Wednesday, September 13, 2006

blogging about blogging memes

I've seen two memes about blogging around lately and they each have some good points and some questions I don't feel like answering. So I've decided to combine them. I've been doing some thinking about this blog business lately and where I want it to go post-PhD so this may form the start of a bit of a series about blogging. Or not.

Anyways, first drawn from the meme seen at Chaotic Utopia.

Why do you blog?

From my very first post "I propose to write about being a scientist from a woman's perspective. This may include thoughts on lab work vs. field work, interesting discoveries that I hope to make, musings on balancing work life with real life, and whatever else seems appropriate. This year I've been thinking a lot about how and when to have children and how that meshes (or doesn't) with my career. So I'm sure there will be some mention of that later on..."

I guess it still fits what I write about but it is more of a "what do you blog" rather than a "why do you blog" sort of answer. I started blogging because I was feeling isolated and looking for support. I continue blogging because of the support I get and all of the great people I have encountered through this forum. It's also kind of fun to look at the world/events/life in a "is this worth writing about? how would I write about it?" sort of way. Plus, it's a good means of procrastination.

How long have you been blogging?

Since April 2005. But I have had various websites since 1995. The most recent pre-blog incarnation was a once-a-month updated web page for family and friends but I got tired of feeling like I had to "put on a pretty face" and only show the cheerful parts of my life. Both my dad and my brother work in computer-related fields, so I think blogging and designing/maintaining websites are just my way of using that set of genes.

Why do readers read your blog?

I must have something interesting to say sometimes because they seem to keep coming back.

What was the last search phrase someone used to get to your site?

female preteen scientists

And the few before that were also fun: keep name professionally and change name personally; getting married professional name; promise message chocolate; alice siebold; being a good wife when your husband is unemployed; scientist wardrobe; being sick in bed together.

OK, maybe that last one really isn't that fun, but I can clearly see how they link to my post topics. Aside from my proper name for a woman series (36 comments on part 2!!!), the post generating the most searches is usually the polar bears and penguins piece. But a search I noticed a few days ago was just odd: Why do women in pants cause temptation?

Which of your entries unjustly gets too little attention?

I think my blog entries sometimes get more attention (compassion) than they deserve. But I guess I'll pick this piece on "advice to a young grad student."

What blog did you read most recently?
Inky circus - but don't follow that link unless you have some kleenex handy as their current post is a doozy.

Which feeds do you subscribe to?
My current bloglines count is 61 feeds (counting 3 versions of my own to monitor the delay between when I post and when you all see it). I add feeds sporadically but some of my feeds I fear may link to defunct blogs or at least very irregular posters. I keep some of them around because I hope that the blog will be resurrected.

And here's some questions drawn from the meme seen at Nonoscience.

1. Are you satisfied with your blog’s content and looks.

Looks: Yes and no. It's time for a new header and color scheme. I'd love to figure out how to make it have 3 columns but I am not sure what I'd put in the third column. I'd like post categories that people could find and to have back and forward buttons. All but the header seem hard to do in Blogger and I'll have to attack them piecemeal.

Content: Yes and no. I feel restricted from writing about the science I do and that's something I'm struggling with now. But I feel like if I talked about my science I would be more identifiable and then feel less free to talk about the personal stuff. I don't want to dramatically change the tone/theme of this blog, so I guess I am contented with the content.

2. Does your family know about your blog?

Brother does and reads occasionally. BusinessMan does and never bothers to read - figuring I'll tell him if it's important. He does read Writer Chica's though, since he doesn't get to see her everyday. My mom doesn't know, wouldn't get it, and wouldn't approve with public sharing of personal stuff and potential career impacts. My dad doesn't know, but might think it's cool that I'm "into" this aspect of computer life, but I don't care to have him read it. My in-laws don't know. They'd probably think it's weird. Not having most of my family know is way for me to avoid feeling a need to filter out the not-happy stuff.

3. Do you feel embarrassed to let your friends know about your blog? Do you consider it a private thing?

Some of the friends I've told just don't get it and show no further interest. And that's fine. But a few have become regular readers. Long-distance friends seem to appreciate it more. I wouldn't say I'm embarrassed to tell friends about the blog, but it is always a bit awkward to bring up. Mostly because a lot of people either don't know what a blog is, or their perceptions of bloggers are shaped by media coverage that focuses on political blogs. I haven't had the experience of telling a friend that I blog and having him/her admit to blogging too. My friends that do blog either did so before I started or knew that I blogged before starting their own. I haven't yet met any of my readers (that I didn't already know) in real life, but I look forward to it.

