We’re all blog­gers these days, aren’t we?  Writ­ing, con­sum­ing, they’ve become a part of the fab­ric of our rou­tine infor­ma­tion gath­er­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion.  The phenomena’s become an easy filler arti­cle for the week­end papers.  Taken over from the man­u­script in the bot­tom drawer.  Hasn’t it?  Work we want to do, so we just do it?  As a soci­ol­o­gist of work, both paid and unpaid, blog­ging holds a spe­cial allure.  And in the spirit of ethnog­ra­phy – or some­thing like that – hav­ing become a part of the blog­ging com­mu­nity over the past year, I’m just start­ing to get an idea of the labour invested in these liv­ing doc­u­ments so often dis­missed as hob­bies, van­ity projects.

Even the word blog­ging is mis­lead­ing, imply­ing a sin­gle type of writ­ing, when it runs the gamut from hob­by­ists, to pro­fes­sion­als writ­ing to pro­mote or com­ple­ment their work, come­di­ans, con­fes­sion­als, cre­ative, com­mer­cial blog­gers and pro­fes­sional blog­gers – those elu­sive writ­ers who have turned it into a prof­itable career sta­tus; a frac­tion of the esti­mated 152 mil­lion blogs out there (Gal­lie, 2013).  It’s a type of work that soci­ol­ogy can’t ignore – lit­tered with exam­ples of career tran­si­tions, cul­tural resis­tance, and some of the most cre­ative re-imaginings of work that I’ve ever seen.  Here we have exam­ples of train­ing and skills devel­op­ment, net­work­ing and work­place rela­tions, the spa­tial­ity of work­ing, and entre­pre­neurism.  But also of col­lab­o­ra­tion and men­tor­ing, care and emo­tion work – aspects of blog­ging that are neglected, to the loss of sociology.

Blog­gers are not just writ­ers, they are website-developers, audience-builders, SEO experts, coun­sel­lors and peer review­ers, and they move through these sta­tuses flu­idly and with­out need for job descrip­tion, or very often pay­ment.  As their income increases, so too their blog­ging work changes and evolves.  It might focus on a niche, like review­ing for exam­ple, and become less of a per­sonal doc­u­ment.  And then there is the blur­ring of the bound­aries between work and home – rare is the blog­ger who isn’t tin­ker­ing with their blog as an ongo­ing, end­less project; build­ing a social media pres­ence that extends far beyond their blog; com­ment­ing on blogs late into the night; delv­ing into and out of posts in con­struc­tion; check­ing their phones for sta­tis­tics; check­ing out sto­ries and new ideas to gen­er­ate or under­pin new posts.

It is a dif­fer­ent expe­ri­ence of writ­ing – not the soli­tary lit­er­ary writ­ing, nor too the aca­d­e­mic writ­ing where toiled-upon words are sub­ject to crit­i­cal review, redraft­ing and redraft­ing.  Not so much review, as labour in dia­logue.  Because blog­gers are read­ers as much as they are writ­ers, and ICT has changed the way we con­sume, and trans­mit that con­sump­tion.  Blog­ging is writ­ing in process, a shak­ing of the self and allow­ing still-forming ideas to be released and for a dia­logue to develop.  The unfin­ished, a nar­ra­tive.  Writ­ing as exer­cise, writ­ing to be heard, writ­ing with a pur­pose, writ­ing to give wings to projects to fly out into the world.  It seems exper­i­men­tal and excit­ing, this diver­sity of work prac­tices.  If the con­tent stops flow­ing the blog falls silent, the URL a foot­print doc­u­ment­ing labour past.

 

Ref­er­ence

Gal­lie, B. (2013). How many blogs are on the inter­net? Avail­able: http://www.wpvirtuoso.com/how-many-blogs-are-on-the-internet/.