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September 25, 2004

We Do This Because We Do This

I haven't done it yet, but I'm going to click on each of the links in the left-hand column of the HawaiiStories mainpage, just to see who's still doing this.

Okay, not JUST to see who's still doing this. I'm doing it, too, because I'm trying to figure out WHY we do this.

I'm pretty much 100% sure this issue has been brought up a million times in various publications or at various JournalCons, but what these people said is not what I wanna know. I wanna know why YOU do it, or why YOU've stopped.

I know exactly why I started my online journal. It was a sorta threefold motivation: First, I was working through a difficult period in my life and liked the idea of sending my thoughts out there into the cyberether, like rolled-up messages in corked bottles flung from the shore of a lonely beach.

Second, I'd been reading a lot of these for years and thought it was a community I wanted to belong to (tangentially related: I could see Ryan's writing had gotten better than mine, and that irked me!).

Finally, like the graffiti artist who puts up the gigantic spray-painted image of his own pseudonym, there was a certain amount of ego involved. I still go back to some of my archived entries, pleased with what I have created, happy with certain phrases or lines of reason.

I see that a lot of those online journals I've read faithfully for years have become merely monuments to what they once were--they exist because they've existed, not because they serve whatever purpose their initiation originally served. Are there stages of online journaling, just as there are stages of grieving or stages in the cycle of domestic abuse? Is HawaiiStories in its own final stages, having served its own purpose, and is it now fading into the sunset in order to make room for the next wave of Internet fads? Perhaps so, and perhaps it's just meant to be. You know, the circle of life and all that.

What's up with you, and with your online journal? Why did you get it going, and most importantly to me, why are you doing it or not doing it today?

Posted by scrivener at September 25, 2004 10:14 PM


Posted by Jenn on September 25, 2004 10:42 PM:

I can always count on Mitchell to come up with the good questions.

Why did I start my online journal? Partly to jump on the bandwagon (belatedly) and partly due to envy. I have lots of opinions but no one to listen to them, so I wanted a place to spew my sarcasm, criticism, and general geekiness. Occasionally I impress myself with some entries, be it the sarcasm, subject, or clarity of my writing, and a side benefit is that it helps to keep my composition chops in shape.

I am still journaling to keep myself sane. The venting/self-expression factor prevents my pressure-cooker from exploding. Especially nowadays, not having roommates can get a bit frustrating when interesting things happen but no one is around to share with. Sounds selfish, doesn't it?

I don't journal for my ego. Hardly any of my RL friends know about my blog. Not many of my friends are OL readers so I limit distributing my blog to the few friends who have their own journals. As a bonus, it's a nice way to keep up with the happenings in those friends' lives. Readership volume, comments and counters are not important to me.

Posted by helen on September 26, 2004 6:25 PM:

While I have a web page for my model rockety stuff, I never did an on-line journal of my life, other than using HawaiiStories.com and more recently HawaiiThreads.com as far as posting bits of trivia from time to time.

I know it's been awhile since I have updated my web page.

Posted by RON on September 27, 2004 1:09 AM:

"...why are you doing it or not doing it today?"

The Daily KOs, http://www.dailykos.com/
has some commentary on the present state of blogs. Scroll down to the Mon Sep 27th post under the title of: Billmon: Blogging sells out

Posted by Ryan on September 27, 2004 10:42 AM:

Ron, thanks to permalinks, you can link directly to the post in question.

Suffice it to say, I think Mitchell and Jenn (and I) are talking about a different animal entirely: personal journals. Strange creatures that existed long before the awful word "blog" was ever coined, and sites that will probably never have a "revenue stream" or, really, anything to "sell out" for.

I doubt weblogs (in the traditional, link-farm and commentary sense) will really change any paradigms of media or journalism, as the most successful ones will be indistinguishable from commercial media. Meanwhile, the more personal, individual ones will eventually be indistinguishable from that ancient of animals, the personal "web page."

To answer Mitchell's question... well, I haven't given up yet! An entry a month is still an entry. Having done this escribitionist thing for seven years (six at my current site), there are definitely common stages. The good news is, they aren't neccessarily a march toward inevitable death. The bad news is, that rush of daily writing that comes with the first heady months of being online is tough to sustain.

Not that it's impossible. Veteran Doug Franklin hasn't missed a day, I don't think, since March 1996.

Posted by albert on September 27, 2004 2:06 PM:

I'm only a couple of weeks away from the seventh anniversary of starting The Panther's Tale (as Ryan said, long before that awful word "blog" was invented).

I started the Tales because I was making a major shift in my lifestyle and thought it would be interesting to document that shift.

Because of the Tales I've met a lot of people, both in person and online, I'd probably not have met otherwise. That's certainly the main benefit but there is a definite value in keeping a diary (not necessarily in public) ... being able to look back and see what you were doing and thinking at some date in the past.

I suppose it does become something of an addiction and like most who indulge, I now and then have thought of ending it. (I've refrained from the annoying nonsense of making a grand public statement about "that's it folks!" and then starting again a week later.)

There aren't many I admire and regularly read, but I do much enjoy my favorites and would be sorry to see any of them cease writing.

On the other hand, I can't nag anyone who doesn't write more frequently because sometimes, as I say on the Tales page today, life is just too dull and routine, not worth writing about.

Posted by Mitchell on September 27, 2004 8:00 PM:

But Albert. Speaking as an addicted reader of The Tales, people who read your online journal want even to hear just that: that today was routine, just like any other day, and that you have no new thoughts that you haven't uttered in that space a hundred other times.

