Saturday, August 26, 2006

Why Blog? Part 2 of 2

In Part 1 of Why Blog?, I took a general look at some of the factors and motivations that might be involved in blogging, or in my case, lack of blogging.

Now in Part 2, I will take a closer look at a few of my favorite blogs and bloggers, attempting primarily to discern in some way their purpose and style:

Five Cent Stand - I can't say enough good things about Seth and his writing. He is extremely intelligent and educated, and very well-rounded in arts and humanities. It appears to me that his blog is the "personal thoughts" or "further discussion" portion of Five Cent Stand, his music/ministry endeavor. In all honesty, his writing is entertaining and thought-provoking enough to stand on its own (meaning, in my opinion he could be an author for a living, in addition to his work as a musician and/or minister of the Gospel).

(Actually, now that I think about it, that last bit is true of the other four bloggers I'm writing about below also -- they could all write professionally in addition to their chosen professions or vocations. So let’s just say “that goes without saying” at this point, in regards to every one I’m reviewing. Sorry to write an entire paragraph in parentheses -- is that considered an acceptable practice?)

Anyway, back to Seth... so my guess is that because he is well-read and well-rounded, and has an audience which is a combination of personal friends and fans of Five Cent Stand, then he writes in a manner that speaks to that audience. He never seems to be lacking in creative inspiration, and he is well-versed in many areas, so I'm going to say that in his case, it seems like writing comes naturally and flows out effortlessly, constrained only by the fact that he actually has a life and can't spend all his waking hours at the computer.

I'll summarize this blog as being a variety of stories and writings by an artistic genius who has extra creative energy to expend, who enjoys the community, encouragement, and spiritual synergy that blog interaction involves.

The Secret Life of Kat - Kat is also very well-educated and well-rounded, but writes from the perspective of somebody who holds (in my humble opinion) The Most Important Job in The World. I'm referring, of course, to being a Mommy (not to redesigning Shaun Groves' website). She chronicles daily life as a Christ-follower and a Mom, and has lots of additional goodies like music reviews/recommendations and great computer technical tips. It seems to me that Kat started out just writing her thoughts in a daily-journal style, not even sure if she'd even have an audience of more than a few people. Over time, she seems to have gotten more comfortable with the fact that she does indeed have a larger audience, but has managed to retain the candor that is the hallmark of her writing style. It's thought-provoking, touching, and heartfelt.

I'll summarize this blog as being a candid daily journal of life as a Christian parent, with a lot of extra tips and information, as the writer explores other areas that interest her.

The Cachinnator - I'm now up to my third blogger review, and I'm noticing a pattern already. I was going to say "and speaking of very well-educated and well-rounded individuals...", and realized that this is true of all my favorite bloggers. I’m not exactly sure what that means -- should I broaden my horizons and read BL0gZ ritt3n by D00dZ who Rite m0rE liKe ThiS?

Anyway -- the Cachinnator is yet another fine example of a multi-faceted, well-rounded, and highly educated character who can seemingly blog at will on a fascinating variety of subjects. Overall, he majors in humor, but clearly has an astonishing grasp on a wide array of subjects that are amazing, amusing, entertaining, and thought-provoking. It seems to me that his target audience is a wide variety of acquaintances that he has made through various artistic, academic, charitable, and ministry endeavors – clearly, he has led a very exciting and interesting life, and has traveled a lot. A lot of his blogging is written in the style of an online version of a standup comedian, who enjoys interacting with his audience. He deals with some very serious subjects as well, but clearly is very optimistic, affable, and fun-natured – someone who is able to lift spirits and bring encouragement to his readers.

I'll summarize this blog as being the exploration of a bold array of subjects, touching on a wide variety of interests, all while having a lot of fun by interacting with the blog audience in the style of dialogue that one might hear from a standup comedian at a club (though unlike a comedian at a club, the outcome of the dialogue is often quite inspirational).

Letters from Kamp Krusty - Brant Hansen is apparently a DJ at a radio station in South Florida or something. I mean, he really is, I’m not trying to sound like I doubt that or anything. But I don’t live anywhere near South Florida and have not heard him on the air there, so I honestly don't know much about what he does, or if he's really a super-famous local celebrity or something. (Although I swear a couple of months ago I was driving around here in the Nashville area and heard him on my local WAY-FM station, which leads me to believe that either they have a guest-DJ exchange program, or they let the broadcast signal from one area get sent to another at certain times, or something. Hopefully I’m allowed to say that, and not giving away some dark trade secret or something).

Anyway, back to my blog analysis -- I love Brant's blog. It's a little hard to classify it, though. He's an amazing writer. His style is quite unique. He's a bit sarcastic, and very humorous, but not in a traditional sort of way. He's self-deprecating, but in a light-hearted and fun way. There's a tremendous amount of truth and wisdom in what he writes, but he communicates in an unusual way.

I guess you just have to read it for yourself to see what I mean. I highly recommend perusing the archives from his previous blog host (Xanga) as well -- there are a lot of gems there.

I get the impression (from some recent comments he made on his blog) that until recently, Brant didn't think he had much of an audience reading his entries. So I’m not sure who his perceived audience was during all the time he’s been writing – I’d assume he figured it was just a few of his personal friends and maybe some radio fans. But I think he must have utilized one of those web traffic analyzers and discovered that he actually has a pretty good-sized audience. I’m not sure that the “perceived audience” in Brant’s case really affects his writing much, anyway. He writes like a daily columnist for a small-town newspaper, and looking back through his archives, he has always written consistently with that same style.

