I was thinking about this whole blogging experiment this morning, and I realized that it is just that: an experiment. It’s millions of people sharing personal information on the web for reasons unknown.
And that’s kind of strange. And a little bit counterintuitive for most.
Think of any action and the motivation that is the cause. For example, if you are writing a paper for college, you’re doing so because you want to get a good grade. And you’re hoping for a good grade because you want to graduate, you want personal satisfaction, etc.
Another example is going to work and doing your job. You’re there because you want to make money to support yourself (and perhaps your family) and you derive some feelings of value by being there.
In both cases, it is easy to see why you’re doing what you’re doing. There is a clear and multifaceted array of motivation for your subsequent actions. It makes sense.
So why do people blog?
Only a small percentage of people are actually making money from their blogs, and many people actually pay for the privilege to express their opinions online with no desire to profit from them. So money is not the biggest motivating force in blogging, that is clear.
Could this be a shift to a truly egalitarian technical community?
Think about linking. On every blog (I’ve never seen an exception), there are links to other blogs. Bloggers obviously think that their own writing is important enough to put out there for millions of potential visitors, and hope people read and enjoy their posts. So it’s safe to say that bloggers want people to come to their site. They spend tremendous amounts of time and energy creating content to lure visitors.
And then they give free plugs to other sites.
Bloggers give their readers every opportunity to leave their site to go somewhere else. In the capitalist context, think of this example:
Bud Light beer spends millions of dollars trying to get customers to drink their beer. They put all their energy into putting out a great product. They open up a bar that is called the “Bud Light Bar”. Everything is Bud Light. The colors are Bud Light colors.
But they also offer Coors Light, Michelob Light, Heineken, etc. on draft.
I know this isn’t a perfect analogy. It’s early, and I haven’t had any coffee yet. But I hope it illustrates a point: blogging just doesn’t make sense in terms of economic motivation. But nothing matters less than that. People are blogging because they want to. Because they enjoy it. Because it’s fun.
Over at BlogString.com, I am going to come up with a survey to get a feel for what reason people give for blogging. There are many surveys out there that look at numbers of blogs, how many blogs are inactive, spam, etc. I’d really love to see the human side, and try to get a better understanding of why we do what I’m doing right now.