Sunday, July 08, 2007

When blogging doesn't work

I recently decided to stop keeping my family blog. In the days before the blog, I used to write what I called irregular periodic roundups, which went to family and friends ranging from New Zealand to the west coast of the USA and from Sweden to South Africa with several places in between. My tendency to write as I think with my tongue often jammed firmly in my cheek was apparently much appreciated by those with an interest in the family. As well as these, I used to keep up and ad hoc email communications with various members of this distribution list. My most prolific correspondent emailed me three times a week, the least prolific once or twice a year.

Shortly after I started this blog, I thought it would be a good idea to create a family blog, too. I posted news updates, pictures, and various bits and bobs that would be of interest to the readers of my emails. At first, it worked well. I sent out occasional reminder links to the members of the distribution list from the irregular periodic roundups. One family member with paranoid tendencies regarding the internet refused to visit the blog in case it harboured a noxious virus, so I covered that base by setting up a feedblitz feed and forwarding updates to their email address. For everyone else, the novelty value kept things ticking over nicely at first.

After a while I noticed one massive difference between blog posts and emails: people feel duty bound to reciprocate when they get news via email, they do not feel the same way about blog posts. Our inbox went from busy to deserted in a very short space of time. Not being very web 2.0 literate or proficient, few readers were brave enough to post comments, and the communication became one-way. Once that happened, they began to feel less involved and therefore less interested, and they gradually stopped reading altogether.

In an attempt to re-establish the lines of communication, I have decided to revert to email. It's harder work, but then relationships aren't about minimum effort at the end of the day. If they're worth maintaining, they're worth time and effort. I suspect that in some cases, things have gone beyond the point of no return and before any more follow suit, I'm going back to 1.0. When 2.0 comes in the way of relationships it ceases to be a Good Thing.


Claudia Ceraso said...


I think you have assessed tools and decided according to the most important value: people connecting. Only then you may decide what works best.

You say,
people feel duty bound to reciprocate when they get news via email.
I would add, when the email is sent directly to me. Not a copy or a forward to a collection of people, none being particularly addressed to.

The difference in web literacy between you and your family may have been crucial to turn the scenario into a one-way communication. However, I find that email is a more intimate, private context of communication. Maybe this is just an association of mine. But it could account for feeling less involved in contacting via a blog environment. More of an affective divide than a digital one.

Now wondering about your thoughts...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comments, Claudia. I think you have accurately assessed the situation. While my irregular periodic roundups were always addressed to a wide audience, they tended to spark off individual communication which is, as you say, more personal and specific. And yes, at the end of the day, it's about the people.