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Friday, March 02, 2007

Musings #6: Around the world of blogging

Come on Argentina! Come on Brazil...

Many of you may have noticed I've added a fun little locator to the sidebar of my blog that tracks where readers are from. It is fun. And it is addictive.

It is exciting to come in and see that someone has discovered and read your blog from Paris, France or Shenzhen, China. I have no idea how my banter translates into French or Mandarin or Cantonese, but, "Welcome to my site!" all the same. I've now had site visits from every continent save South America. Hence the eagerness.

Each of those dots is a story. What was that person searching for when they hit my site? Dosas? Auto-rickshaws? Did someone refer them? Are they planning a trip? Were they just bored? I've no idea, but I'd love to know. I think it is the idea that gets me: in a tiny way, seeing this massive global network move, all the people and connections sprouting and spreading. Did they enjoy my tales? Did they take them and re-tell them? It is fascinating to wonder of the wanders of others. And I, in my own wanders have stumbled on sites I have intimately enjoyed, blogs I now read with zeal.

I like blogs, I've discovered. I never really had the time before to explore the new media. I enjoy it. I've never been one much for online forums and set communities around a rigid concept - they require too much time to maintain and devolve too quickly into banality. Forums are like moving to a small town: everyone already knows each other, there are established rules and the conversation is always the same. I like the softer, flexible networks of the blogosphere and social networking sites. It is one connection at a time and your network grows a piece here, an hour spent there and each connection can be for widely different reasons. I am not joining an existing community, I am finding my own. I am not by any means alone of course. This isn't profound, just some musings. It is immediately obvious from the immense popularity of modern social networking concepts that hundreds of millions similarly agree with the preference.

I think I like it because you get to know someone through their stories, their passions, their pictures and their struggles. They can show their lens on the world, a little one, a broad one or a deep one. And blogs in particular are a modern re-growth of the most ancient art of story-telling. I tend to believe the art had been waning over the recent decades as we trapped ourselves into a rigid system where only stories that could be sold would be told. But no longer. Without the money backing the system, the tale and the teller are back in prominence. I've seen much dismissal and jaded critique of the growth of the blogoshere and social networking. Junk they say, 10 million authors and nothing to say. Blah! What an utter lack of imagination. What is missed in those dismissals is the freedom and change in paradigm the ease of publishing, sharing and finding stories means. How people feel and reach out now that they can is proof enough of its value. Popularity and readership is again about connections, community, sharing and the stories. Are the blogs I read ever going to make the best seller lists? Don't know and don't care. They touch me and they mean something to the writers. Isn't that enough?

To share, here are some of the sites I am currently reading:
Trek Feet
The diary of an International Super Hero
The Eyes Have It
Itchy Feet
Painted Stork India Travel Blog

May our connections dots grow to fill the world. Heck, maybe they can even change it. Naive? Perhaps. But then again, I'll never apologize for not being jaded.

Until then, venido en Chile y Perú!

P.S. if you want a little addictive visitor widget of your own, click on the image and the host site will walk you through instructions.

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