I've had blogger's block lately. As more people read my blog, I realize that I am writing for larger and larger audience. Just about every time I post something, I get thoughtful comments and email from a variety of perspectives. I realize that post early/post often is probably the best policy for blogging, but the rigor in which entries are discussed and the increasing percentage of people who I meet who have read my blog cause me to try to blog about things which are interesting yet not likely to cause me to spend a lot of time defending myself. The fact is, I'm becoming more and more conservative about what I blog.
danah boyd often talks about the collapsing of the facets of our identity. (As I continue to collapse her context by linking to her constantly.) She quotes an article about "Mom Finds Out About Blog". This relates to Erving Goffman's "The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life" where he talks about how we perform differently to different audiences presenting different facets of our identity. The problem with many blogs is that the audience includes so many different communities of people that it collapses the facets of one's identity and requires you to choose a rather shallow facet which becomes your public identity. For instance, I know that people in the US State Department, friends from my Chicago DJ days, my employees, my family, thoughtful conservatives from Texas, cypherpunk friends, foreign intelligence officers, Japanese business associates and close friends all read my blog occasionally. In real life, I present a very different facet of my identity to these different communities, but on my blog I have to imagine how all of them will react as a craft these entries. None of them get the depth that I am able to present when I am performing for them directly. So, although I am exposing many personal thoughts such as my decision to quit drinking, the depth of my identity is becoming shallow because the context is collapsed. Most of the truly thoughtful comments I have received about my drinking have been in email and IM and I am sure my blog will not help me discover my inner goofball.
Halley writes about intimacy. What does it mean? I think intimacy relates to the Robin Dunbar's magic number 150. At this moment there are 87 people hanging out on #joiito and 216 people in my instant messenger buddy list (some are the same people). On the other hand, I have 490 connections in LinkedIn, have 510 phone numbers in my cell phone and get about 1000 new years cards. On my blog, I get about 13,000 unique sessions (30,000 page views) per day. Today, I attended a fund-raising meeting for a non-profit, and a political campaigner said that generally, one was expected to have to shake 50,000 hands to get elected.
Ross Mayfield broke the networks down into political, social and creative at 1000's, 150 and 12, but my feeling is that the political layer is 10's of thousands and next layer is business at 500 and social at 150 and creative at 12. This is not scientific, but just my personal observation. If this is true, this blog is approaching the political layer which explains why I feel that I get more business done on LinkedIn, but I feel much more candid and happy on IRC and Chat and why I still really love dinner conversations most of all. I think that if you can manage the audience size and composition on your blog, you can tune it to any of these layers. Mena often talks about how blogs are more about normal people blogging with their friends than about pundits competing against the media. I would agree and think this may be more rewarding at an emotional level than taking your blog to the political level. What you have to be careful of is that you never know when you might suddenly become popular or when your mom might drop into your blog and your context will collapse around you. Managing your audience and the facets of your identity is a very difficult thing and navigating this has and always will be one of our biggest challenges both in the real world and online.
Blogging about not being able to blog...