Why I blog*
I’ve been asked to write a short general piece about blogging, why, how and so on. Draft is over the fold. Comments welcome.
I wanted to blog even before blogs existed. Iâ€™ve always wanted to comment on all sorts of topics, without the constraints and delays of an academic journal article or newspaper opinion piece, though I also find plenty of value in writing these.
As soon as I built my first website, in the mid-1990s, I tried a variety of methods to allow for regular updating and comments, but they were too cumbersome to be of any practical use. From about 2000 onwards I began running across sites using early versions of blogging software, but I didnâ€™t realise what they were until later. I began running across references to blogs in 2002 and started my own in June of that year. At the beginning of 2004, I joined the group blog, Crooked Timber, and I now post to both, though my blog contains more items of purely local interest.
At one time I followed visitor numbers rather obsessively, checking visitor numbers every day and sometime more often than that. These days, I rarely worry about this. The software provided by host says the blog gets about 3500 sessions per day, and a bit under 10 000 pageviews. Iâ€™d guess that visitor frequencies follow a power law. A small core of maybe 100 readers visit the blog every day, or more frequently; many of these also comment regularly. Then there is a much larger group (Iâ€™d guess thousands, but I have no real idea) who visit regularly but less frequently. Finally there are visitors who arrive as the result of a hyperlink and Google search, but arenâ€™t sufficiently interested to return.
I write mostly about political and economic issues, mostly, though not always taking a leftish or social democratic stance. But I also write a fair bit about books, sport and everyday life. One impact of blogging has been to expand my range of professional interests as an academic and newspaper columnist. For example, since taking up blogging, I have written articles for philosophy journals and reviews of science fiction.
One of the best things about blogs is the opportunity they provide for debate among people with a wide variety of backgrounds. While there are some issues where I can draw on my professional expertise as an economist, arguments from authority donâ€™t go far in the blog world. So blogging keeps me on my toes all the time.
* Stolen from my betters, I know, but that’s blogging for you