"Do you remember your first time?"
It seems like the kind of secretive question one teenager would ask another, giggling about the idea that both had engaged in a forbidden sexual act. But no, the question is about blogging, a seemingly common household word. Do I remember the first time I heard the word "blog?"
Actually, I do. It was sometime in 2000 or 2001. I was searching via Google for information about a new singer whose music I had recently heard. Her voice had captivated me at a time in my life when I needed to be captivated. I learned through that search that she was apparently a teenage one-hit wonder--and a very troubled teenager at that. I learned it because I followed a link on her web site labeled "blog" and proceeded to read her online journal. It was filled with the desperate cries of a seventeen-year-old with no spiritual grounding. She apparently set foot in church occasionally, but her please for someone to listen to her were sprinkled with threats of suicide and curses about her bad days.
What an introduction to blogging! I later learned that the blog was also used by theology professionals to air their views and news reporters to share up-to-the-minute stories and opinion pieces. Blogs may be for public viewing, "friends-only," or private spaces where a person can archive their thoughts without keeping a copy on a local computer. Blogs come in many forms. These many forms have created a virtual community of sorts. People have become friends after first making acquaintance on blogs and taking their communication to email, phone, and then meeting in person. I am among such people who have been changed by "the blogosphere." It is rather amazing that it happened after I received such a negative introduction to blogging.
Then again, perhaps my introduction was not so negative. ... It was not blogging that I was really introduced to... It was the child-turned-star, the child who needed a connection so badly that she posted her most painful thoughts for public viewing... And this tells the story of blogging in a nutshell: it is attempt to connect and communicate. Sometimes the connection is one-way; but often the blogger seeks connection in return via comments. Not only does the blogger seek connection with himself, but he seeks to develop a place of guided community for readers by using the blog content area to start discussion. This is what the most successful bloggers do.