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If your blogging experience is anything like mine has been, you might also be saying to yourself, ‘How do I really get to meet other bloggers of like-mind who have similar interests? I have found it to be pretty hard searching for blog topics using keywords at Google. The answer to this challenge may come down to an age-old process practiced for millennia: networking. ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,’ is what my parents always said when it came to business or finding employment. Now I’m learning that it’s the same in the Blogosphere.

I have come across many well-written blogs in my travels. However, quite a large percentage of them remain relatively hidden under the radar, unknown to most of humanity. When blogging, it’s such a great feeling to know that people are reading your thoughts and ideas. It’s even better when they leave comments hoping to start a dialogue. After participating in these ‘relationships’ it can be quite disheartening to have to go through ‘quiet’ periods with little (if any) interaction. So, how do we find people who write about similar topics? From my recent experiences I’d have to say that this desired networking is being done at blogging communities or blogrings, of which I’ve written about previously: ‘Xanga Blogrings: An attempt to find others like you.

Though I wrote about these communities a while back, I thought I’d still try and make it on my own. I’ve spent a lot of timing searching for bloggers to relate with, not to mention commenting at other blogs to try and start ‘blog friendships’. It’s been hard. Just like real life, you can’t make someone want to know you. There has to be a point of connection; a reason why you feel like sharing each other’s space. You have to feel like you’re on the same ‘wavelength’. Recently I had a chat with a friend who said that he’d recently joined a blogging community of sorts called Zaadz. I checked out his new site and then did some research on how these communities work. It’s pretty cool and I really think that this has to be one of the main ways in which bloggers are ‘meeting’ each other on the Internet.

At Zaadz, you have to create a profile of yourself. There are several categories including Interests, Heroes, Teachers, Books, Music, and Movies in which you fill out. Your answers automatically become hyper-links. Let’s say that I put one of my interests as being ‘meditation’. After the word ‘meditation’ has become a hyperlink, when I click on it, it will take me to a page of ‘Zaadsters’ photographs who all listed ‘meditation’ as an interest. There you go: It’s an automatic connection. You already know that you have at least one common interest with a whole group of people. Cool. There’s also an awesome photo facility on Zaadz. Check it out, and check out the Zaadz philosophy on their Home page as well as the ‘thinkarete.themanifesto’ written by the site’s CEO, both of which contain inspiring ideas that make this community look worthy.

Recently I was sent an email from someone asking me to join the blogging community at Blogmemes. A while back I joined a website called Mybloglog, but I’d completely forgotten about it. It seems (I assume) that this blogger found my profile there (which has a cool little picture of MiContent on it) when searching for keywords relating to their interests. All I had to do was click on the link in my email and I was part of the community. Unbeknownst to me, Mybloglog has thousands of blogging communities within its one site.

Today I went to my Mybloglog profile after doing a little searching around yesterday of bloggers that I was told had visited my blog, one of which had called themselves an ‘admirer’. Interesting. Today it seems that one of the bloggers I visited called BlogBloke has added me to his community at Techbloke. I don’t think I joined of my own volition. This could be a problem…shouldn’t I be the one to choose who I want to relate to? There’s also a means to ask others to be friends or contacts. If someone whose writing you like also likes your writing/content, they’ll agree to make a connection. I like this reciprocal approach.

This all seems pretty great but I have noticed that some people are part of hundreds of communities, let alone being friends with thousands of individual bloggers. This causes some suspicion on my behalf. What are the intentions of these ‘ultra-networkers’? It’s hard enough having a handful of friends in reality. I seriously doubt that anyone has time to consistently read thousands of blogs. Could this be a case of blog gold-digging or social-climbing? I’d like to communicate with a lot of people about subjects that interest me, but I don’t think I can relate to that many people. Then again, I can talk to just about any type of person when I ride the train.

Jesse S. Somer is going to go deeper into the Blogosphere by joining in blogging communities. Human beings are social creatures. Why did I ever think that my writing alone would create relationships?

Copyright MiContent.com.au

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If you’re reading this blog I expect that you’re a blog reader. That is of course taking into account that your car hasn’t crashed off of the Information Highway resulting in your sudden ‘turning up’ at this web address/homepage/address/home…and what a place to end up it is! Blogspoke: A writer/blogger who writes about writers/bloggers. So, here’s the big question: Have you ever commented on someone else’s blog? Why did you do it? (That’s two big questions…I snuck the other one in hoping you weren’t paying attention. That’s another big question: Are you really PAYING ATTENTION to what you’re reading right now? Are you only ‘half-reading’? Come on, put some effort in! It’s often hard for us humans to give full attention to anything that we’re doing isn’t it?

What makes you feel that sudden urge to make a comment on someone’s blog? Is it because you feel strongly about a topic? Is it because you really relate to what the blogger has written, and you feel the ‘need’ to let them know that you appreciate their thoughts? Is it because you want to take part in a conversation that is based around a topic that you feel passionate about, rather than the same old ‘small talk’ discussions around the water-cooler at work, or the pub afterwards? Could it be that you’re thinking of starting your own blog and you simply want to see what it feels like to have your own ‘voice’ up there on the computer screen, out there in the public domain?

