In “Why I Blog”, Andrew Sullivan (1) writes that ‘as blogging evolves as a literary form, it generates a new and quintessentially postmodern idiom that’s enabling writers to express themselves in ways that have never been seen or understood before.’
The enforced seclusion caused by COVID 19 nudged me to start experimenting with this form. I have kept notes on my work, personal life and professional experiences on my laptop, which turned out to be handy raw materials for my blogs. The speeches I had given on various occasions also became good material to be converted into blogs. Some of these were technical talks on plasma processing, thermonuclear fusion and other applications of plasma physics, which, when converted into blogs, attracted good response. How my poems came to be composed became an interesting set of blogs.
I had a dormant blogspot.com account, and I decided to start writing on that site. After continuing on Blogspot for a couple of months, I shifted to a WordPress blog site. In a short time, I converted to a paid site, www.pucadyil.blog, which I still maintain.
Web statistics(2) reveal that there will be over 600 million blogs and 1.9 billion websites worldwide in 2022. There are over 6 million blog posts published every day and more than 2.5 billion every year. It is the Internet’s true gift of empowerment to writers, giving them to link with their peers and readers without third party interventions.
I started writing on Medium last year. Medium is an internet platform for writers created in 2012 by Ev Williams, the co-founder of Twitter. The community of active users is said to exceed 60 million per month.
Medium takes care of the technical aspects of maintaining a website, allowing you the luxury of focusing on your writing. They also provide a community of writers who interacts with your piece, which is quite different from posting on an owned website, where you are the only writer.
Medium has many functionalities, which makes posting easy. You can import your published stories from other sites, edit the content after import and effectively re-publish them to your platform. Your Medium account can be linked to social media pages allowing other people to find you.
Medium has many metrics for evaluating your post, the number of viewers, readers and the time spent on the post. Fans represent the users who clapped for any given story. You can get an idea of the reaction or overall sentiment of an article’s performance from this data, which is an insight that you may not be able to get on other platforms. The mobile app is a handy method to keep track of the reader-response metrics.
In principle, you can get paid on Medium if you are a member of the Medium Partner Program. However, I learned that the programme does not extend to writers from India and a few other countries. Medium may have reasons to follow this practice. But this is discriminatory, and I hope Medium will correct this asymmetry in the future.
Writing compels you to organise your thoughts. While writing on serious and technical subjects, the gaps in your knowledge will pop up, which you will have to examine and fill in. Writing is a great way to internalise ideas, knowledge and experience. In addition, writing helps you gain complete mastery over the topic you’re writing about.
There are many expositions(3) on the motivations behind blogging in the blog literature. The blogs function to broadcast content and opinions and become a medium to interact with a community. Blogs are a tool for creativity. While writing, the bloggers may be sensitive to their potential readership. The blog may be meant as a tool for social interaction, although the blogger may downplay that. Response by readers in the blog metrics in a comment or critique may produce a sense of connection in the blogger. This response is essential for the blog as a tool for communication. Whether blogs are ephemeral or whether they have lasting value and credibility like printed material is an open question for research.
Julia Davies and Guy Merchant (4) make some interesting observations on Blogs being a new kind of literary vehicle. Blogs provide novel capabilities like hyperlinks to information sources. Site meters monitor “visits” from others. RSS feeds alert subscribed readers to other newly updated sites. There is a facility to embed other texts within one’s own and the possibility of including a range of modalities, from audio podcasts to video streams. All these add dimensionality to the otherwise flat text. Imagine how much richer the great classics would have become had these new digital functionalities been available to those writers.
Blogging appears to be closely associated with self-presentation and forming an impression — a subtle way of digital preening. By publishing without any editorial evaluation, the blogger may become vulnerable and the victim of wrong interpretation. Yet, at the same time, the blogs give us visibility, thereby helping us gain digital identity, acclaim and respect.
The social software used by blog hosts promotes the development of online relationships. The regularity of blog updates may invite those in a social network to make regular visits. In this social world, the visitor or reader has considerable freedom to determine the reading path and the level of attention paid to the text, depth of reading, and degree of interactivity. Bloggers, whether at any one time they are producers or consumers, navigate their way around a thickly interwoven fabric of online and offline texts, which often blend severe and more frivolous discourses.
Blogging is the characteristic of a unique type of social networking. These particular social networks operate in both online and offline spaces. The blurring of those boundaries that define the public and private spheres of our lives in these times is a vital characteristic of blogs in general.
(1) The Atlantic November 2008
(3) “Motivations for blogging in a scholarly context” published in First Monday, Volume 15, Number 8–2 August 2010
(4) “Looking from the Inside Out: Academic Blogging as New Literacy” in A New Literacies Sampler, New York: Peter Lang. (Pp 167–198)