Posted by: Tony Carson | 23 October, 2009

Is blogging the equivalent of whittling?

“Not too many years ago when we pondered the great wonder of it all, we often whittled wood.

“Is blogging mental whittling? That’s my take. Whittling reaches the same number of people as blogging (0) but at least it provides a fire starter. Is that what blogging is all about? Starting fires?”

A guy asked me that in an email the other day.

I answered in a kind of stream of consciousness:

Blogging is self-serving, only a tiny few have an audience. But it is a good way to think through issues, however limply; it’s a great way to get engaged with an issue/argument and stay engaged; it can fire up the juices; it’s a great way to practise your writing skills and get better at developing arguments. By blogging you tend to look at what you read more critically — do I agree with that? what have I got to add, subtract from it? There’s a lot to recommend it. But only as a kind of personal discipline. In fact, our post has had over 150,000 viewers. But so what? Only a very few of them contributed anything. I guess it’s kind of like whittling in that it kills time while it shucks the superfluous from your argument. To me, blogging is all about thinking — which always reveals the great limitation of your depth, but all writing does that. Frankly, I blog for the fun of it. Oh, and it’s a challenge, too, a challenge to push yourself to try and think through an issue. I have a whole list of them I want to address over time … if I can get bothered.

But, on second thought, blogging can serve a marginally higher purpose. Blogging is a little like sending a letter to the editor or to your political representative: it adds yet another tiny voice to the cacophony and sometimes these voices can unit and grow into a critical mass that inspires constructive change.

So, ya, blogging is a lot like whittling. Some times you create something but most of the time you’re just shucking away the excess to find what’s there. And like with whittling, what you end up with ain’t always pretty.

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