Update: Oh my! Thank you Dr. Helen for linking here twice, even. What an honor! Your readers may enjoy my recent posts on Shelter Magazine Bloggers or India's Female Genocide. Look around, new friends. I always appreciate feedback.
Update II: Dr. Helen's readers, I added more thoughts in the Power of Words. Hope you enjoy. Thank you again for stopping by.
Who blogs? Lots of people do, obviously. People blog about topics so vast one can hardly imagine it. We need a website like Technorati to help us sort through it all.
But what I wonder is, what type of person blogs? I believe they are a self-selected bunch. Like Firemen, or Soldiers, or Nurses, or Lawyers, I think successful bloggers (and those of us who operate at the margins) must have certain traits to commit to the task. These traits are not gender specific, but gender does play a part in who blogs. Bloginality has done personality typing--ala Meyers-Briggs. Not a MB fan, too superficial and the premise is stupid, "What are you like when you are on vacation?" Um, I'm on vacation two weeks a year. The rest of the time is the real "me".
Here are some of my thoughts about the best bloggers:
- Bloggers are verbal. They may be not always be verbally extroverted in public, but they talk a lot when they talk to their close friends and confidants. This trait means that the men who blog carry this more feminine trait. Men speak a fraction the amount of words a woman does, but not blogging men. They write and write and write, which to me, is a version of communication--even if it isn't spoken. Look at the guys at StoptheACLU. They go non-stop. Look at the anonymous force behind TheTruthLaidBear. And don't even get Markos Moulitas Zunigas at Daily Kos started. The man won't stop.
- Bloggers are confident in their opinions enough to subject them to criticism. It takes a certain amount of inner-fortitude to put ideas out there. This trait is (oh, I can feel the heat coming) more masculine. One blog writer, a business consultant mentions this and extends the fact that women are less likely to comment on blogs, just as they are less likely to speak up during a meeting in the workplace. So the women that blog are strong and willing to spar--Ann Althouse, Michelle Malkin, Betsy Newmark, Anchoress, MaxedOutMama, Arianna Huffington.
- Bloggers are optimistic. A blogger must believe that his or her words will make a difference. Most of the time, I feel like I'm just spouting my opinion to the wind. Most of the time I am. Every once in a while I'll get an email from someone who passed along my post to someone in "need." This scares the crap out of me on the one hand, on the other hand, it is precisely part of the reason I blog. Glenn Reynolds feels passionately about abolishing "pork" and has actively pursued that passion with Pork Busters. His wife, Dr. Helen Smith, a heart attack survivor, blogs on her heart experiences and other psychological phenomenon. Dr. Sanity, another psych blogger deconstructs the psychology of political happenings.
- Bloggers are often experts. This is one reason I have left the MSM behind for serious analysis. Why would I listen to a reporter when real experts with real opinions abound? Want to know about the Middle East? Read Michael Totten. Want to know what's going on from an Iraqi's perspective in Iraq? Read IraqtheModel. If they aren't experts, per se, they have a love or hobby and the blog indulges this. I'm reminded of Brendan Loy, a law student, who loves Hurricanes. Yeah, I know. That might not seem normal, but the dude is a fund of knowledge and more accurate than the news most of the time. Want to know the latest marketing trends? Read Passionate Users or Seth Godin. You name it, there is an expert willing to give (free!) advice and information. Expert=smart. These people are educated, engaged and interested in their topics. They have emotional attachments to their topics. This makes them far more interesting than most books you could read. They blog their love.
- Bloggers have weird social skills. That is to say, most of them, were not the life-of-the-party types in their college frat. Content to be viewed as nerds, or dedicated nose-to-the-grindstone types, the blogosphere gives them the social outlet, without the social commitment, they enjoy. Blogging is a lot like a long-distance relationship. The investment is time and knowledge, but the interaction is limited. Yes, yes. There are comments. And as Jeff Goldstein knows, they can be extremely personal. But it is still not the same as a bar-fight. Most bloggers would lose a bar room brawl. There are exceptions. Some view this derisively. In fact, Guardian Unlimited columnist Catherine Bennett says that blogland is what fishing used to be for guys--a place they can interact and talk about the missus and "mammararies". I don't know about her dismissive generalizations, but I do know that a great blogger doesn't have to be Mr. or Ms. Personality to be great.