Which is why I ask the original question. I humbly admit that when I've not posted for longer periods of time, people have emailed me to see what's up. When I started my online journal, it was totally for me, and I generally resist addressing any kind of "you" in my entries (though I have forgotten a few times) and I definitely avoid the Direct Address (as in, "Albert, here's a message just for you because I know you're reading this"). I don't know if I want my purpose to be related to my readership.

On the other hand, that's not such a bad thing, I guess. If it means I get a daily dose of Albert's (or Ryan's, or Jenn's, or Donna's, or ...) thoughts and doings, I'm totally happy if I'm one of the reasons Albert or Ryan or Jenn or Donna does an update. I just don't know if that's why _I_ want to be doing it.

I read Albert's journal for a ton of reasons--mostly vicarious--and I read Ryan's for different reasons (writing), and Jenn's and Donna's for different reasons altogether (intellectual lust among them, I admit), but should my reasons influence their output? Should their reasons for reading mine (and I know I'm presuming, but for the sake of a parallele paragraph, I'll presume anything, I tellya!) influence what, how, when, and why I write?

Yeah. I know there are no "shoulds," except what I decide for myself. But I don't know what I'm deciding for myself, so I ask you.

Posted by Mitchell on September 27, 2004 8:53 PM:

By the way, I guess this is a good time to bring up Xanga and Livejournal, which both set themselves up as "communities." I have absolutely NO PROBLEM with these services--in fact, I love them. I just wouldn't like, for my own journal, to become something of a comment-whore, which is what a lot of people I correspond with admit they've become. In communities like that, I think one continues to write because that's what defines membership in the community, and that's a great thing. It's just not for me, I guess.

Posted by Jenn on September 27, 2004 11:15 PM:

I forgot to add that I haven't disappeared! My writings have recently been moved to a new location.

I agree with Mitchell - LiveJournal, as a community, is a great thing. However, I believe it's no longer a place for me, especially after I noticed that the majority of LJers on my friends list were teenage slash fiction writers. When did that happen??

Posted by Jenn on September 28, 2004 7:22 AM:

Okay, okay, so I care a teensy bit about readership. After all, I did post a link to my site.

Posted by RON on September 28, 2004 8:36 AM:

"What's up with you, and with your online journal? Why did you get it going..."

Mr. Scrivener:

In the course of human events...oh well...where am I now... Let me try that again. In the course of checking out Doug Franklin's site (mentioned by Ryan), I somehow ended up at the Diary History Project http://www.diaryhistoryproject.com/index.html which has a lot of relevancy to the question above. A whole slew of responses to your question...in fact, more like a public record of affidavits contributed by folks, who must have existed just one step out of the bulletin board era...pioneers they must have been in online diary journalism...at kbs...no graphics...and so on.

Posted by Ryan on September 28, 2004 4:23 PM:

The journalist in me tried for a long time to write in a vacuum, from the perspective of a diarist alone in his mind, with no readers. Eventually, though, I came to accept that by publishing online, the audience was a factor in what I was doing. I don't get in the habit of "shoutouts" or get into too many rounds of "receiprocative commenting," but now when it feels right to address the reader somehow or "go meta" - that is, write about writing, or the site itself - I don't feel bad about it anymore.

And Ron, the Diary History Project is great. I still owe them my contribution (I'd be somewhere between Jen Wade and Jackie Rosenfeld). Every time someone gets all misty-eyed about the early days of blogging (ugh), I send them there to remind them that personal publishing on the web has been around about as long as the web itself.

Posted by A'ilina on September 28, 2004 9:39 PM:

Writing is my default form of expression. Journaling is my mode. Blogging was something of a novelty when I first began, because of the publicity. Now, it's just part of life--routine and necessary for managing stress.

Posted by Linkmeister on October 5, 2004 10:31 PM:

I just post items that I find interesting, usually with a snarky remark of some sort. I've been doing it nearly every day for nearly three years, and I do find that I don't like missing a day.

Posted by Donna on October 10, 2004 8:13 PM:

Of course, I'm late as usual. But I subscribe to the "better late than never" philosophy anyway.

I started my journal back in 2000, before blogging became a big deal. It was all about "journalling" in the early days.

My reason for starting the site was mainly to give myself a venue to exercise my writing interest and to chronicle my mundane life for posterity. (Not that anyone besides myself would really be interested in what I was doing back in October 2000... but that's beside the point.)

The site has morphed into a sorely disorganized mess over the years, but I continue to toss entries upon the heap in hopes of someday going through it and actually creating some semblance of a good navigational system.

Now, I do it because I find it truly therapeutic to regurgitate emotions and events in words -- despite how poorly crafted they may be. I often start an entry with the intention of throwing myself an all-out pity party, but by the end of the entry I am thanking God for all the blessings in my life. Somehow, the mere exercise of writing helps me to see things in a different light.

Having someplace to post my photographs is also quite nice, because my "decent" shots often get lost in the thousands of not-so-decent JPG's on my hard drive and I quickly forget about them.

I'm sure I'll be one of those die-hards that will continue to update my blog even when blogging ceases to be the cool thing to do.

Posted by Lynn on October 14, 2004 3:17 PM:

Good question!For me it has been a source of ventilating and getting things off my chest and brains!I've been unable to post about a month and to begin again is somewhat harder than the first time...don't know where to start.Anyways, Hawaii Stories has given me a place where I can say what I want without fearing anyone or organization regarding my topics.I've read some of the other Blogs and have enjoyed them.Some of the Bloggers have given me valuable information as well as history on the topic of BLOGS.i CAN'T WAIT TILL THE NEXT GET TOGETHER so that I can meet fellow occupants of Hawaii Stories!

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