Sunday, September 23, 2007

Why Blog?

Last weekend I couldn’t publish any posts on my blog. I was too busy working on a research paper. The paper dealt with the motivational aspects of an entrepreneur. Normally, it takes months or sometimes even years to convert an idea to a publishable research paper. It takes a lot of effort to refine an idea and make it coherent enough to be able to do research on it and finally publish it. So, today evening while preparing my dinner I was ruminating over my idea and suddenly there was a flash of another idea, which I thought I could publish on my blog. After dinner I went straight to my laptop and started typing my new blog entry. But then as you write, ideas evolve and often the direction of the essay changes. That’s exactly what happened. My idea took an unexpected sharp turn, and another idea was born. Though related to the blog idea, it was much more profound and seemed to have a lot of research potential. I felt too greedy to publish it just as a blog entry. I thought it deserved to be nurtured and transformed into a publishable paper for an academic journal, and so I decided to withhold posting it on my blog. But as I changed my mind, I felt guilty of giving second class treatment to my blog.

May be I shouldn’t feel guilty at all. When the idea is mine, it is for me to decide the most suitable place for its publication. An idea published in an academic journal is valued numerous times more than one published in a blog. Research is a high stakes profession where your worth is judged based on the power of your ideas. For blogs on the other hand, there are almost no stakes or prizes involved (at least in my case). Going by this logic, probably there was nothing wrong in diverting an idea to research that was initially meant for blog. Yet, I feel guilty of withholding. So I decided to share my withholding decision with my readers. If not anything else, I could at least be intellectually honest and let my readers know about my withholding. But I hope my blog entry for today is more than just a self-disclosure. It does bring up questions about why and how people blog? This question is intriguing particularly in case of researchers, authors, and journalists who already have other better avenues of expression? Sometimes it may be a strategic choice for them, like for instance to promote a book. This is probably true for many popular blogs like Freakonomics and the one recently started by Paul Krugman. How do the authors of these blogs decide on what to publish where? I don’t have clear cut answers to these questions, and I don’t intend to play a guessing game on the motivations and decision making rules of these bloggers. However, these are interesting questions probably on which somebody could do some research.

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