Long-time readers of DennisKennedy.Blog will know that I regularly listen to my iPod in the shuffle mode and sometimes notice patterns in the randomness. Yesterday was an example, I think, of an interesting pattern.
Although I did not technically get the three items I’ll mention here exactly in a row, it was close enough that I’ll take the liberty of saying that I did.
First, a PRI: Open Source podcast featuring historian Gordon Wood about the “historicness” (my term, not his) of the 2008 election. Wood made a striking comment, which I’ll paraphrase, that the young generation is looking forward to this election as a way to show that this country has finally moved beyond the era of racism, because the legacy of racism is profoundly disturbing to our younger generations. I invite you to think about that for a few minutes the next time you start a rant about whatever negative qualities of the “younger generations” happen to bother you.
This also reminded me of something I heard recently on a podcast about college age and younger students and the older technologies that we knew but they won’t ever experience. What surprises them most? It won’t be what you think. It’s that they are surprised how difficult it once was to make your opinions known to the world. That’s profound, at least to me, and why blogs and RSS have been so game-changing.
Second, my iPod served up Brue Springsteen’s “The Land of Hope and Dreams.” In my personal Springsteen canon, this song rates extremely high, especially given his tendency to perform a condensed version of Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” within the song in some live performances.
Third, and this one did immediately follow The Land of Hope and Dreams, was the NPR On Point podcast featuring Andrew Sullivan on “Can Bloggers Save Journalism?” Andrew is at the top of his game and, if you are a blogger, you have to hear his comments, especially in the first part of the podcast. His insights are so compelling in many ways at many levels on, again, the game-changing nature of blogging. Just one example was his comment that blogging has created a new form of writing that resides somewhere between writing and speaking.
Now, I’m going to take this post in a direction that you might not expect, as I usually do.
All of these got me thinking about the “historicness” of your own blog and whether you should always stay on topic on your blog no matter what is happening outside your blog.
I’ve been blogging for nearly six years. I’ve been known to go “off topic” every now and then, although, for the most part, this blog tries to cover technology as it relates to the legal profession.
Probably the most common criticism or question I’ve gotten over the years relates to my use of personal themes and moving off-topic. Some people simply don’t understand that. I remember well how someone lit me up for actually mentioning NASCAR (in a favorable way) on a law blog. If I recall correctly, I’m still blogging and they are not. I’m just sayin’.
Ironically, some of my posts that some feel went farthest off the path (my Metalica post and the Steve Gadd copyright post) are definitely among my best-liked and most popular posts. The fact is that you learn to trust the authors of the blogs you like and are rewarded when you trust them enough to follow where they lead.
Here’s my thought for today. Our blogs live within the context of our current history and they tell a story about how we relate to that history. It’s interesting and telling to look back at what your blog said at different historic points.
And it gives you an odd feeling to see a blog post with a date of 9/11/2001, for example, that stays on topic and does not refer to the events of the day. I’m not being critical. It’s not that you can judge at any given time what the significance of a day is, but, on the other hand, it’s odd to see that at a time when something momentous was happening a blog seems to be oblivious to the historic events of the time. It would be disconcerting to look back in the future and see that during historic times in the fall of 2008, my blog might have been focused on the difficulty I was having with the Firefox awesome bar. I’m sure that you get the idea of what I mean.
Now, we are at a time of economic turmoil with potentially unprecedented impact, an election of historic proportions and other events of a magnitude that it makes it almost impossible, I’d think, for a blogger resist using his or her forum to comment on these things, even if only to make a record of what it is that you were thinking for a time when you later want to look back.
I enjoy when bloggers reach that point where they realize that they have to use their platform to talk about what matters to them, with a sense of rawness and revelation, even if it seems to be off topic. I find that compelling reading and, frankly, it makes me more willing to stick with them when they stay on topic. Four recent memorable examples for me are here, here, here and here. It’s also interesting that each of these posts is in that zone between writing and speaking, and feels closer to a speaking voice.
So, I decided today to post about the Land of Hope and Dreams rather than about legal technology and about when it’s time to stay on topic and when it’s time to leave your topic behind for a post or two.
And what will you be posting about in coming days?
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
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