I've recently been thinking about the concept of following many blogs. I was worried that if I allowed myself to follow lots of people then I would eventually end up swamped by posts I wouldn't have time to read nor the heart to skip. Brandon recently answered my own post with a good point and inspired me to allow myself to explore more.
I spent a couple of days just digging through the blogosphere, and as always was amazed by the diversity I found. I also realized some important things:
- What I write is strongly influenced by what I read. Not only in content but also in style.
- There's no real guideline in how to create posts. There's no expectations you need to fulfill, no boxes you need to check. There's nothing you need to do besides doing whatever you want.
- I tend to solidify the way I write. In other words, I tend to think there is a correct and incorrect way for me to write posts. This is a direct contradiction of the point above, and is ultimately a harmful illusion because it keeps me from exploring different styles and topics!
I think all of these (except for point 1, which is just my personality) stem from the fact that I'm currently reading too few things, most of which share a certain common topology. There are other people out there, writing wonderful things in exciting new ways, and I just don't know about them.
Up until now I've been reading almost exclusively people that have their blog on Bearblog. They're all awesome and interesting in their own right, but if we think about it in terms of statistics then we could say my distribution is strongly skewed towards the sort of people that have a Bearblog in the first place.
I think a good place to find new people to follow is by checking out the blogrolls of the people I currently like, and pick some from there. Sure, it's not a perfectly random sample but I think it should be good enough to start with.
I feel bad saying the word follow. It almost sounds like I'm building some sort of number-objective-social-media-crap. It also has the implication of going behind, trailing behind, which I've always found unsatisfactory. I think a better term would be to keep up with someone you respect. But I can't think of a way to say this that sounds good.
After all, that's what you do when you've been reading someone's posts for a while. You get to know them, and you respect them as individuals. I keep coming back to the blogs I like to keep up with because I've found I appreciate and respect the authors, and like to know their opinions on stuff.
Even if sometimes I don't agree with said opinions I always find them useful because they help me find out what my own opinions are, or introduce me to new ideas or ways of looking at things that I hadn't considered before.
Since I started this blog I've spent a considerable amount of time thinking about how to be more authentic. I've usually held to the idea that the least blogs I read, the easier it would be since I'll have less external influence. But now I realize this is wrong. The only way to know who you really are is by, paradoxically, reading a lot, reading so much that the gradations in what you like and dislike help you find yourself.