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Apr 27 2007

Tagged: Why I Blog

My blogging buddy The Rat "tagged" me to do an entry about "Why I Blog" over a week ago, and I'm just now getting around to it because, you know, I've got this Master's in Procrastination that has to be used sometime.

Part of the delay can be credited to my of initial belief that this would be a quick and easy post to write, but once I began thinking about it, I realized that I blog for lots of reasons…most of which have nothing to do with why I started blogging in the first place.

So, a little history. I created my first online journal back in the spring of 2002 when I was preparing to move to Sweden. I'd never been much of a diarist, but I was an even worse correspondent, so it was important for me to find an efficient way of staying connected to family and friends in the US.

A weblog seemed like the ideal answer if for no other reason than to avoid the hassle of maintaining an up-to-date mailing list. (Did I mention that I minored in Technical Task Avoidance?) An added bonus was that I would never need to worry about cluttering up someone's inbox with what were likely to be fairly mundane reports on my daily activities.

Like a lot of bloggers, I started with a free hosting service that provided few design options and very limited functionality. (Quite frankly, there weren't that many services to choose from back then.) But I was off and running, and it seemed as though that first blog was going to work out exactly as I intended. But a couple of problems became apparent very quickly. 

First I discovered that my freakishly private Swede did not really warm to the idea of having our lives splashed across the web for all the world to see. So I added some security that kept the content from being crawled by search engines and made sure the URL was obscure enough that folks were unlikely to find it by accident.

Then it turned out that many of the people I was keeping the journal for could not be bothered to visit the site on a regular basis, let alone remember the simple (and static) password needed to access the entries and photos. So I moved it to a paid provider with a very robust e-mail notification system that included the option of having the entire entry appear in the message (which means I ended up managing a mailing list of sorts anyway…aarrrgh!!!).

But the biggest issue by far was that I often found myself wanting to write about topics that had the potential to make certain members of my family uncomfortable. Most aspects of my relationship with Dr. Darling, for example, were off limits, as was anything to do with politics.

I solved this problem by starting a second "anonymous" blog in which the names were always changed to protect the guilty (and appease the aforementioned Swede), and where I could wax poetic about my gorgeous girlfriend or rail on the Bush Administration's corrupt inadequacies at will. Thus ShazzerSpeak was born, though it took two more years before I found a permanent hosting service for it. (Thank you Blog-City!)

I continue to journal the tame topics for my family (and they continue to read the entries by e-mail), but blogging via ShazzerSpeak has become a passionate hobby with multiple pay-offs. One of these has to do with community. Not only has blogging allowed me to connect with people all over the world who share my values, it's also put me in touch with folks who share my particular circumstances (ex-pat, ex-straight, etc.).

Blogging also helps keep my English vocabulary skills sharp. Granted, I do write exclusively in English for my job, but it's not the most creative kind of work and I am limited to producing relatively simple and straight-forward text since most of the target audience speaks/reads English as a second language. 

Then of course there's the whole ego thing. I've always gotten a kick out of seeing my words on the web, but that's nothing compared to having someone else find them, and then be moved enough to leave a comment or send an e-mail. It's the best kind of buzz…completely free with no restrictions on operating heavy machinery afterward!

So that's why I blog….for the communication, the community, the creative outlet, and the ego boost.

And I tag: Queer Eye on Korea, Eastwood Zhao, Ham & Cheese on Wry and Misfit Duck.  I predict they are all up to the challenge…or at least up to sending me hate mail for passing on the blogging equivalent of a chain letter.

Feed my ego!

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