I think I'll summarize this blog as being in the style of a daily column, with a slightly sarcastic and offbeat sense of humor, dispensing wisdom and goodness without being schlocky or sentimental.

SHLOG - To me, Shaun Groves is the mac daddy of bloggers. Seriously. The quality of his work in this medium is second to none. He knows how to have a lot of fun with it, and keep it in perspective, but he also excels at using the available resources it provides to truly connect with his audience in a way that is, quite frankly, cutting edge for the industry he's in. He's open and honest about his own life, talks with complete transparency about the realities of the business/vocation he is part of (Christian music and ministry), is tremendously gifted as a writer, and is not afraid to ask hard questions, challenge stubborn orthodoxy, and encourage wrestling with hard issues.

One would naturally assume that his audience is expected mostly to be people who know of him primarily as a Christian musician, and for a good many people that may be true. But I know of many Shlog readers for whom this is not the case – including myself.

In terms of his target audience, Shaun probably has an advantage over many bloggers. I say this because I believe his base audience is probably quite large, and as a result of the natural synergy of the internet (meaning, lots of people link to him and his audience continues to grow) he can make entries that encourage participation and thought, he can get a good feel for his audience’s reaction to ideas he has (instead of “flying blind” or guessing what his audience wants), and he can cover a wide variety of subjects and always be speaking directly to somebody in his audience.

One final and interesting thing about Shlog – all of the other bloggers I reviewed above are in some way connected to Shaun, either through a direct personal relationship, or as fellow Shlog readers and commenters (or both). I think this speaks volumes, both about the type of audience that Shaun attracts, as well as the high quality of his work, which can keep so many people from so many different backgrounds interested and participating in an online community.

I’ll summarize by saying that Shlog is a strongly ministry-oriented blog, and a very well-balanced look at a wide variety of subjects and ideas, with uncommon transparency and bold, unflinching honesty that both challenges and entertains the audience.

So there you have them. My long-awaited reviews of a few of my favorite blogs. I hope that if you read any of these blogs regularly, or if you are the writer of any of these blogs, that you’ll let me know what you think of these. I may be completely wrong in my impressions and opinions, or maybe I’ve even made you view these blogs from a slightly different perspective.

Remember, my goal here was to compare and contrast different styles of blogging, different ways of interacting with the blog audience, and different attitudes and approaches to what the perceived purpose and use for blogging is. Did I succeed in any way? Do I have a better idea of how to find my own blogging voice, and how to approach my audience, real or perceived, when I sit down to type out my thoughts from now on? I guess time will tell...

7 comments:

  1. these are the exact blogs i visit every day. i just wish you would blog more, because you are also quite the talented blogger. but, your comments are entertaining in and of themselves. you are actually one of the few people who can observe other people and be truly interested in them.

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  2. I would like to take this opportunity to thank thee for thine glowing reveiw. I am flattered and touched by your encouragement. It seems you have that gift. Encouragement, when done in the Spirit, always comes at the right time.

    I would agree, wholeheartedly about what you said about everyone here. I think you should have added a paragraph or two praising my humility. But other than that, you were spot on.

    I also agree with operamama. : )

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  3. Great stuff, man! Thanks for all the nice things you said about all of us. Of course you know, we all think you're a fantastic writer yourself. You should definitely be blogging more often. I love your point of view on things. You bring a cool and unique perspective to things. Like this post for example: who else would put something this cool together? Awesome work.

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  4. C-Hammer,
    I'm honestly really honored to be on this list. These are some of my favorite blogs as well.

    I'm not so sure I agree with everyone else though. I used to think that I wanted you to blog more, but now that I think about it, I'm nervous that you wouldn't have as much time to comment and I SO value the wisdom and sincerity of your comments - not just on my blog but on all the blogs you frequent. You have a lot of wisdom and an ability to communicate it in a way that balances heated discussions and brings depth to frivolous ones.

    So, keep blogging, but please keep commenting too!

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  5. I agree about Shlog. I started blogging in large part because of Shaun's blog, and most of the blogs I read now I found through his.

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  6. Thanks to all of your for your comments and encouragement.

    I do think this has made me look at blogging a little differently, and I do think it's something that I'll do, probably not daily, but hopefully at least weekly or whenever random inspiration hits.

    I seem to be dealing okay with letting the perfectionist tendencies go. :-)

    And as far as my commenting on other blogs -- I think I'll probably continue to do that as much as I have in the past, since I enjoy reading blogs so much (those I've examined here and several not listed here), and like many of you, enjoy the interaction and conversation that they start.

    Honestly, for me personally, blogging has been way more than an exercise in reading and writing. I really have benefitted greatly in my personal life. I really have taken stock of what I believe, how I spend my time, and many other areas in which I have been challenged, due to the efforts of my favorite bloggers.

    It provides a great meeting place for hearts and minds, and is so much more fruitful and useful than sitting around watching TV, playing video games, randomly browsing the web, or whatever other time-killing activities I would probably be engaged in during breaks if I wasn't doing this.

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