Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Power of Blogs, Part I

I just learned that on Saturday, Chris earned the honor of becoming the first of our group of high school friends ("The Barnes and Noble Boys") to became a parent:

Of course, huge congratulations are in order for Chris and his wife Elisa, who just went through several days of ups-and-downs before giving birth to twin boys yesterday afternoon.

Besides pointing out the interesting fact that dad and mom bare an uncanny resemblance to one another, or the fact that they spent their wedding night on the first floor of my Market Street condo after taking in a futbol match in Foxboro, one of the neatest things about all this milestone is the way they put the news out to friends and family.

No strangers to the blogosphere, they decided to use the blog linked above as their *official* way of keeping friends and family in the loop.

Here are three neat advantages it holds over other forms of dissemination:

(1) It's horizontal. By blasting info out in a blog format, as opposed to personally reaching out to friends, family, co-workers, acquaintances, etc. on an individual, ad hoc basis, you can tell everyone at once. No one then has the ability to feel that they're out of the loop, always the last to know, or anything like it. The writer(s) don't have to worry about who they did or didn't leave out...the information is available to all who want or need it, and it's all there at once.

(2) It's non-intrusive. Most of the above paragraph would apply just as well for mass e-mails, with the one exception of the chance that someone might get left off the list. However, people tend to express a strong aversion to mass e-mails. Personally, I've never understood the aversion -- if I don't want to read a mass e-mail about how someone "found himself" while building orphanages in Tahiti (and often, I don't), it only takes me two seconds to delete it. Besides, if I'm really tired of hearing from my third cousin's college roommate's golf buddy, I can just ask him to take me off his list. Still, the beauty of the blog is that you have to come to it on your own...if you don't want to read it, don't like it, you can just stop visiting. And if you go away for a week or two, you can just jump right back in because there's a running log being kept.

(3) It provides a forum. Even if you apply Reason #1 to mass e-mails, and #2 is moot because you don't mind them, there's still one distinct advantage that a blog provides: the posts and the comments provide an instant forum for your *group*, be it friends and family, your neighbors, your co-workers, and your ideological soulmates or sparring partners (or in my case, all of the above). Somehow it's much easier for many people to check something passively (i.e. a blog) than it is to actively e-mail or never ceases to amaze me when I bump into someone or hear from someone I hadn't spoken with directly in many months and then hear in-depth commentary about the posts here. The forum effect also works well for friends-of-friends-type linkages, too: I could literally go for years without talking directly with Chris' parents, but his blog gives me a chance to virtually speak with them via comments to posts.

Two other points worth mentioning are: First, that the blog can be *secured* if female friend of mine is a blogger who started getting some bizarre comments from an unknown poster, and was able to solve the problem by putting password on the blog which she sent out only to the friends and family she wanted to have the access. The second point to add is that blogs are a good way around firewalls that block commercial e-mail systems from many workplaces but somehow (for the time being, at least, allow blogspot to be accessed).

I know I'll return this topic eventually because there's plenty more to say. For now, though, I'll let this stand as Part I of "The Power of Blogs."

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