Responsibility or Not? That is the Question.

So, I began this afternoon searching for a plugin to add links to each post. Unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t have one yet except for Matt’s Asides, which I haven’t tried yet, but will shortly. While searching, I came upon again. I used to frequent this blog but slowed down because… who the crap cares? I mean, I guess he’s quick with his postings, and he does give fresh news and such. Some of it is interesting but most of it is completely random, much like this blog and so many others.

We (yes, I’m putting my non-popular blog in the same category as Kottke’s) who post random musings don’t have a designated topic of discussion like Gizmodo. We just post as we see fit whatever interests us at the time. So, does that mean that we have a responsibility to the public to post fresh content, or post regularly? At this point, I’d have to argue that we don’t have a responsibility. But, I would agree with many who posit to update infrequently is to ignore your visitors’ needs (wants). In one sense, I agree. But I think it really comes down to why we blog in the first place. It’s much like what my high school english prof told me about poetry. “There are two kinds of poetry; The kind that is for you, the writer, and the kind that is for everyone else, the readers.” He went on to say that the kind you write for yourself is usually used to get your ideas or feelings out. It needs no interpretation. It places no requirements or expectations on the reader. In fact, the type of poetry that is written for and by you really has no place in the public sphere to be criticized or disected. The type of poetry that is written for the readers is where you have responsibility and must live up to (or place upon the readers) expectations of possible interpretations. You may need to explain more than you do, or rewrite it so that the reason can be found through close examination (whether it be examination of that particular post/writing/poem/etc alone or in combination with the author’s lifestyle, personality, history, and other writings and actions). This type of writing takes into consideration the reader where as the first kind does not. I believe I write for myself, and not for the readers.

Why would anyone put writing intended for themselves in the public sphere anyway? And, why would one invite comments from the public on their writings as well? Answering the first question is a matter of 1) simplicity and 2) current format. I chose the easiest route (considering my choice of jobs, hobbies, and interests) for journaling. It just happened to be public. Yes, I could make it private by locking it down with a username/password or something. However, although I write for my own satisfaction, I don’t mind anyone else reading them yet. To answer the second question though, I really don’t know why I allow comments or criticisms to be publicized along with the posts. Perhaps I’m just vain and want to see that someone cares about me. I don’t think so, there’s other ways to find out if people visit the site regularly. I think it might be because I like to connect with the people who share like (or sometimes even contradicting) viewpoints, humor, insights, and lifestyles.

So, do I have a responsibility to post? In my head, I hear a resounding “No.” Then again, maybe that’s the Doritos coming back up after lunch.

Nate Ritter lives in the Pacific Northwest (U.S.), popularized the #hashtag and creates web applications for a living. He also does miles and point hacking to enable cheap travel for his family. More here →

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