What Good Blogs Are For

Itís been so long since Iíve written, really written on this blog. And I think that one of the key reasons has to do with the fact that Iíve used the purpose, or mission, of this blog, increasingly as an argument for NOT writing on it rather than a reason to produce. And so, over time, this site has become a promise that I havenít kept, both to readers and to myself. Itís damn hard to post on a frequent basis. At least it is for me, and Iíve got my reasons. Part of it has to do with an unwillingness to share drafts. Another part has to do with a hidden confusion about what exactly this blog is for.

I guess the topic brings to my mind one of my favorite poems, by Tom Wayman, titled ďWhat Good Poems Are For.Ē I hope that Iím not violating any copyright law here by reprinting it in its entirety. I couldnít find a link to it anywhere on line. Here goes:

What Good Poems Are For

To sit on a shelf in the cabin across the lake
where the young man and the young woman
have come to liveóthere are only a few books
in this dwelling, and one of them
is this book of poems.
To be like plants
on a sunlit windowsill
of a city apartmentóall the hours of care
that go into them, the tending and watering,
and yet to the casual eye they are just present
--a brief moment of enjoyment.
Only those who work on the plant
know how slowly it grows
and changes, almost dies from its own causes
or neglect, or how other plants
can be started from this one
and used elsewhere in the house
or given to friends.
But everyone notices the absence of plants
in a residence
even those who donít have plants themselves.
There is also (though this is more rare)
Bob Smithís story about the man in the bar up North,
a man in his 50ís, taking a poem from a new book Bob showed him
around from table to table, reading it aloud
to each group of drinkers, because, he kept saying,
the poem was about work he did, what he knew about,
written by somebody like himself.
But where could he take it
except from table to table, past the fuck offs
and the Hey, thatís pretty goods? Over the noise
of the jukebox and the barís TV,
past the silence of the lake,
a person is speaking
in a world full of people talking.
Out of all that is said, these particular words
put down roots in someoneís mind
so that he or she likes to have them hereó
these words that no one was paid to write
that live with us for a while
in a small container
on the ledge where the light enters.

A person is speaking in a world full of people talking.

Yeah, that pretty much says it all to me. Thatís what I want other blogs to do for me, and above all, thatís what I aspire to do here. To me the vast majority of blogs are good ideas gone bad. So much noise and clutter and self-techno-love of what can be done rather than what should be done. So much tagging and linking and spinning and flashing and just not enough speaking. They make me feel anxious when I visit them, fearful that Iím missing the point, or donít have the time to visit the links, or wonít download the coolest new viral piece-o-intellectual-detritus.

Iím not anti-technology, nor anti-fun geeky features. I just believe they should be used proportionally, instrumentally. Few blogs realize the promise of the medium, and I donít have the time, patience, energy, or concentration to keep up with the cacophonous blogosphere. And as a result Iíve also put less and less mind and material on this site.

Recently Seth Godin commented that blogging is the new poetry, which is a scary thought. That would mean that the only people who earn a living are those who teach the craft as opposed to those who excel at it. It would mean that the majority of the work is sentimental, inscrutable, pretentious, and generally irrelevant (and this from a guy who loves poetry.) And while he may believe that the main reason that most bloggers blog is ďnot for commercial gain or to find a large audience of strangers. Instead, itís a form of self-expression, a chance to be creative or share some ideas,Ē go out and find me one serious poet who wouldnít kill for commercial gain or widespread acclaim.

I think great blogs should do a few simple things: serve as a medium for individuals to speak in their own voice. They should start conversations. They should realize the promise of the technology. For this site, I have a few goals in August:

--Realize the promise of this website.
--Provide a forum for all my writing.
--Sell the remaining copies of my book The Startup Garden.
--Lay the foundation for my next book.

To any and all of my readers, I welcome and thank you for visiting this site and reading my stuff. Letís see what we get going this month.

Posted by tom at August 1, 2006 10:38 AM
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