So I thought I’d write about something else, something far removed from “monetising”. Things I have been able to do Because Of my blog, rather than With my blog. These are (in no particular order):
1. Connect with long-lost friends I may not have found easily any other way
Chutki Ramaswamy, Deepak Wassan and Devangshu Dutta come to mind. It’s been over a quarter of a century since we were in contact, and yet an active blogosphere makes this possible. More importantly, it makes it happen non-intrusively and low-touch, almost serendipitously; in addition, there is an inherent collaborative filter present, since people who read my blog and comment on it are more likely to be interested in the same things as I am. Which brings me to points 2 and 3.
2. Extend my network with an implicit collaborative filter in place, connecting me with people with similar interests
Sure we can do this with other social-networking software and communities. But I think blogs are a richer, softer, less in-your-face and more accurate form of connection-making; in fact I think the better term is relationship-making, going beyond the connection very quickly. The process is not an automated matching of profiling and preference information, but something far more elaborate. I now have relationships with people I did not know, and have had the good fortune to meet a number of them face to face in places as disparate as Copenhagen and Amsterdam and San Francisco and Boston. And there are many more I will make a real effort to meet in person, because the conversations have been that worthwhile.
3. Use a collaborative filtering process in ways I hadn’t considered before
One of the criticisms levelled against the blogosphere is that it can become a real back-slapping mutual admiration society. [And yet, perversely, one of the biggest criticisms levelled against the same blogosphere is that it’s full of flames and hate and venom. Go figure]. When you’re dealing with ideas rather than people-gossip or events, I think the mutual-admiration aspect is weakened, almost negligible. The people I connect with are people who don’t necessarily share the same views as me, they are people who share the same interests. Important distinction. So we can have pro-Ayn-Randers discussing things with anti-Ayn-Randers, opensource-for-ever thinkers arguing with proprietary-wins-thinkers. And it helps keep me honest in my thinking, because I get to listen to opposing points of view I would not otherwise receive as easily. Which brings me to my next point.
4. Acquire new and different perspectives on things I’m interested in
Whether it’s Clarence Fisher on education or Dave The LifeKludger on kludging through life or taking a different view on what identity means through NextIdentity, a recent commenter, I get to experience a richer learning. People who are doing the job they are commenting on, helping me understand what I’m interested in anyway, but doing it in a way that adds an extra dimension to my learning.
5. Find things I’m looking for
No better example than the photograph I’ve already blogged enough about. But there are many others. Book recommendations that are far more accurate than an Amazon or a Google, because human brains have processed human information prior to making the recommendation. People I should meet, places I should visit, things I should do. All done on a voluntary and (yes it’s that word again) altruistic basis. Which brings me to my last point
6. Learn more about vulnerability and humility
You make yourself vulnerable when you blog, you can’t hide behind titles and walls and what-have-you. Occasionally you get active feedback, through conversation, comments and e-mail. But most of the time you don’t know, and you’re baring your mind. It may not be the case for everyone, but for sure I feel vulnerable when I blog. But I’m relaxed about it, because no relationship of value can exist without that vulnerability in all parts of that relationship. Why humility? Sure I can put on a mock-humble persona andÂ ask for comments and views while being completely closed to external input. But not for long. People aren’t stupid. You cannot game this. When people you don’t know bother to read what you have to say, that’s one thing. When they take the time and the effort to think about what you say, and respond with views and suggestions and comments, they’re doing this free-gratis-and-for-nothing. I feel privileged to have received the readership and comments I’ve had, because there’s no axe to grind, no business deal in the offing, no hidden agenda.Â And I don’t think people will bother to do so if they perceive there’s no real humility. Why should they?
The point of this post is that none of the items on the list above were expected outcomes when I started blogging. They were serendipitous by-products, and wonderful ones at that.