Different motivations for blogging

Roger von Oech recently added a comment on his blog that got me thinking:

Tom: Thanks for your comments. You do "taxonomy" well. It would be interesting to see your understanding of the various types of blogs, their communities, and their aims and uses.

"One taxonomy coming right up". Thanks for asking, Roger! Having been blogging since last August, and subscribing to 107 feeds currently, I've developed a taxonomy of four different kinds of blogs, postings, bloggers and subscribers. The next post will got into more detail. In this introduction, I'll explore our differing motivations for blogging.

Distraction blogging: Sometimes our motives are purely self indulgent. "It's all about me". We are inherently narcissistic and alarming to the observers of social media. We are driven to blog for selfish reasons by our troubled situation. Our "real life" is bringing us down or trapping us in oppressive obligations. I explored these motivations in my post about the popularity of Twitter.

Archive blogging: Sometimes we are motivated by our own expertise and continuing, passionate pursuit of those subject areas. We want to share what we know in ways that help other people. We have found our expertise functions as solutions and effective strategies in many contexts. We build up an archive of our wisdom and watch it get searched long after we wrote the postings. We offer our gifts generously and unilaterally for the good of anyone who can benefit from them.

Conversation blogging: Often our motives are reciprocal. We get by giving. Our sharing comes back around. We are growing, changing, learning and creating in the process of giving. Mutual benefits abound. Everyone involved is affected by our exchanges and collaborative explorations.

Democratic blogging: Our motives may be political and grounded in the realities of particular circumstances. By blogging, changes are occurring in the social dynamics, distribution of power and control of outcomes. We are motivated by our envisioned future and the signs of progress in that direction.

Different motives for blogging yield different impacts on the rest of us. Some blogs reflect a consistent motive while others change character often. There are some indications of bloggers evolving from base motivations to higher motives. These possible progressions lend to blogs making bigger and better differences in the world.

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  1. Nice post, Tom.

    How would you characterize "Grow Change Learn"? How about the blogs in your blogroll? Where do they fall?

    BTW: I've linked to you in my post:

  2. Thanks for creating a post about all this on your blog and linking back here! To answer your question, this blog seems mostly conversational to me. The value seems reciprocal. I am getting so much back by putting these words out there. My blogroll is filled with bloggers that inspire me to reflect deeper, consider more options and expand my horizons. They are all candidates for getting quoted on my blog or comments from me on theirs.

    My other blog, Clues to the College Blues, is an Archive Blog. It has no real blogroll. I have not found other blogs that overlap with my mission, where I could comment on their blogs or quote them on mine. The blog is widely read and the archive is searched every week, but I suspect the readership is not blogging.

  3. Interesting post, Tom. Thinking of my own blog, I don't think it fits neatly into an one category. I think it is mostly a combination of Archive & Conversational with a little Democratic thrown in. While such label are interesting, don't you think that personal motivations can be more complex?

  4. James: Thanks for your comment and question. You're so right that motivations to blog are far more complex than this taxonomy of four categories. This approach does not address wanting to monetize a blog, get job/book offers from blogging or credential oneself for consulting/speaking gigs. I'm proposing this as a lens to look at other phenomena, not to thoroughly examine motivations. Some of the big questions I'm considering include:

    What effects does blogging have on other blogs/bloggers, as well as larger contexts?
    How do those effects vary with different kinds of blogs, motives of bloggers and uses made of blogs by readers/subscribers?
    What potentials are there, yet to be realized, in those uses and effects of blogging?
    What are the sequential steps to grow into those fully-realized potentials?

    My glimpses of the fully realized potential of blogs suggest that all four categories come into play beneficially. Your own experience with your blog being a little of all four may be a sign of your being in the process of "getting it together" and avoiding extremes, sticking points, or fixations in your approach to blogging.

  5. there can be overlapping motivation too

  6. These comments have been invaluable to me as is this whole site. I thank you for your comment.

  7. Thanks for expressing your gratitude. It's wonderful to know this post and my blog are still making a difference.


  8. how do you differentiate learning from growing? :)

  9. Thanks for the question Pierre. I use growing, changing and creating as different ways to say what learning is. They are synonymous when the word "learning" is used as a verb. However, when "learning" gets used as a noun, then "growing" serves as a distinction, wake up call and critique of "learning" as a thing. When growing is not happening, it's likely that useful facts are getting accumulated, retention is problematic, motivations are lacking, self-expression is systemically stifled, unique voices & viewpoints have been dismissed while conformity gets awarded prizes.