The Washington Post is asking why people blog. It's an interesting enough article, wondering whether blogging as an activity has peaked and among whom.
Here's what I sent them:
Blogging seems to be the natural successor to the yahoogroups and email lists I was on a few years ago. When blogs came along, several of the most interesting writers to SheepThrills (a list for spinners and knitters) more or less with drew their energies from the group. Whether this made a bigger ecological niche for yammerers and outright jerks or whether it was simply a time that more mouth with less brain began signing up to lists, the lists I had been devoted to, derived support from, learned neat stuff on and participated in gossip (the friendly kind) with lost their savor. Bloglines made it much easier to keep up with the people I liked once I didn't have to click on a long list of links to see who had updated.
That's more about why I read blogs than why I write one, but the two are connected. You can participate in the discussions that break out on 'comments' pages without a blog of your own, but you need your own page to get support and insightful comments for your projects, to show pictures of projects, parties, patterns, piles of booty from fiber shows (and historic snowfalls, good sunsets, cats, links to the Washington Post, recipes, charity projects like Dulaan). Having my own blog encourages me to pay attention to the projects I actually finish; I think many crafters lose sight of what they really have done, and see mostly what they wish they had finished or that they had never started. I also know, from the friendly notes I get in 'comments' or as email, and above all from the rare face-to-face meetings with other bloggers and readers, that people are out there cheering for me. The details of knitting and spinning and dyeing are esoteric enough that it really matters to get support and enthusiasm from one's peers (and superiors). Watching a new project sweep through the blog community (The Birch Shawl, the Jaywalker Socks) would amuse an epidemiologist; getting to see them expressed in Claudia's orange, or Theresa's blue, gives me a fresh look at the possibilities.
I wish more of my non-knitting friends blogged, and that my kids at college would write more in their LiveJournals (to which I am privileged to have access. God knows what they are doing on other lists). Blogging is less personal than a phone call, but it's more convenient for me and probably for them. If people I know well write even obliquely of trouble in their lives, I can call them or write them off-list. At the very least, checking someone's page can be more frequent and detailed than a Christmas card, even if it's only the same level of communication. My LiveJournal is more private than my Blogspot publication, and I say sourer, truer things on it. I don't give it out to very many people
Finally, I write a small blog about the New Hampshire State Conservation and Rescue Archaeology Program, a non-profit, quasi-autonomous governmental organization. In the summer, during the field school, I send some version of diary to various audiences by email. The SCRAP blog is potentially seen by strangers, so I restrain myself, trim the diary, and ask permission of the state archaeologist (who runs the program and the digs) before I post anything that might be more sensational than accurate. I hope it allows some of our occasional volunteers to keep in touch with the community, and that it allows some of the rest of the interested public to get a look at what we do.
Blogging is an expression of the Web as Back Fence rather than Infobahn; it enlarges my community.