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Bill Brown

A complicated man.

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Yesterday, I didn’t feel like blogging so I didn’t. But it got me to thinking about why I am blogging at all. I mean, what is the point of composing entries at all? It’s not like I’m getting paid to do this. I’m not getting any job offers or writing contracts out of it. As a person who is predominantly guided by self-interest, these sorts of considerations carry a lot of weight.

I think I can categorically answer that its not because of any clamor for audience or recognition. If it was, then I certainly wouldn’t have continued on for the years that I have. As you can see from the recently added comments feature, there’s very little discussion and I think that’s because there’s not much of an audience here. I see from my logfiles that there is a fair amount of traffic to both my blog pages and their respective RSS feeds. But I’ve only received one email from someone who read my blog and it wasn’t exactly heart-rending since it was a pitch for a business. I’ve never been linked from a major blogger (sorry, Steve, but you’re B-list at best) or really had any evidence that my ramblings here have been ingested by anyone save those I specifically direct to check something out. I used to think that family and friends read this, but I’ve come to find out that they mainly frequent our pregnancy diary, which is perfectly fine and understandable. My friend Larry checks in occasionally, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I don’t write for him.

What would be the other motivation? It would have to be self-derived. Something inside of me makes me want to write what I write. Perhaps I’m a frustrated writer trapped inside of a Web developer’s body. Perhaps I’m Harry Hard-on and this is my version of a pirate radio station. That could actually be true. As a child, I explored pirate radio from every angle except for actually setting one up. When Pump Up the Volume came out, it was a liberating experience. I could picture myself as the quiet guy with a secret life as a disc jockey.

But maybe the media involved isn’t important. Maybe the thing that intrigued me then and keeps me going now is self-expression. I’ve spent my entire life accumulating information, synthesizing observations, and analyzing arguments. But I’ve never really had a forum to let that experience come out. Sure, there were the bulletin boards of the mid-80s and the newsgroups of the early 90s but that was mostly flaming and you quickly learnt that you couldn’t talk about everything you wanted to.

The Web, and blogs in particular, is very good at providing an outlet for me to write whatever I want in whatever format I want to whatever length I want. As I surf the Web, I come across things that make me think and about which I form conclusions and evaluations. Now I have a place where I can access them anywhere and refer people to them easily. I’m discussing an issue with someone and immediately my mind qua search engine brings up a result set of previous blog entries, essays, and reviews that I’ve written on the subject. If I want to impart those thoughts on the person I’m talking to, I need only point them to my site and I don’t have to rehash. What’s more, I’ve got essays here that stretch back my entire adult life. I’ve internalized their conclusions, but I frequently forget all of the research and detail that went into their crafting. It’s now readily accessible to me and others.

On the other hand, though, I’ve got plenty of tools on my computer that could serve the exact same purpose and probably do it as efficiently (or even more so) than my Web site. I carry my laptop around to most of the places where I spend more than an hour, so why would I go through the trouble to make a dynamic, broad Web site when tools reside on my laptop that would make things easier.

I think it’s because my Web site—and by extension, my blog—has become a part of my identity. There’s a reason why I call the site The Bill Brown Information Center and there’s a reason why my blog is called bblog. They’re a part of me: the expressive part that previously lay dormant. When you establish such things as aspects of yourself, letting them be or holding back feels wrong and out of character. I blog because I am, in other words.