Lovink (Reader, page 222) also argues that: “No matter how much talk there is of community and mobs, the fact remains that blogs are primarily used as a tool to manage the self”.
Blogs have developed a lot further than Lovink’s 2007 discussion of their main uses. His claims that ‘blogs are primarily a tool to self manage’, that they focus on ‘personal experiences, rarely ‘foster public debate’ and are essentially a ‘private diary’ (2007: 6) is a narrow perspective that limits the blogosphere to a single self-serving purpose. Certainly there are a large percentage of blogs that perhaps do exactly that, however blogging has allowed other communities to emerge, in business, journalism, computing, politics, and many other fields where blogs go beyond this narrow definition. Furthermore, through assessing my own travel blog online. I intend to counter Lovink’s view that the self-serving nature of blogs do very little to form communities online (2007: 28.)
I got the opportunity to work as a blogger for Channel V in Miami and New Orleans for 2 weeks in November last year. My blog acts as a great example of what Lovink would define as a part of the majority of bloggers are doing. However, its development over a 3 month period highlights a lot more than that. My role was to blog on what the Channel [V] crew got up to during the shoot of their B430 travel show. Thus, the blog was not a ‘tool to self-manage’ but rather to report on the events of an overseas television shooting week. Although there was a personal element to my blogs where my own feelings, impressions and opinions were expressed, its sole purpose was reporting on the things happening around the crew. Furthermore, an interaction began between blogger and reader, the comments on each page and a consistent group of followers were the first sign of a community forming. I was able to respond to friends and strangers alike. At the conclusion of the trip readers were able to ask questions about my trip via a live chatroom on the blog. A discussion formed for the following weeks around people planning to travel to the US. I was able to provide tips and suggestions for anyone else in the same position. This example illustrates how the dynamic of blogging can actually be shaped by the audience and the way the community developed shows how it can benefit others, not just the self.
The graph above illustrates the reasons why people blog. The statistics suggest that there are a number of reasons outside of self-management. One of the highest rating reasons ‘to meet and connect with like-minded people’ defies Lovink’s assessment. Blogs have been vital in recent years for reporting news where journalists have had little access. Technology blogs have given insight into new products and their specifications. Business’s have been able to advertise their products and increase their corporate visibility in the market (Brain Solis, the State of the Blogosphere) and discussions have been able to thrive on GBLT blogs and in sex-positive feminist community (see Danielles blog). I echo many fellow students views in saying that blogs cannot be defined as one homogenous group of people and that their purpose cannot solely be explained as a ‘tool to self-manage’.
Lovink, G 2007, “Blogging: The Nihilistic Impulse”, Zero Comments: Blogging and Critical Internet Culture, London: Routledge, pp.1-38