30/07/2018

#Blaugust Reborn - Why Blog?

SWTOR has a pretty active and awesome community of fan content creators, but as a blogger, things can still feel a bit lonely sometimes since so much of people's focus when it comes to content creation has shifted to podcasting and streaming/video-making these days. Well, in the month of August at least, no blogger has to feel lonely because Belghast of the Tales of the Aggronaut blog is hosting Blaugust! This used to be an event about posting every single day throughout the month of August, which is why I avoided it in the past to be honest - my days of wanting to post something every single day are long past me.


However, this year he decided to give it a broader appeal. You can read all the details here, but as a short summary you could say that the event is about the following:

- Encouraging people to blog, whether they are new to it or "hardened veterans". Most of the people involved write about gaming, but it's not strictly limited to that.
- Exchange links to increase exposure of your own posts and to find new blogs to read yourself.
- Share tips and advice about the subject of blogging (the event is also supposed to incorporate what used to be called the Newbie Blogger Initiative in past years).
- Developer Appreciation Week! I quite liked that one last year.

I signed up as a contributor, which doesn't really mean anything special for the blog as I'm not going to try to ramp up my posting frequency or anything, and I don't necessarily expect to make use of all the different writing prompts - but I will be mentioning the event every now and then and am fully planning to check out other people's blogs throughout the month. My blogroll could certainly do with some fresh blood.

If you are thinking about starting a blog, or maybe reviving one that you started in the past and then abandoned, this is the perfect opportunity to do so! We sometimes like to joke that blogging is dead, but more seriously: I believe that despite of social and new media, blogging will still remain relevant for quite a while and I'll give you three reasons why:

Controlled Discourse

Recent social media kerfuffles have once again highlighted that for all the connections that social media provide, they can also be incredibly vicious and unpleasant. We tend to forget that every public Tweet we make is basically like shouting into a megaphone, because most of us only ever generate a very limited response. However, things could basically get picked up by the wrong crowd at any moment and then all hell breaks loose.

I actually didn't know whether to be amused or sad the other day when in a discussion about this issue, I saw several people say things along the lines of: "If you just want to shout into the void without anyone ever responding, get a blog!" I mean, yes, you can make a blog that doesn't allow comments, but I think for most of us having comments enabled is part of the appeal. We do want to hear responses to our ramblings.

Anyway, the nice thing about blogging is that you control the discourse. People starting to flood a post or the whole blog with unwanted comments? You can selectively limit them without breaking a stride when it comes to your own output. Also, personally I've found that even if you allow completely anonymous comments, it seems that the feeling of "being on your turf" somewhat discourages people from leaving outright nasty comments, at least compared to an open platform like Twitter or reddit. So again, to make a long story short: blogs are nice because they allow you to have public discussions with strangers but with a safety net. I wouldn't be surprised if people actually came to appreciate this more again with all the social media ugliness that we've been seeing recently.

Searchability

I get that not everyone is as interested in archiving and preserving their own words as I am (it's pretty conceited, isn't it), but a properly formatted blog is like a miniature library that makes the past both easier to remember and straightforward to navigate. Between an archive sorted by year and month, tags and the simple search function, I can find any old piece of writing that I want to revisit with ease. Likewise the few more useful posts that I've written are merely a Google search away from anyone else who might want to find them.

One of the big problems I have with audio and video is that it's a pain to find things again later on. Ever felt your heart sink when someone tells you to check out so-and-so talking about such-and-such and they link you to a one-hour video without a clue of where the actually relevant part begins and ends? Or maybe you vaguely recalled hearing an interview in which something was said that you'd like to revisit... but you have no idea how to find it again based on that fleeting bit of memory alone. I've even run into it myself when recording my Pugging with Shintar videos, when I suddenly find myself thinking: "Didn't I talk about this before?" but I have no way of verifying my suspicion other than re-watching all of my old videos to find where it might have come up (which I usually can't be bothered with).

Maybe this is something that technology will be able to solve with time, but I wouldn't hold my breath for it happening any time soon. For now, blogging is still the way to go when it comes to creating content that will survive the test of time.

