To blog or not to blog

So this dates back to a night when we were driving back from PSU to New York (during the spring break trip). Vibhore and I got into a very interesting discussion (as usual!) on blogging. Apparently, Vibhore had this stereotyped image of a blog as a “personal” diary put out on the web. Not surprisingly then, he found the concept of blogging a bit uncomfortable. He wondered why would anyone want to put up their personal diary out on the web for everyone to read. Not only did he feel that doing this was “not quite right” for the person publishing it, but it was “not quite right” for the person reading it too!

When I realized that he had this stereotypical notion of a blog, I explained to him that a blog is a much more general notion. Different people have different concept of a blog, and for some it may very well be their personal diary. As far as I’m concerned, the right to publish some personal or non-personal is solely the authors’. Further, no one is “forcing” you to publish a blog or even read someone else’s. Of course, responsible bloggers realize that the information they put out is often public and they should be fully aware of its implications. If they publish any “private” information, again that is solely by choice since no one is forcing them to do so. Things get complicated, however, when I start divulging personal information about a friend on my blog, or vice-versa. What happens then?

Another interesting aspect of the discussion was the sudden surge in the number of blogs on the web. My argument was that more people are blogging these days because there is more commercial interest in blogs. True, a whole lot of blogs out there are completely free of charge. So where IS the commercial interest? But think of what happened with email. There are so many free email providers, yet there is a plethora of businesses woven around email. I feel that blogs are also going the same direction, except that the money involved in blogs is much, much more. This is partly because of the “information-intensive” and “public” nature of blogs, which makes them amenable to data mining in ways emails never were.

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