Friday, November 07, 2008

Why I blog

One of the finest magazines of all time, in my humble opinion, is The Atlantic*. One of their stable of impressive writers is Andrew Sullivan. His blog, The Daily Dish, is well worth a look. He covers a wide variety of topics in posts which are short, often witty and always to the point.

In the print edition of The Atlantic, he publishes a longer piece called Why I blog. Parts of this insightful article state:
A blog, therefore, bobs on the surface of the ocean but has its anchorage in waters deeper than those print media is technologically able to exploit. It disempowers the writer to that extent, of course. The blogger can get away with less and afford fewer pretensions of authority. He is—more than any writer of the past—a node among other nodes, connected but unfinished without the links and the comments and the track-backs that make the blogosphere, at its best, a conversation, rather than a production.


To blog is therefore to let go of your writing in a way, to hold it at arm’s length, open it to scrutiny, allow it to float in the ether for a while, and to let others, as Montaigne did, pivot you toward relative truth. A blogger will notice this almost immediately upon starting. Some e-mailers, unsurprisingly, know more about a subject than the blogger does. They will send links, stories, and facts, challenging the blogger’s view of the world, sometimes outright refuting it, but more frequently adding context and nuance and complexity to an idea. The role of a blogger is not to defend against this but to embrace it. He is similar in this way to the host of a dinner party. He can provoke discussion or take a position, even passionately, but he also must create an atmosphere in which others want to participate.
Reading this has made me evaluate why I blog and how I blog. I have yet to come to firm conclusions but one thing I am going to try: I'm reopening the comments section (not anonymous, though) as an experiment. I'm not keen on overseeing flame wars so if that starts up then I'll be shutting down the comments again. And you should expect a site redesign within the next few months.

Welcome back to OffalNews.

*What other publication could trawl through their files and come up a previously unpublished Mark Twain story?