Time-Sharing

I suspect that one of the reasons that blogging and I suppose reading in general is on a bit of a downturn is that we live in an age of multi-tasking, where people don't feel productive if they aren't doing at least two things at the same time, and reading is really limited in that regard. You might be able to whip out a book while training on your exercise bike or something, but generally speaking, if you want to read something, you have to focus on it. This is a major advantage of podcasts and streamers, that you can listen to them on your way to work or watch a video while knitting a scarf.

However, one of the big trade-offs that comes with this is that both watching and listening take far, far longer to impart the same information than the written word. I reckon that most blog posts I read throughout the week don't take more than two to five minutes to read, with many taking even less, while most podcasts and videos that pop up on my feed tend to range from fifteen minutes to an hour. This is the main reason I'm really bummed that so many of SWTOR's content creators are focused on video these days - because while I'd be happy to say, read three blog posts about a new stronghold, I don't really want to watch three twenty-minute videos about said stronghold, even if they are all nicely done. Since each individual's content demands more time, I'm actually following much fewer of them than I follow bloggers, because there are only so many hours in my day - which is a shame in a way.

Long story short: reading and writing allow you to share information much faster and with more people, with less time commitment required on the end of the consumer.

Did I convince you to try blogging yet? Well, even if not it might still be worth your time to check out the list of Blaugust blogs and read about other people's adventures in gaming at least (not necessarily in SWTOR). I promise it will take no time at all!

7 comments :

  1. I agree with everything you said, specially the part about archiving and preserving your own words.

    Some time ago I looked my old posts about Final Fantasy XIV 1.0 and not only I found I don't have any good screenshots of that era left (which is a shame for a lot of reasons) but I also was very vague about what the story was about since I didn't want to spoil it. So now I don't remember what the story was about anymore back then or why I liked it so much! And no, watching a series of videos about the story of FFXIV 1.0 isn't exactly enticing right now...

    As for the Time-Sharing point there is another one I'd add. With reading I find it a lot easier to take a break in the middle (for whatever reason) and come back to resume it. I often do that when reading... well, anything, but with videos, that is a lot harder, specially if it is a long video or if it is from something you are trying to learn.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, it's surprising how much you forget! The years in which I didn't blog or keep a diary in any way, shape or form feel oddly blurry to me now as I know there's so much that must have happened during that time that I've completely forgotten.

      Interesting note about taking breaks; I actually don't have that much of an issue with pausing podcasts and videos and coming back to them later, but now that you say it I guess it is a bit harder.

      Delete
  2. I hadn't posted for a year until Blaugust and you've made me think maybe I should! Perhaps even as a private journal of my thoughts it nothing else.

    Good point about blogging being more civil than Twitter. I think one reason is that Twitter lends itself to piling on, as one angry person cascades into a mob. Whereas if one person gets mad at you in a blog comment, hardly anyone else will even know.

    Plus you can control who can comment if you want to.

    That said, I've not personally had any probs on Twitter and I suppose it all depends what you post about as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't really had any issues with Twitter either, but I do feel that people are more confrontational there, probably also because the format makes it harder to have a nuanced argument as you tend to cut down your word count to the absolute minimum to be able to fit things into a single Tweet.

      As an aside, it's also a pain for archiving. It actually has a very powerful search function if you know what you're looking for, but casual browsing of older conversations? Yeah... no. Which is why I'm always a bit sad when someone responds to a blog post on Twitter, because while I appreciate their thoughts I know that they'll basically disappear into the aether soon after.

      Delete
  3. I'd love to do that --and yes, the old format of blogging every day would have reduced me to a "I'm here" post about half of the time-- but I don't know what my time commitments are for the month of August. The traveling is behind me (except getting the oldest mini-Red back to university), but I'm pretty sure I'm going to get stuck doing more unintended renovations soon.

    Best of luck! I know Blaugust is in good hands if you're involved!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, the lowest "reward level" for existing bloggers is the Bronze Award for posting five times over the course of the month. If you think you can manage that it's not too late to sign up! :]

      Delete
    2. Oh, I can do that, but I'm not going to sign up just for that. If I do something like Blaugust, I'm going to be posting a LOT more than 5 times.

      Delete

Share your opinion! Everyone is welcome, as long as things stay polite. No sign-in required. I also read comments on older posts, so don't be shy. :)