It seems like I’ve gone from one big question to a multitude of more detailed specific ones. Oh well, I’ve seen some blogs that get hundreds of comments on each post; why does everybody suddenly feel the need to communicate with total strangers? Maybe we’re not strangers anymore? Maybe we never were? Maybe we’ve all been starving, even dying, to have our valuable individual opinions heard by someone, our peers, our society?

Have you got a few favourite bloggers that you read regularly? Have you ever commented on their sites? If you haven’t, how will they know you exist, and that you appreciate their efforts? How will they know that their blog is ‘needed’ by others? Not that it matters to all bloggers, but for me it’s good to know others are taking an interest. Are there other ways to let a blogger know that they are appreciated? I know some blogs ask for monetary contributions, that’s one way. What else? Come on and comment. Tell us why you comment.

Jesse S. Somer likes to comment on other people’s blogs to let them know that just about anyone in the world could be reading your words. It’s also fun to occasionally provoke someone by sharing a strongly felt opinion…but in a nice way of course, no need for insults in the Blogosphere. Is there?

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I’ve had some problems in the past with being too critical of others and myself, so I’ve been working at being more tolerant and compassionate. However, when it comes to reviewing blogs one has to put on the cap of the critic and tell the story of how you really think it goes. Thus far on Blogspoke I’ve mainly written quite positive reviews, choosing to steer away from negativity as I feel it usually does no good for the world. Today though, I wish to express my mixed feelings about a certain popular blog written by a movie/TV star named Zach Braff. Check out http://www.zachbraff.com/.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think Braff is quite a good actor. If you don’t know of his name offhand, he was in the popular film ‘Garden State’ (I liked the scene where his Grandma sews him a shirt out of excess material from her new curtains.), and plays a lead role in the TV series ‘Scrubs’ (My Mum watches it every week). The thing is, Zach Braff’s blog is quite popular, and to tell you the truth, I don’t think its popularity has anything to do with blogging.

When you go to Braff’s blog, right away you’re hit by the professional graphic design of his blog’s front page. Whoever designed it knew what they were doing. It’s even got cool little icons that move when you scroll your mouse over them, like an RSS blimp link that floats around and even has a shadow underneath it. Very inventive…but what are blogs about? I thought they were about content. Let’s look at Zach’s writing (I hope he doesn’t mind me talking about him on a first name basis). Well what have we got? Almost nothing. Yet each time he does splash a few words on the page telling readers how he’s sorry he hasn’t written in so long, or simply selling us on his new TV show or movie, he gets 500-1000 comments on each post. Why?

Braff was originally on the A-list at ‘Blogebrity’, that controversial list from a few years back that said ‘who was who’ in the Blogosphere. He currently ranks 2,720 out of over 55 million blogs on Technorati…Why is it so? He’s only posted 6 times (and a couple of them are 2-liners) since September 2006. I think I might’ve figured it out. I read some of the blog’s multitude of comments.

Unlike the ‘Dilbert Blog‘ whose creator Scott Adams-famous for his cartoon character, tells us what he thinks about the world, funny anecdotal stories, and never even mentions his work on the cartoon that made him famous, Braff’s blog seems to simply be a place for fans to tell him how great he is. He says a few lines about how awesome his new show will be, and literally bucket-loads of teenage sweethearts (I am assuming) tell him how much they like it, and how much they admire him. If you’re looking for interesting content and comments relating to it, this is definitely not the place to go.

So, is there anything wrong with this picture? I guess not. There aren’t any real rules to what a blog has to be like-it’s one of the newest forms of work/media/fun/hobby in the world today. No one said that blogs from famous people have to exhibit their personality. I just think it’s cool when they do. It’s nice to see the human face behind the red carpet façade.

Zach Braff may know how to act like a doctor on TV, but does that mean he can act like a blogger too?

Jesse S. Somer hasn’t got much of a pretty face or a fan base. However, the few comments on his blog have been related to the content.

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To comment or not to comment on a blog, what is its purpose? Well, lately I’ve found myself sitting on the sidelines, reading very funny forum-like dialogue between people who are simply commenting on posts from a blogger. I’ve been ‘hanging out’ at one of my favourite blog sites (‘Dilbert Blog‘) and it seems that the people who read this blog by Scott Adams are as weird as the man himself! Just looking back at the last three posts’ comments pages I was astounded to see upwards of 250 individual responses to this one person’s ‘text on a page’, some of which were as lengthy as the original post (Comments pages now seem to be a place for us to post ourselves!).

Ok, I have been talking a bit about the ‘Dilbertblog’ lately, but that’s not what I’m focussing on here. What’s remarkable is the fact that a small community is forming solely around one person’s ideas in their blog (many of the names commenting after each post are the same). After looking at several of the newest posts I noticed that chronologically, comments are like blog posts themselves, being displayed from newest to oldest. This I find a little disconcerting, as each comment is usually related to the one before it, so if you want to get the whole gist of a situation, really you have to go to the bottom of the list and work your way back up to the top (Unfortunately I haven’t done this, so I’ve learnt the strange art of discerning a topic of conversation by going backwards in time…) J

Check out these fairly recent Dilbert Blog comments.