4. Did blogging cause positive changes in your thoughts?

Blogging has been a great source of support. I remember the day I discovered Dr. Mom and Jane, my first women scientist blog discoveries. I was ecstatic. My commenters have seen me through some tough times (and some good ones) and I would say they have had a positive effect. It's nice to have cheerleaders and people to bring you back to reality.

5. Do you only open blogs of people who comment in your blog, or do you love to go and discover more by yourself.

I try to check out the blogs of everyone who comments, especially if they comment more than once. Most of those people get added to my extensive blogroll (on the right) but fewer make the bloglines cut. It's just a matter of time. When I want to read outside my feeds, I tend to start either with my blogroll or with a link from someone else's posts. Sometimes I will continue to cruise laterally but not so often. I would love to read more people's blogs, and I feel guilty that I don't get a chance to read all the posts of everyone who comments here, but if I was a religious reader I wouldn't get anything else done. If you want me to start consistently reading your blog, either comment obsessively or send me an email (on the right).

6. What does the visitor counter mean to you? Do you like having one in your blog?

Most of the time I just ignore my site counter and the reports it generates. It was helpful when I was a blog of note to track just how insanely many people were reading. It's nice to have a general sense of about how many people visit each day and that weekends are more lightly trafficked than the week. I'll admit to looking at the geographical distribution of readers - I love to see the hits from outside North America - and I periodically will scan for hits from here in Utopia. I haven't seen any yet, but if I did I would probably try to figure out who it was - friend or stranger. The google search strings are mostly predictable (as noted above) but interesting. But mostly I go for weeks without looking at the visitor counter and stats.

7. Did you try to imagine your fellow bloggers and give them real pictures?

I don't have physical images of bloggers who don't post pictures of themselves but I feel like I have mental portraits of people's personalities. Maybe you could call them generalizations or caricatures, but yes, I have them.

9. Do you think a bloggers society is isolated from the real world of interaction with events?

If I didn't interact with real world events, I wouldn't have anything to write about. In some ways blogging has kept me more connected with the real world because people post about politics and current events and because my women in science updates force me to keep an eye out for relevant happenings.

There have been days when I've felt like I spent too much time in the blog world but usually I am kicking myself for not doing more work rather than missing out on in-person social interactions.

10. Does criticism annoy you or do you feel it is a normal thing?

Of course it annoys me. But I don't get much of it here, which is kind of nice. And yes, it is a normal thing. One thing I am trying to get better at is handling criticism, both on-line and in-person. I tend to get defensive, and I am trying to remember to stop and reflect and then respond. This is much easier to do with commenters than with someone sitting next to you. One way that I am working at this is by responding to people's comments in the comment thread (so check back if you criticize or ask a question) rather than just ignoring or devoting a whole post to a comment.

13. What will happen to your blog after you die?

Right now, no one knows my username and password so it could just sit here indefinitely if I died suddenly. Actually, businessman could probably figure it out if it occurred to him - especially if he had access to this laptop. I intend to share access to my blog with someone when I get near my due date so that they (businessman? chica?) could update you all as soon as Mini arrives. But really, if I die or stop blogging, this site goes with it. Unless this were a team blog, I can't see any other future. I can't imagine someone replacing me as sciencewoman (like Dear Abby?).


Writer Chica said...

*I know what you mean about "putting on a pretty face" That gets tiring really fast.
*I read your blog cause it makes me feel like you are less far away and because I miss a lot of intellectual conversation wiping butts all the time.
*which inky circus post? the panda? I cried when I read about it on
*check your dashboard and see if you can get blogger in beta. There's lots of new features, like labels. I haven't had a chance to switch over yet.
*BusinessMan reads mine!? I had no idea. What a lurker. :)
*my name on your blogroll still links to my old site. any way to fix it?
*I'll update for you! I'd be honored!

brother said...

note that brother read your blog daily. I have a list of sites that I visit in the morning and this one is second on the list (note that your other blog is first). Then I get to the important stuff like comics and antarctica blogs.

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