Saturday, July 18, 2009

Saturday Morning Musings - musings on three years of blogging

I still find it hard to believe that it is now three years since I started blogging.

This blog started in March 2006, followed by New England Australia in April. Then in July came Managing the Professional Services Firm and Regional Living Australia followed in November by Management Perspectives and New England's History. One year, five blogs, each intended to serve a different purpose. Three years, 2,361 posts later, how has it all gone?

The world has changed a lot over the three years.

My own needs and objectives have changed.

When I began each blog was intended to serve a different purpose.

This blog was purely personal, a chance to reflect. No matter what the pressures may have been, I have kept it going regardless as my lead blog. This is reflected in the number of posts, 1133 or nearly half the total.

The blog has changed. Most recently, it has become more personal, more introspective. There has been less focus on the current, less on reference posts intended to attract search engine traffic. I have also begun to experiment in a small way with different writing forms, although this won't be immediately obvious.

I am presently experimenting with what I think of as my three hundred word posts. I often write very long posts. Now I am trying to limit a number just to three hundred words to make it easier for the reader. You can see this in my current multi-ethnic series.

This is actually quite hard. I write first in Word because this makes it easier to check word length, then transfer to Livewriter for final editing and then to the blog. 

New England Australia was intended to promote the story of New England, to carry on one of my longest running obsessions. In my first post I said:

This blog is dedicated to the history, culture and activities of the New England region of Australia. This was to be a campaigning blog.

In many ways New England does not exist. In the words of the Australian poet A D Hope, New England is an idea in the heart and mind.

In formal terms, the term New England is used to describe the Northern Tablelands of New South Wales. Here locals talk of "the New England." But the term is also used, and this is the way I use the term, to describe a much broader region that has maintained a struggle for self government - the right to govern itself within the Australian federation - since the middle of the 19th century.

We have come close at times, but success still eludes us. The forces of the status quo are very strong. So I thought that a site that focuses just on New England might provide another voice.

Writing on New England, looking at its history, led me in November 2006 to establish another blog dedicated to New England's history. This was not designed as a high traffic blog, more as a resource and place to record jottings.

New England Australia has had its ups and downs. To some degree it has suffered because I keep putting material on Personal Reflections! It has also suffered a little because of varying focus. Still, it has acquired its own character and is now my second traffic blog.

Perhaps more importantly from my perspective, it actually has played a useful if small role in keeping alive the concept of New England as an entity.

Whether called New England, the North or Northern NSW, the area does have its own history and culture. The absence of any form of formal expression of entity has a constant erosive effect, with the area being continually divided into new forms for the sake of administrative convenience. That any sense of identity survives at all is quite remarkable, and reflects underlying geography and history. 

For its part, New England's History has done what was originally intended. However, it has created its own dilemma. My knowledge advances. What do I do about earlier posts that are at best partial, at worst plain wrong? I really need to do a clean up.       

Managing the Professional Services Firm and Management Perspectives were intended to be purely professional blogs.

Managing the Professional Services Firm was intended to promote my personal expertise in professional services consulting, to campaign for improvements in management, while also generating revenue through ads. Management Perspectives began as a blog of record to make available some of the writing of I and my Ndarala colleagues.

With the global financial crisis and my renewed interest in economics, Management Perspectives turned into a vehicle for my economics writing, while Managing the Professional Services Firm actually got sidelined. I thought of merging the two, but they do serve different needs. I am still not sure here.  

Regional Living Australia and its associated web site were intended to be part campaigning, part commercial. Again, in recent times they have been side-tracked by other pressures.

Looking back over three years, a few things stand out.

The first is that blogging actually met the needs that I had at the time I started.

I started blogging at a time of some isolation, loneliness, difficulty and self-doubt. It opened a new world. The fact that I have not achieved some of the original blogging objectives I set is partially a matter of focus, more that my own needs and objectives have changed. In particular, I had no idea that writing of itself would become such an obsession. I cannot help myself, I am hopelessly addicted.  

The next thing that stands out are the people.

I do not even know how to begin to describe the importance of the people. There have been different people at different times as their and my needs change. In all cases, they have forced me to change my views and given me new insights.

Some have simply burned out. I miss them. Others continue, while new people have been added.

Marshall McLuhan, appropriately a Canadian given my current Canada interests, coined the term global village.The Wikipedia article notes that today, the term global village is mostly used as a metaphor to describe the Internet and World Wide Web. This misses the entire point.

I am what is called a townie. This phrase dates back to my days growing up in Armidale where there was town, gown and country. I straddled all three groups, but townie was my identification of myself.

The global village is not about the internet. It is about people.

As a townie, I don't think in these abstract terms. When something happens in Indonesia I think of Tikno, in India Ramana. So to a townie, Tikno or Ramana live in different parts of my town. They are, so to speak, just a few blocks away.

We are all the same. Even the most metro person actually still thinks this way.             

Finishing, I started blogging before the rise of Facebook or Twitter. Facebook in particular has affected blogging, attracting people away.

I find this a problem. Don't get me wrong. Both Facebook and Twitter have their purposes, something I have been meaning to write about. But when an active blogger moves to using these using these two tools in a major way a substitute for blogging, he/she moves away from the central aim of blogging, a universally available discussion. I think that's a pity.


Neil said...

Happy third blogging anniversary!

Jim Belshaw said...

Thank you, Neil.

Anonymous said...

That is an incredible blogging output over 3 years Jim. I enjoy reading your 'personal reflections' blog although I comment rarely. The length of your posts doesn't make me any less willing to read them. There is that famous saying 'I am writing you a long letter because I don't have time to write a short one' but I don't think prolixity is a disadvantage in blogs generally. In fact I think they work best as a 'stream of consciousness' style of communication. All the best with your 'obsession' and happy blogging for the future.

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi anon, and my thanks. I am sure that some stream of consciousness will continue!

Tikno said...

Although global village is not about the internet but these virtual village has using internet for connection.

Happy third blogging anniversary!

What is your vision for the future of this blog (Personal Reflection)? More to politic, culture, history or ...?

Tikno said...

Like Anon said, you are incredible!
So I thought, I can not chase you.

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi Tikno and thanks (blush!.

On this blog, like yours, writing will take me where it will. I want to write what I want to write, chat with friends, read what other people say, keep our little village going.

I have no objective beyond this.

Legal Eagle said...

Wow, gratz, Jim! I've loved reading your work (as you hopefully know) and I've loved meeting new people through your blog too.

Jim Belshaw said...

LE, blush again! May we both continue to meet new people.