This was supposedly one of the only times that Scott Adams blogged on a Sunday (normally he takes a well-earned break), and so he decided to try and write something fairly serious, as opposed to his normal humorous content. The main idea was, ‘Media never gives me the context I want.’, and he drew upon many different ideas and topics ranging from the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust, to nuclear power vs. fossil fuels in Iran, to the treatment of Jews in there…You should see how many opinions, ideas, and facts sprouted up from his loyal, and some obviously newly-inspired readers! Little mini-conversations come out between people who’ve read other’s responses and who greatly disagree or agree with each other.

The comments are not all positive of course. A lot of what Adams blogs about is contentious (one of the reasons he’s become so popular!?-take a note), as was found in this Dilbert Blog comments page from an older post that has produced a recurring theme based around whether or not freewill exists. People seem very passionate about this subject, and it showed that when the writer took on a difficult topic, every Tom, Dick, and Harry wanted to get their word in, whether it was emerging from intellectual discourse, fundamentalist religion, or the usual lowest-common-denominator slinging of abuse. These nearly 400 comments caused Adams to write several more posts about the subject, like this Dilbert Blog article which again received 350 responses. The readers thus took on an interactive role in what was to be produced in the blog. It was really great to hear all of the different and widely varied perspectives on a subject (even though some are more than a little bit on the comical side-some purposeful in intent, others unaware of their own ridiculousness). Get commenting people!

Jesse S. Somer believes that if we all write from our heart about what’s important to us, and others relate through comments, trackbacks, and emails; intelligence, wisdom, creativity, and even love will be transferred throughout the world like never before.

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I heard about well-established blogging organization Xanga a long time ago, but their concept of ‘Blogrings’ has only just recently entered into my field of vision. What is a Blogring? By design, it is an attempt to bring people who have specific interests together into groups where they can write about their chosen fields. OK, let me give you an example. There are many categories that your blog could fit into, anything from ‘Family and Home’, to ‘Religion and Beliefs’, or ‘Business and Finance’ could be where you decide to classify your writing. For some, I guess this kind of grouping could even help you to keep your blog more singly focused (people appreciate someone who sticks to one topic).

For the purpose of this review I decided to check out some of the blogs in an area that interests me, ‘Arts and Humanities’. The next step was to hone in even further by choosing a subcategory from such titles as ‘Architecture’, ‘Dancing’, or ‘Photography’, to name but a few. I chose ‘Writing’ for obvious reasons-I love reading and writing! So, what happened next? I was taken to a page with a list of Blogrings, their titles, information on how long they’d existed for, and on how many individual bloggers belonged to each. In the ‘Writing’ section some of the 7,187 Blogrings had over 2,000 active blogging members in each group, pretty impressive stuff! My dream of being able to connect with other people who love words and their often-secretive meanings was slowly becoming more of a reality.

Let me give you an idea of how the Blogring groups are presented. Some are very basic in their description like ‘Imagination unlimited’ (757 members) which simply states, ‘Join here if you have unlimited imagination.’ Whereas others are more elaborate and animated in their focus like ‘A perfect Ending’ (240 bloggers) whose Blogring creator candidly informs, ‘Do you like happy endings? I do. I think that everyone should live happily ever after, but the problem is that most don’t. So what’s the solution? Got any ideas? Let’s get together and solve all this. We want a Happy Ending to everyone’s problems, and By GOD – We’re gonna have it.’

Some Blogring creators obviously take an active role in deciding whether or not you are deemed fit enough to belong in their group. Hmmm. is this elitism? Quality control? Is this fair? Do they alone judge you, or is it the whole group? The ‘Spontaneous Writer’ group (303 people) creator says, ‘For the people whose xangas are of short stories, poems, articles, theories… I’m filtering applicants/members who do not belong in this blogring so if your xanga is mostly about your day, I will NOT accept you. If you actually write, but of silly love poems about why this boy does not love you or that you’re “just another girl”… Please. But other than that, I’m open to all applicants, so don’t feel intimidated, really!’ Are you intimidated?

I liked the sound of the Blogring called, ‘Writing reality’ (761 members). Their motto is, ‘We weave reality into words through our writing of it. If you love the art of writing in any way, shape, or form… you’re home.’ After reading a few blogs I decided to sign up to see what else the Blogring construct can offer. Well, they ask you for your Instant Messenger and email addresses so I assume that you can communicate directly with people in your Blogring, which is an automatic plus for those of you who’ve been writing but haven’t had many comments or interactions with other people.

I also found that there are some safety measures put into place, as I was unable to view some of the blogs. They were ‘locked’. I expect this is because some bloggers don’t want just any person on the Internet to read their content, possibly saving it solely for their friends or the members of their Blogring.

So, if you’re into blogging about animal rights, building model cars, small businesses, or marital relationships, it might be time to join a group of your fellow humans who are ready and willing to share and learn from one another.

Jesse S. Somer wonders if there could be a ‘Lord of the Blogrings’, and if so, are they short and hairy, spending much of their time blogging about sitting out in the fields peacefully smoking a pipe and drinking an ale?

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