Tuesday, June 19, 2007

What makes a Sri Lankan Blogger?

In blogging terms I feel like a bit of an elder statesman these days. Not that I'm wise or have a readership of millions, or even hundreds to be honest, just that I've been doing these posts on and off for about fifteen months now. I have always fancied Hillary Clinton too, but I'll keep that to myself.

And fifteen months in the blogosphere, particularly the Sri Lankan blogosphere, feels like about ten years in the outside world. I'm one of those types who tries to look at most things as learning experiences, I do firmly believe that there are positives in everything we go through and those positives are the things we should actively seek out. A great big whopper of a positive, maybe even a double whopper with cheese, that I have got from blogging is that I think about things that I previously wouldn't have.

One of the biggest lessons I've learned from the whole blogging thing is that there are a million different types of people who write a blog, even amongst this relatively small Sri Lankan blogosphere. I was talking to a friend only today about the whole blogging phenomenon, I was talking to my academic brother the other day about it too. They have two quite different viewpoints, yet with similarities.

The thing I have come across a lot is so many people who view blogging as a sort of "saddo" activity, something that geeks do, as opposed to Greeks, fat ones with too much make up. I guess it's true that some geeks blog, but that doesn't mean that all bloggers are geeks. Those school Venn diagrams are useful at last! There's a common perception that us bloggers don't really have lives, we just write about them.

During my blog time I've met some people who I'd happily consider as great friends, who would hopefully think of me as a friend of sorts. I shan't give names as I don't want to embarass him, sorry them. In reality all these people are different with a vast array of personalities and characteristics. As the late Robert Palmer would have said there's every kind of people there. There are exceptions though.

I've noticed a distinct lack of bloggers who are wholly computer illiterate, there are only a few who don't own a computer and none at all who have no access to a computer whatsoever. Other than that we're all out there. There are young up and coming medical types who'll go on to run the world, at least the medical side of it. There are successful businesspeople, failing musicians, successful musicians and failed businesspeople. There are NGOs, MBEs, VSOs and UTIs. The more astute will know that a UTI is actually the acronym for a urinary tract infection, but I couldn't think of another three letter one for a type of person. I so nearly got away with it too.

But I wonder what the common characteristics are. What are those factors shared by the members of the Sri Lankan blogosphere?

Clearly nationality isn't one. There are people of all nations who I would consider to be part of the SL blogging community. But I wonder if you feel the same, perhaps you think that one must be Sri Lankan to be a Sri Lankan blogger. My view on it is that the SL bloggers share an interest in Sri Lanka, whether that is because of nationality or location or heritage it doesn't matter. To get listed on Kottu a blog must class as

"Being ‘Sri Lankan’, as in based in or covering Sri Lankan experiences".

There are some other technical things about feeding and the like but the main thing I assume is the Sri Lankan side.

To get on Achcharu there's actually a load of criteria but the one that I consider as relevant in this context is:

"You must either reside in Sri Lanka, be Sri Lankan or have some other means of connecting with Sri Lankan audiences - Very vague and ultimately not an important requirement but it's worth saying."

So it would appear that both Drac and Indi, the indisputed overlords of the SL blogosphere share the opinion that a Sri Lankan blog isn't strictly about nationality.

Age, race, religion and sexuality don't even enter the equation. But, I've observed an interesting thing here.

The SL blogosphere and its blogs is quite open about age, race and religion. Bloggers are happy to talk about their life and relate their age or say things that would give people an idea of their age. People like Indyana, Java and myself are quite happy to talk about the experiences we have had, of kids, marriage and other grown up stuff. One of my favourite posts of all time was the one when Java related his feelings and thoughts about the invention of the wheel and how it changed his life. Up until that point his car had always felt a bit bumpy, slow and crap round corners.

Other fellows happily talk and discuss their race or their religion without any attempt to keep them from public view. There are Tamils, Sinhalese, Christians and Buddhists and Muslims out there, most of whom are content to talk about the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka or aspects of their faith.

But I have yet to read a Sri Lankan blog written by a gay person. Now, I realise that there may be many and I just don't know that the blogger is gay, I know that Sri Lanka has laws and attitudes about homosexuality that wouldn't exactly go down well in the Netherlands. That in itself may be a big reason why the average gay SL blogger doesn't want to write about it. And, also if you leave a comment on this post saying that "so and so, the blogger, is gay" I won't publish it. I really don't care and I don't want to out anyone. It just intrigues me that there aren't any SL bloggers who talk about their homeosexual lifestyle in the way I ramble on about drumming or Child of 25 chats about photography.

So age, race, religion and sexuality aren't common characteristics. I say that with the assumption that there are SL bloggers of all fifteen sexualities out there, even though I don't know for sure.

The only single characteristic I can see that we have in common is some sort of need for recognition. Perhaps we're all personality types who would class recognition high on our list of motivators. Perhaps we are attention seekers, more so than the average person. Do we all have a narcissistic side?

And is there a type of person who really does have a blog but who doesn't care at all about readership levels? I often say that I'm not bothered about my volume of readers, that I just do it for myself, but it defies logic and reason. If that were the case then surely I'd just write stuff and never publish it. If strikes me as an oxymoron. A blogger who has no regard for readership surely can't exist.

What thinkest du?


cerno said...

You left out bloggers without a blog ;)

Specifically as David Blacker who has become a fixture on Indi's site.

He also SEEMS to be an author on groundviews (I'm assuming recklessly that its the same entity).

btw, who/what are MBEs, VSOs?

ILA (I Love Acronyms)

Java Jones said...

Wheel? Is dat somting to do wit 'wheeler'? An what you be doin rummagin in dem closets maaan?

drac said...

