The Soapbox Papers

The Soapbox Papers is my two-cents worth.

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Location: Beloit, Wisconsin, United States

I am a cross between Tinkerbell and Calamity Jane.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

About Blogs and Bloggers

I was talking to a social worker today and the subject turned to blogs. My friendly social worker acquaintance mentioned she was going to a meeting this afternoon that would be all about blogs -- and did I ever read any?

I told Karen that yes, I do read blogs - a lot of them! - and that I have one of my own. I told her I am not always as good about writing mine as reading others, but that it was a great way to learn and to communicate with Out There. I asked Karen what she thought of blogs in general. She told me that what concerned her was this huge bunch of unsubstantiated information floating around the internet.

Those are opinions, I told Karen. Most blogs, I told her, reference their sources of information, and if a reader is interested or concerned, that reader can generally click on a link that will take them to the source. I told her how easily one can get lost going from source to source and link to link - but the experience is wonderful in and of itself. It's not unlike reading the dictionary or a brand new encyclopedia or making a new friend. And sometimes you do make new friends.

I told her it is a great way to learn about just about anything, and the pros and cons of any situation. Most blogs have a place where readers can leave comments, and whether one chooses to leave a comment or not, reading through those comments is just as informative as reading the initial blog entry. While it is true one has to form opinions along the way, it is nothing but enriching to read what others think and feel (and why) and constantly question the validity of those opinions we do hold dear.

I have another friend who refuses to read blogs. I mentioned him and a mutual organization a few weeks back in this blog, and e-mailed the link to him so he could read it. (He did read the link.) He told me he didn't read blogs as a rule because he felt they were personalized journals not unlike diaries, and he felt he didn't want to know the secrets and other diary stuff he would find there. I know there are some blogs that are just that. When I do my random wanderings (I use the 'next blog' feature at the top right of the page here on blogger.com) I click past those -- but I stop and read blogs from all over the world that express opinions on the news or some invention or politics or some other issue that is not dealing with a personal fight with parents, what happened on a date last night, or what the new baby had for breakfast.

Among the more interesting blogs I have stumbled upon is a message place where a teacher writes notes for her students - about homework, class policy, hints and such; a blog written by a young Sunni in Iraq who was jailed on the day he went to sign up for college (this blog was linked by news sources, I later found out) and the comments added to his entries were as interesting to read as his blog entries themselves. I found a psychiatrist who discusses political matters, a handyman/construction worker who discusses advertising; I read of people who travel and their impressions of the places they go. I read blogs written by everyday people in countries other than my own, and I learn about those people and how they see everyday people in my country.

I have a son who blogs constantly, diversely and well. I have a brother who is cruising around reading blogs, gathering information for when he gets down to the business of writing his own. I have another son and daughter who read blogs - mine, their brother's and those of who-knows-how-many other people. I feel good about this - that when any of them write, they will have well rounded opinions, they will have explored whatever subject strikes their individual fancies, and they will be adding something positive to this exploding internet.

That we can write about anything in a blog is mind boggling. No censors - at least, not obvious censors. And yet - as in me choosing not to read diary blogs - we are all censors. We develop favorites, yet we are never satisfied with the same old circle of people. We explore and we read and we learn.

And we blog.

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