Friday, March 23, 2012

Blogging Our Posterity

A friend recently posted this question on her Facebook page:

"Do bloggers really want honest feedback or are they just looking for affirmation? Blogs used to be filled with interesting ideas and cutting edge information, but now in a time when everyone and their monkey has a blog, I am beginning to wonder what the purpose is..."

After a little back and forth banter, I responded:

"I've actually thought about this a bit from a professional point of view - as an archivist. People now have an opportunity to have their words and lives saved in a way they thought they never could before. Perhaps posting online is a way to validate yourself, make a statement, and know that the words will be there 'forever.' I often spend time convincing my audiences at programs that historical societies are interested in their family papers. While people seem to intuitively 'get' that the Internet is waiting for their words and that in a digital environment people care what they say, they don't translate it to papers at an institution, but it's the same thing. It's sort of as if the Internet has given them permission to have their ideas saved for posterity." 

In an age where we explore our identity online --  from "Lifestreaming" to personal timelines to "curating our world to show our own unique point of view to spitting out what is on our mind at any particular moment -- what is the purpose of the blog? And how does this all fit together from a documentation / community / life story perspective. Do people post with an expectation that others will read and converse? Are people just trying to make their own mark on the world?... or maybe a little bit of both? Is blogging a bit like graffiti tagging or is it more permanent like having your collection of personal papers in an archival repository? (And yes, I do want your honest feedback, as always. I don't need personal affirmation here.)


  1. Melissa, you bring up some good points and conversation starters, as usual. Of course, when I blog, I hope someone will find my writing to be of interest--hopefully even of some use. That isn't to say that I wouldn't appreciate being affirmed in the process!

    However, your closing paragraph brings something to mind about the permanence of making one's "own mark on the world." I would caution any blogger from assuming those writings would become like "personal papers in an archival repository." There never really is a "forever," no matter what medium a writer employs.

    Remember the blogging world's predecessor, GeoCities? There has recently been an archiving process in place for those discarded digital records. But what if there wasn't?

    While we may be "curating our world" via our blogs (quite a thought, actually), I like to juxtapose the seeming permanence of that with a phrase occasionally used in the computer world: "into the ether." As in, "poof."

    I blogged about that at

    While user-friendly blogging services may have given permission to writers to "have their ideas saved for posterity," we need to think twice about how permanent that "permanence" really is. Those words really won't be there forever.

  2. Great questions, Melissa.
    I blog for business, so my goals and intentions are a little different than a "personal" blogger. However, if I were to have a personal blog, my aim would be less about making a mark than making a difference - changing people's perspectives.
    As a writer, I am inspired to put words down because there is the potential for connection. That connection doesn't necessarily need to be validating; it just needs to be there. It's nice if the connection is with others who are on a journey similar to mine, but it's also okay if it's with people who disagree with what I'm saying. More than anything, I'm interested in learning and growing - sometimes the best way to do that is through conflict.

    I'll have to think more on this. Such an interesting thing to ask from a non-marketing perspective.