Monday, December 14, 2009

A Few Notes on Blogging

It's interesting to think about blogging itself and what we're trying to do here and how the act of blogging has changed me personally. It must be noted I haven't written this much and this regularly since I finished my last degree in December 1993. I have grown as a writer and commenter over these months. Sometimes, the writing is easy and the phrases come out just right. Other times, I have to work to get it the way I want it.

This blog has gone in different directions at different times. When we were hot and heavy on the MAST/KC Fire merger mess, it was very eyewitness newsy. That may have gained me readers. However, I can't do that all the time. There could be other moments when I go to City Hall and see first hand what is reported in the paper and on TV and blog about it. It is no longer the season for that now. There are others, with connections years in the making, that can get the City Hall happenings reported. I can still have an opinion, of course. Since the MAST mess has rumbled to its conclusion, the blog has gone off in other directions. Generally, that has been in direction of opinion, mainly mine. Sometimes, my opinion comes highly flavored with Christian theology. That may have turned off readers! That is, however, not going to change much. When I consider an issue, my Christian faith is part of my consideration. Take crime for example. I cannot write about crime without mentioning sin. That will cause the post to go in other directions as the issue is considered. Health care the same thing. So you will continue to see a Christian view and influence on the opinions here. When I decide to write about an experience I had in the course of my day, my Christian faith will be a part of that post too.

The blog forces me to think logically and think through positions as I consider them and write about them. For example, calling the current U.S. administration "socialist" is very common in conservative circles these days. I have found that I want to go beyond name calling into more detailed consideration about what government's role in its citizens lives is. The back and forth, the tension, between this country's deepest values and thoughts, and the execution of its governance is very interesting. This country's government is more "socialist" then I think most conservatives would concede. I'm still thinking on these things, but in this somewhat subtle way, blogging has changed my political view a little bit.

I suppose I would be a better writer if I made notes and created drafts of my posts before publishing. Aside from the fact that that sounds a lot like school, I find that that system doesn't work all that well for me. You see I have two tendencies that work against that being a good idea. One is that I am a world class procrastinator. I am much better off to chose a topic, make up my mind to do the post, then just do it. Sometimes that means I am researching an important fact on the spot--I minimize the blog, and go off and google and check on things. I do want to make sure I get facts right. The second thing is I suffer from "one more citation" disease. There is always another fascinating source to check. Also my perfectionist tendencies say "Get all your argument's ducks in a row." By having writing right before me that will be ready for public consumption right away, it creates a limit to how much research I can do. As well, I remind myself that this is not a debate club. A post is a spring board for further discussion, not the be all and end all. As far as editing, I read each post several times along the way, sometimes aloud. I watch for spelling and grammar, and the dreaded homophone. (Is it to, too, or two? There, they're or their? Spell check won't catch those clunkers!) I ask, does it sound good? Does it progress? Does this word, sentence, paragraph, move the essay forward, or am I repeating myself? Does the beginning of the post/essay mesh with the end, since, because I write without notes or outline, I ended up in a different place than where I thought I might?

Which leads me to one last subject: comments. I read comments on other blogs, and on news stories. Oh, there's junk in the comment section, for sure. There are a lot of pearls though. On Tony's Kansas City, which is probably the leading new/political blog in KC, often people close to the situation, hiding under "anonymous" write things that add significantly to the subject. I read (somewhere!) that most people don't read the comment section; I can't imagine not reading the comment section! Thank you, thank you to all who comment--there is no such thing as too many comments!

When I am not sure about the blog, or wonder where I'm headed, I just mentally put myself out on the front deck of my or one of my neighbor's houses. We're just visiting. Sometimes it's deep; sometimes frivolous. We have a good time. We tell each other what we've been reading, watching or listening to. We offer opinions. We exchange information. We show off our latest photographs. We talk about what happened down at the Wal-Mart today. I always leave these front porch encounters refreshed and revived. It's the human connection, it works even in cyberspace.

Thanks for reading along.


Anonymous said...

Interestingly, the MAST debacle has not yet rumbled to a conclusion...

Ann T. said...

Dear The Observer,
I also love comments, and I like to read others, but not all. A lot of time I don't read them at news stories or youTube because they so quickly become character assassination.

I like blogging because you can maintain the basis for discussion so much more (just as if it was your own living room). I've only deleted one comment in three months, and it was in Asian characters to a blog with nothing on it: spam, in other words.

And I think your blog is a lot like sitting around a kitchen table, which is how you described it, or on the front porch, talking over the details.

It Is the human connection.

Thanks for thinking it through for us,

Ann T.