i’ve been reading other people’s blogs for such a long time now that I can’t even remember when I first knew about blogging. I know I was definitely reading blogs about 3 or 4 years ago because that’s when I first started writing about them. Writing, offline that is. A lot of the time for my Masters degree.
For the last couple of years I’ve been reading blogs (well, really mostly RSS feeds) extensively. There are dozens that I try to keep up with on an almost daily basis (which is more or less impossible, I’m still working on strategies to manage all the information I want to keep up with!). In that time I’ve been reading a lot of blogs that I’ve found relevant to the type of work I was doing (being a web producer at an agency), but also ones that I followed personally – either due to my non-work interests, or because the writers of the blogs have become like virtual friends of mine – not that any of them would know it!
Until now, I’ve actually been pretty proactive in *not* having an online presence. Which seems bizarre for someone who has worked in the industry for a decade or so. There have been two main reasons for that.
Issue One: Privacy & Identity
Now, there are two enormous subjects that I have no hope of properly addressing in the time that I have available to write this post. Suffice to say that on the privacy front, there have been all kinds of horror stories about stalking and other violent type activities, coupled with the more contemporary stories of identity theft and more ‘white collar’ attacks – its taken me a long time to reconcile my own activity and exposure online with all of that hype. (Which is not to say that I’ve now decided that it doesn’t exist!).
I think that the biggest reason that I’m now more comfortable with the idea of using my real name, and maybe sharing a bit about who and where I am, is that there are now so many of us online… perhaps it feels as though the probability that someone will attack little old me is mitigated by the fact that there are more of you to get!
Not only that, but smart people are now willing to share with you (and everyone else online) far more details that I’m comfortable with just yet. Robert Scoble recently posted a stack of personal details, including his mobile phone number, on his website. He was mostly appealing to the rest of the bloggersphere to include their email address on their blog homepage, but it raised a pretty interesting discussion around why you may or may not want to do this (check out the comments following the post). I’m not quite up to handing over my mobile phone number, just yet.
Google, I think, has a lot to do with my decision to ‘come out’ online also. You really can’t go anywhere or do anything these days without someone putting your name online, and the result of this is that suddenly you have an online identity that you have not much to do with! Don’t bother Googling me now, its not that there’s anything salubrious that you’ll find that I’m attempting to balance out with this blog – but it makes it clear that I now have an online identity whether I like it or not – this way I can have some kind of control over it! (in just a small way, i know).
Meanwhile – just do me a favour. If I stop blogging without telling you, can someone call the police and let them know that an internet stalker has come and kidnapped me! ;)
Issue Two: Not being right and knowing everything (or really, anything new or interesting or worthwhile contributing!)
The reason that I didn’t deal with the privacy question earlier is probably because I haven’t really felt as though I’ve had anything interesting to say! And I’ve also been terrified that I’d say something that everyone thought was wrong and totally ridiculous, and then I’d feel embarrassed and humiliated, and wanting to crawl under a virtual rock.
Now, don’t think for a moment that I now feel as though I’ve discovered the meaning of life, the universe and everything, but I feel as though I’ve served my apprenticeship, and as a result of that, I’ve got some things to say that some people might find interesting. I’ve been around for long enough now to know that I can defend most of the opinions that I have, but most of all, I’m completely comfortable with admitting that there are lots of things I know nothing about. In fact, in my first week or so of blogging (ah, how time flies!) I think I’ve probably asked more questions than I’ve provided answers! (if only there were more people out there answering them for me!!)
But, then. There’s a good reason why there’s not so many people out there. So far as ‘Blog Promotion’ goes, I’ve done hardly any. Most people I know in ‘real life’ don’t even know about this blog! (hi James and Lelak, the exceptions). I’m sure I’ll get a bit more sharing as I get a bit more comfortable being in this space. For the time being, I have Google Analytics, and I know that even in the worst case scenario, there’s only a few dozen people out there to hurl abuse or contempt, and I can cope with that for now :)
Suffice to say, I’ve been too scared to have a blog up until now. Hell, I’ve been too scared to comment in other people’s blogs up until now. But I’m out. I’m scared, but I’m out.
Consider yourself warned :)