from all over the world, had a link to this set of papers on the theories and practices of blogging. Those of you expats who blog, what do ya think of this comment?

<7> The same is true for the expatriate blogger. In order for the blog topics to remain compelling for the reader, I would argue that the blogger must not get too close or assimilate too deeply to the adopted culture. Everything depends on the blogger's ability to stand back and comment on what they see in such a way that they are still able to present it as interesting and fresh for their readers, and perhaps, by so doing, understanding and making the new experience part of themselves. Once blogged, the experience can be absorbed into the Self, which is always already in the process of comglomeration and transformation.

This is not a position that I agree with at all. Great blogging also comes from people who are deeply assimilated and knowledgeable about the local culture, knowledgeable about the world outside their country of residence, and able to navigate in the murky waters between their multiple and uneasily jostling side-by-side perspectives.

Interesting stuff there in that article. Hat tip to Kerim for reminding me about interlocals.


MJ Klein said...

Michael, as you know, i have a very long history with online services and the internet, dating back to the late 80s. i content that nearly nothing that is called "blogging" these days, actually is.

back in the old days, people created online journals, with daily logs of what they did, places they went, things they saw, etc. eventually, sites were created to host communities of these people who kept daily journals. then, these developed into web logging sites and hence the (we)blog was born.

nowadays, sites like allow people to develop websites without having to host them. so you find that places like really have very few actual blogs, where people talk about their lives and actually record events in which they personally participated; you will find many other things going on, such as "how to win an ipod" etc.. these days, "blogging" is all but lost and its mostly just people commenting on things (largely policital) or more commonly, complaining about something - a practice that i call "webitching".

personally i try to preserve the original nature of blogging. i've had commercial and hobby websites since 1996 and i have always used those sites to expound my own opinions, but i used to write articles very much like blogging too, but i hosted those sites at my own expense.

i generally avoid random blog broswing now because its all political bullshit/complaining and not much of anything interesting that people are doing, with a few exceptions.

funny but just today i was thinking about how blogging has degenerated into negative reporting and campaigning activities. (sigh) i would like to see more interesting stuff that people do (along with photos). hey, anyone can talk trash about some idiot politican. trying to come up with interesting articles about daily activities, along with photos is a challenge, as you well know Michael.

more blog, less pol.

porkbarrel said...

In fact, there is nothing more annoying than an expat going on and on about how weird or exotic their host country is. People are rarely fully assimilated and retain some of the perspective of their past, but the more integrated with the local scene they are, the better, if we want to get an idea of what is really going on. This blog is a great example of canny local perspective by an expat and that's why it's the first one I check when I want to catchup on Taiwan.

Anonymous said...

I think that the person responsible for this sentence:

Once blogged, the experience can be absorbed into the Self, which is always already in the process of comglomeration and transformation.

needs to have some sense slapped into them.

Anonymous said...

I sometimes enjoy the fresh perspectives shared by "newbies". After daily routines are established, it's easy to forget the things expats find interesting.

I like mj's comment. But one must actually make a stand and decide to put personal things on the blog, not always easy.

I've had difficulty deciding on what to blog so I guess I try and think of things my grandmother would like to see.

Anonymous said...

"...if blogging is a form of mental masturbation, then blogging about blogging is surely a kind of self-absorbed pornography"

ha! excellent. i wish i'd written that.

Michael Turton said...

I'm sorta with El. I don't want to get personal, so I try to link my life to something greater comment about Taiwan whenever I post. Except with pics. Those stand by themselves.


Prince Roy said...

I kind of agree with what this guy is saying, to a point, at least if the target readership are those outside the country. A lot of times expats get too caught up in the host culture, and come to have an agenda of one kind or another. But the other extreme: living in the place 25 years walled away in the foreigner's ghetto and not even being able to speak the native lingo (and proud of the fact) is bad too.

I can see MJ's point as well, although if the blogger has a variety of topics and pet peeves, I'm ok with that. I think that daily journals can make the worst kinds of sites. There's only so many times I want to read about 'today I had the ham sandwich for lunch'. But he's right in the larger sense.

In my own blog, I probably violate most of the rules about what I like in a blog, but given my current situation, that can't really be helped.

MJ Klein said...

lots of excellent comments on this post, and this is a great example of real blogging.

i do my own share of webitching, that's for sure, lol, but i do want to say that i think Michael's blog is one so the most well balanced blogs i have ever read. Michael's photography is always great and the fact that it stands alone is evidenced by all of the posts with random shots that have nothing to do with the subject matter, but nevertheless are just _so cool_ that it works.

i appreciate el's comment about personal things on a blog. the tricky part is to figure out how much you wish to reveal about yourself.

prince roy's comment about the daily ham sandwich is very well taken!

it looks like Michael and i will have some more interesting "local flavor" after this weekend ;).