The TucsonCitizen.com is a community of bloggers. Belonging to such a community has both advantages and disadvantages and in the course of time The Data Port has belonged to three different communities.
The first was the Salon Blogs group, which is where I did my first blogging. The writers were pretty much what you might expect from a group of Salon readers. Softly leftish, literary, and as likely to post about poetry and music as about politics. For the most part the individual blogs were pretty to look at.
Looking back I don’t remember that the web was characterized by what we know today as “social media.” I suppose the the first blogs were the social media. You advertised and promoted your own blog by reading other blogs and writing the authors to tell them that you were adding them to your blogroll. The hope, of course, was that they would respond in kind.
Salon wound down its support for the blogging community and many drifted off to Blogspot, but the sense of community was lost in the sheer size of the Blogspot universe.
The Data Port was happy with Blogger, which was easy to use, and it became active in the blogosphere that grew up around Gabrielle Giffords’ first run for Congress. The blog became much less general and more political.
Eventually, after the emotional Sturm und Drang of that first campaign subsided, The Data Port was picked up by Lefty Blogs and anything of a strictly left wing political nature appeared there. If I blogged about motorcycles, poetry, or the little disturbances of man I wouldn’t make the cut. (Lefty Blogs seems to be dead, by the way. If not, I’d be glad to hear from readers where it’s gone or what has taken its place.)
Being part of a blogging community has advantages and disadvantages that vary according to the nature of the community. One advantage trumps everything else: If you want your blog to be read you’re better off writing cheek by jowl with others in a community of writers. If your blog is posted on a site that regularly attracts readers, your own blog is more likely to be read…or at least looked for. The Data Port has had more readers since joining The Citizen than it had in its other communities.
There are disadvantages, however. Your blog’s appearance is largely out of your hands, constrained as it is by something that roughly resembles a newspaper column or news story.
There is another constraint that’s largely psychological but fairly strong: Once you establish your blog as about some particular topic…politics, dogs, religion, the environment, Hispanic affairs or auto racing…you’ll find it hard to shift gears to something entirely different. You feel that this “something different” is not what your readers want from you.
Two examples: This series, probably; and and an attempt to write a short story in continuing installments. This last seemed so uncomfortable that after a couple of sections I moved it to an alternate Data Port location. No one read it there, either. So, no more short stories.However, you’re stuck with these retrospectives for a while longer.
The one constraint that is significantly lacking is editorial control by Gannett or our editor Mark Evans. So long as you do not utter palpable falsehoods, commit libel or violate copyright you’re good to go. Simple bone-headed errors are cheerfully corrected by our readers.
Next: Writing for Fame and Writing For Money