July 18, 2004
On how Michael Jennings educates himself by blogging and on why blogging got (and things in general get) so popular

I have been blogging elsewhere today (having finally done a Samizdata review of the Bill Bryson book I've been going on about here and there) and will be partying later, so just quick posting, in the form of an observation from Michael Jennings, with whom I took afternoon coffee last Friday.

He said, appropos this idea of blogging as self education, that it has been applying recently to him. He has found himself becoming one of those people who puts together bespoke computers for people, and he's been doing occasional postings about this kind of thing. Mostly, he say, he does this for his own benefit, to arrange his own thoughts. If others want to read it, fine, and if they want to attach helpful comments, that's helpful. But his main purpose is as an aid to his own thought processes.

Much of what I stick up here is done in a similar spirit. And I'm sure that other bloggers do the same.

However, the fact that others might be interested too does make a difference to how well you do this sort of thing, which of course means that blogging may (for show-offs) be a far better aid to self-education than mere note taking. If others are going to see what you put, you make more of an effort. And those helpful comments can be very helpful indeed.

There are two kinds of things in the world. There are the things that catch on because of one vitally brilliant thing that they do which nothing else can do. And then there are the things that catch on because … well, nobody quite knows why. They don't seem to be doing any one thing supremely well which has never been done before, yet still they spread like an ultra-popular pop song. It's because they bundle together lots of solutions, I think. Blogs do this. Blogs do that. And they do this, and that. And that. Which means lots of people start them, and like them, and read other blogs, which means they do that thing even better than you at first might have thought,… blah blah blah. Blogging as self-education is just one of the ingredients in this complicated mix.

And that's all here for today. Have a nice rest of it.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 03:07 PM
Category: Blogging