Tuesday, October 30, 2012

What am I doing here?

Nothing like an ambiguous title for a post, is there?

I've been blogging since May '08 (with occasional breaks to recharge, figuratively, the batteries, etc.). Periodically I ask myself why I am doing it, and as we approach the end of another calendar year, and as I'm planning to take another of my breaks once the dust from the election settles (from around Nov. 12, say, through Dec. 31 at least), it seems to be a good time to pose the question again. Except usually I pose it just to myself, not to anyone who happens to be reading.

The question, unfortunately, doesn't have a very satisfactory answer. My closest relatives don't usually read this blog and nor, with a couple of highly valued exceptions, do my friends (I mean my non-virtual, non-online friends, not that there is a huge number of them but I do have some, friends from the past and whatnot). So I'm not blogging for my relatives and friends. I'm also not blogging to keep the functional equivalent of a personal diary or journal: to me that implies a degree of privacy, and even though very few people may read a post here, in theory anyone with an internet connection can. I'm not blogging to disseminate or promote my own academic or scholarly work (which is, at the moment, nonexistent), which is an honorable motive for some other blogs, or to push a particular political agenda (though I'm not shy about expressing my political views). So why does a low-traffic blog with no clear, precisely focused mission or purpose keep going? Why have I done this for more than four years now? I suppose I must find something slightly intoxicating, for lack of a better word, about having a platform (and this is essentially the only one I have: I'm not on Twitter or Facebook or Tumblr). Every time I think about stopping, I find myself not stopping. Sometimes I say posting is going to be light and it turns out not to be. What gives? As I say, I don't have a very good answer.

As far as I can tell, there are roughly three groups of people who find their way here. This is not an exhaustive categorization but it will do. First, there is a very small group of regular or semi-regular readers, most of whom I don't know and most of whom never leave comments, so I don't even know for sure why they are regular readers (btw, it's very easy, technically, to comment here, I've even considered disabling the captcha but haven't taken the time to figure out how to do it). [clarification: I'm glad to have these readers, I'd just like a better sense of what's attracting them to the blog and perhaps what they'd like to see more or less of.]  Second, there are people who end up at a particular post as a result of typing something into Google or another search engine (or, occasionally, who come via Blogger). Third, there are people who come here, or follow a link here, when I post something having to do with academic debates or discussions in IR. (And I suppose there is some overlap among the three groups.) A solid average weekday at this blog sees maybe 15 'unique' visitors, a good day might see 25 or so, and anything much above that, although it does happen from time to time, counts as a red-letter day (do people still use that expression?).

So I'm obviously not blogging to keep satisfying the demand of a large, established readership for material, since there is no large readership here. So again: what am I doing here? I'm not really sure. But, for the moment, I'm still here.

P.s. As I said in comments on an earlier post, my thoughts now are with those in New York, New Jersey and elsewhere coping with power outages (I have a friend in New Jersey in that situation) and worse. Luckily and contrary to my expectations, the power stayed on where I am, for which the local utility (Pepco) must be given some credit.

No comments: