Saturday, January 1, 2011

Why Blog?

Figure 1. The First Blog (picture by
Nik Williams and taken from
Livingstone (1988)).
I washed my hands till they hurt then went to my room and smoked several cones. While the water was bubbling I caught sight of the picture of the Empire State Building by the window. I thought about Andy Warhol, and this led me to think about Velvet Underground, and then I remembered the Lou Reed/John Cale tape someone gave me for my birthday. Next thing I knew I had the tapes out and I was mixing Lou singing “Andy was a Catholic” with a sample from ‘Long Live Love’ over a fast dance beat. I decided to top it off with the sound of the bong, and it took me a hell of a lot of cones to get the water bubbling in the right rhythm. By the time I’d finished, I’d made eighty-five seconds and I was stoned off my head, totally unable to do what I was supposed to do – work on Big George’s barbie. Ah, but I had worked. That’s what George and Mum and people like them didn’t realize. I had worked. I’d made eighty-five seconds of something (Stevens, 1996, pp. 32-33).

While the above quote seems like a weird way to kick off a new blog (and do we really need another one of these beasts?), I think it perfectly captures the imaginative process we call creativity. Let’s face it – blogging is being creative. You’re typing out a bunch of text for the edification of yourself or for consumption by others. Gibson (2010, p. 9) notes that “Technocrati currently track[s] over 112 million blogs and over 175,000 new blogs being created worldwide every day”. That’s a lot of people being creative. What harm can one more do?

Waxing mystical about the creative process contravenes Laws’ (2004) Eleventh Law of his manifesto of blogging limitations. Nevertheless, creativity, or as Tolkien would describe it – Subcreation (for only the Creator God of whatever religion you choose to practice can Create!) – is “the building of sound and solid Secondary Worlds, and the goal of all art” (Carter, 1969, p. 90). Blogging as art? Hmmm… While that may prove a profitable future avenue of discussion (although I’m sure it’s been done), perhaps it’s time to ratchet this post back to an immediate and localized past – i.e. mine.

Why am I doing this? Strauss (2005) talks of a moment in his life when:

I was in a whirlwind of learning. I didn’t call my friends. I barely talked to my family. I turned down every writing assignment that came my way. I was living in an alternate reality (p. 144).

While my object of study was far, far more mundane than that of Strauss, I found myself in the similar and common predicament when an adult realizes that in order for them to get ahead or find a better job, they’re going to have to return to university and study part-time while working full-time. When both study and work revolve around acquiring and practicing the same knowledge, life becomes an 18 hour tutorial, interrupted only by sleep.

In my case, it was teaching, and one of the first tenets I learned was the art of reflection, a tool to “examine the present moment, to step back and consider the complementary and competing forces in a past situation, and to forge a path forward” (Snowman et al., 2009, p. 587). Educational reflection is not an easy process however, for it involves revisiting past experiences. Miller (2009) for instance says:

I found the suggestion insulting and disturbing. The idea of returning to a site of agony, shame, and ridicule was impossible. I was trying to forget school, not remember it (p. 909).

One of the ways to deal (or not deal!) with such a process is avoidance, and in the internet age, avoidance is easy! Allsopp (2010) notes most people online are looking for something to fill a need and avoid the school or office work they could or should be doing. In my case, this manifested as trawling through the plethora of blogs and their archives that were springing up on subjects I was interested in (I plan on talking about some of these in a future post). Naturally, this had a kick-on effect, and I starting thinking about things I’d like to see blogged but weren’t. Was there a niche to fill there, no matter how small? Perhaps, and hence this blog…

However, before looking at some of the things I will be blogging about, it’s worth looking at what I won’t do, and that’s nicely summed up by Laws’ (2004) Thirteen Laws in his manifesto of blogging, and partially summarized here:

  • No sickness
  • No mucus
  • No boredom
  • No awakenings
  • No venting
  • No weather
  • No linkage
  • No cats
  • No tech snafus
  • No mystical waxing on the creative process
  • No quizzes
  • No languages I cannot speak

In fact the only deviation, as we’ve seen, will be an occasional tendency to ponder the deeper mysteries of creativity, purely because it’s fun and I get a kick out of it! In addition, I can promise I will be blogging about a long list of hideously geekish ecletica:

  • Gamebooks
  • Role-Playing Games
  • Boardgames
  • My Play by Email projects
  • Books
  • Music
  • Films
  • Reviews of all of the above
  • …and an absolute dumpster-load of who knows what other cringe and wince-inducing obsessions…

Lastly, it’s worth noting that cyber-history has it all wrong. The word ‘blog’ was not originally devised by Jorn Barger, Peter Merholz, or Evan Williams (Baker, 2008). It was concocted by the English fantasy author and entrepreneur Ian Livingstone way back in 1988 in his Fighting Fantasy gamebook Armies of Death:

…you run towards the bush ahead. A small brown-skinned creature suddenly jumps out from behind it, pointing a long blowgun straight at you. You recognize it as a Blog because of its dog-like head and the shrunken heads that are tied to its belt. Infamous for cooking human flesh in large cauldrons, Blogs are hated and hunted down by all human races. A split second later, a poison dart is flying towards you… (paragraph 265 - see Figure 1).

And on that note, until next time!


Allsopp, G. (2010). The process that makes me thousands of dollars per month online. Message posted to

Baker, J. (2008, April 20). Origins of “Blog” and “Blogger”. Message posted to

Carter, L. (1969). Tolkien: A look behind The Lord of the Rings. New York: Ballantine.

Gibson, A. (2010). WordPress rules! In Beginner’s guide to WordPress (pp. 8-11). London: Imagine Publishing.

Laws, R. D. (2004, March 5). These things I pledge to you. Message posted to

Livingstone, I. (1988). Armies of Death. London: Puffin.

Miller, A. (2009). Pragmatic radicalism: An autoethnographic perspective on pre-service teaching. Teaching and Teacher Education, 25(2009), 909-916.

Snowman, J., Dobozy, E., Scevak, J., Bryer, F., Bartlett, B., & Biehler, S. (2009). Psychology Applied to Teaching: 1st Australian Edition. Qld: John Wiley & Sons.

Stevens, L. (1996). Big man’s barbie. Sydney: Vintage.

Strauss, N. (2005). The game: Penetrating the secret society of pickup artists. New York: HarperTorch.

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