Speaking for myself, the raw numbers are irrelevant and probably inaccurate. A regular reader is worth "more" than someone who stumbled onto your blog looking for oh err.. "Sri Lankan sexy girls and aunties". Unless you're writing a blog about err.. clippered ladies, in which case I have probably misjudged your target audience. (*snigger*)

I care about the readership in the sense of being gratified when people find something I write informative or useful. Or even funny, rare as those occurences may be. That's not a universal wish for all entries. Sometimes I just write to vent. Or to document things for myself.

As a tangential supporting point - not everyone wants to be publicly visible on a blog aggregator. I include myself in that category. If bloggers only cared about raw numbers of readership, surely such a stance would inexplicable as well?

Hair splitting semantics, some people use blogging software for convenience. It beats carrying around a pen and paper. It's online, they don't need to save it locally or worry about backups, it has limited (or no) readership - but it's still a blog. Of course, you wouldn't hear of such journals nor find them on your local aggregator - which they'd argue is precisely the point.

Another small tangent, I write a blog elsewhere which is very very focused towards a niche technical area. It's only read by random stumblers and by other people who share that specific niche interest. The numbers reading are pretty unimportant. Most random visitors would find the material in there extremely boring, just like my normal blog. It's more like "who's reading" - I've given (and received) lots of help from that small-knit community of readers over the years. I'm absolutely certain that no one in that other place knows (or cares) about my nationality, gender, religion or anything else. It's simply ... irrelevant; as I personally believe it should be online.

Anonymous said...

>as opposed to Greeks, fat ones with too much make up

I hope you are not referring to Koluu, bcos if you are I'll have to defend my fellow "homian".

Voice in Colombo said...

Froget about the nasty arguments exchnaged recently, between you and me on "politics" related issue; but I have to appreciate you for posting this masterpiece! If I used the most common way of appreciating a blog post, i would say "Great Post!" to this one.

//My view on it is that the SL bloggers share an interest in Sri Lanka, whether that is because of nationality or location or heritage it doesn't matter.\\

I'm all in agreement with this. It's not the nationality, race, politics or anything. It's the common interest. Every one who is part of SLBC (Not "Sri Lanla B'casting Corp." I meant, "Sri Lanka Blogging Community") shares a "common interest" about Sri Lanka.

I was a person who always believd, the SLBC should have more variety. And, I always tried to fill some "gaps" left by most bloggers on SLBC (I don't know how much I was succesful. That's not a problem to me). Froget about the gay bloggers, do we have people to represent all layers of the society? 99% of the Sri Lankans don't even know what is blogging. This has to go main stream very soon. I see, blogging as the "Technologie's gift, to mankind to run their own media empires". I don't have money and time to run a TV station or a newspaper. But with this free tool, I speak out to atleast few hundred people every day! Isn't it amazing for a normal citizen like me?

Again, I should say it's a great post. Great insight.

Say "right" to the "right thing" and "wrong" to the "wrong thing". No predjudices. That's Voice in Colombo :-)

Voice in Colombo said...

BTW, I'm not too sure about, to which 3 letter category I belong, according to your definitions. For sure, it's not NGO.

Anonymous said...

What about annoynimous bloggers who are obsessed with Sarongs. BTW RD how was Muse ?

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Cerno - An MBE is a Member of the British Empire, one of those awards given out to people who do "good things" for Britain. VSO is a charity that works through volunteers to fight worldwide poverty. People like Jules and Beatrice work (or did) in SL for VSO. I don't think they're MBEs though!

Drac - It's reassuring to know it's not just me who gets a lot of hits from people searching for "Sri Lankan sexy girls and Aunties". I think most would agree about "regular readers" too. It's always nice to get comments from people that I know as regulars.

Java - I couldn't resist rummaging when you popped out that time.

Anon - You've reminded me of a photograph I saw recently, can't recollect exactly where.

VIC - Thanks for the nice words. Whilst we don't necessarily agree on politics it's nice to know we can have other things in common. I share your wonder at the marvels at blogging. The post stemmed from a conversation I had with a friend in which I was trying to explain why I blog. I agree that the concept of "normal" people like me being able to write stuff and put it out for anyone to read, without having to get a publisher and aiming to be commercially successful, is a fascinating concept. Perhaps "VIC" should be a 3 letter code on its own just for you!

Anon - Superfuckingbrilliant - Possibly the best gig I've seen. Incredible that a 3 piece can appear so big. I'll probably do a post on it later too. Anonymous commenters obsessed with sarongs are lways welcome around here.

Darwin said...

I think I blog mostly to vent and the rest of the time I do it to document my personal life or as commentary on important issues such as Britney Shears. It's easier than writing a journal or something. TBH I don't really care who reads it and who doesn't, I've never blogged for an audience and I don't think I will start anytime soon. It's a bonus when people find my posts funny, helpful, relevant, and of course I like the feedback I get by way of the comments -but that's not my main objective when it comes to blogging. Regarding the nationality issue, when I first started I think I was relavtively unknown around the SL blogosphere, but now that's not quite the case. Either way I don't consider myself a niche blogger like that, I don't want to pigeonhole myself. I'm just a blogger who happens to be Sri Lankan.

Java Jones said...

Okay maaan, dat does it! She will be waitin on yo ass at dat airport an will take yo by da wrist (yo wanna keep on wit dat mediocre drummin?)wit her iron grip an lead yo ass to dat van. An who know den what be happenin to yo ass!

SpectralCentroid said...

I did use to monitor traffic trends when I started off, but grew out of it soon. Didn't even inculde stat monitoring code in the template when I upgraded to new blogger. I feel more gratified with comments and mails.

Anonymous said...

I,m a Blogger.My Blog is,

sl-kellek said...

Just to let U know that A srilankan girl (me) has started a blog about gay life as a srilankan girl..

I just started writing it few days ago..hope to continue it ..