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To Be or Not To Be … Connected

In response to Seán Cooke’s recent experiment, Rajiv opens an interesting discussion on blogging and hyperconnectivity on his blog Rajiv Writes.  He notes that “that Seán’s conclusions assume that all of us belong or want to belong to something called blogosphere and seek a community through an interconnectedness of blogs, very much like people on Facebook, MySpace etc. But this is NOT true for all bloggers.”  I wrote a rather lengthy comment to his post and realized (as I often do when my comments run more than a few sentences) that I need to write an actual blog post.

I have been thinking about the blogging community and what Rajiv calls “hyperconnectivity” quite a bit lately, in large part due to Seán’s experiment.  I agree with Rajiv that not all bloggers want to have a community:  some either blog only for a small select group or they keep their blog private.  WordPress and other blogging platforms are very easy to use as well as free and can be a great way to create a repository for one’s writing without necessarily sharing it with the world.  They can also be more convenient than other social networking sites like Facebook, to communicate with family or friends without having to deal with annoying advertisements or invites to silly games. 

So I agree that not all bloggers want to increase their connectivity.  But there are many of us who do.  In fact, I do, which is one reason why I participated in Sean’s experiment.

I found Seán’s experiment results very interesting, but I do view them as limited for primarily this reason:  he used a convenience sample, with a “snowball effect” (people reblogging his post to other bloggers that he was not already connected with).  Thus, only bloggers who were interested in being part of an ever-growing blogging community were likely to participate.  Thus, inherent in his results is the bias of self-selection (those who chose to participate did so because they are interested in growing their community).  Also, the number of bloggers he ultimately used is an infinitesimally small percentage of the entire blogging community.  For Sean’s results to be generalized to the entire blogging community, he would have had to conduct a massive random sample survey of the blogosphere, including bloggers whose blogs are private.  (And even then, there would still be serious limitations.  In case you haven’t guessed already, I have professional experience in social surveys and data collection :)) 

However, for what Seán was trying to do with his experiment, I would argue a convenience sample is exactly what he needed to use: Seán wants to help other bloggers grow their community, their connectivity.  To do that, he needs the participation of those who want to grow their community, not those who want to stay private or limit themselves to a small group.

For us who participated in Sean’s experiment  (and the many bloggers who didn’t but who are reading his posts, wanting to know more), it was an interesting and creative experience, and illuminating for me.  It helped me to realize how far behind the curve I am with growing my community.  I reblog a lot, which gets me some traffic, but essentially reblogging drives traffic to the blog I’m reblogging.  In most cases (as in book promotions and book giveaways), that’s what I want to happen.  But it would be disingenius of me to deny that I would also hope to benefit somehow when I reblog. 

Through his blog, Seán promises to provide guidance on how to grow one’s garden of followers.  Granted, there is a lot of advice out there already, but, through his experiment, Seán actually demonstrated one way to do this.  He didn’t just write about it, he did it.  I participated because it was fun and Seán allowed enough time (for me anyway) to follow up without feeling too pressured (although  I did sweat a little in my search for the Wizard Pig). 

By promising to offer guidance, Seán continues to demonstrate the “give-and-take” nature of blogging.  He will provide posts on ways to improve traffic to one’s blog, but there’s a “price:”   “for every ten reblogs this posts gets, [he]will put up a post on ways  to improve your blogging traffic.”  Now, what you think I did?

Categories: Blogging

Tagged as:

Marie A Bailey

Writer, blogger, knitter, cat lover, and introvert.

20 replies

  1. In my case, I didn’t start blogging to be part of a community. However, it happened anyway, and now I’m very glad it did. I’ve “met” a lot of like-minded friends and generally cool and interesting folks I never would have otherwise, and that my be the best thing about my blogging experience.


    1. I hear you! Misanthrope that I am, I never expected to meet and become friends with such a great group of people, and the group keeps getting bigger 🙂


  2. Interesting! I’m working on a post that touches on similar ideas, vis-a-vis game theory and reciprocity. Sometimes it feels like we’re all in the middle of someone else’s experiment, doesn’t it?


    1. Ha ha ha … Yup, and I’m thinking of maybe doing a survey on social media and the like. There so much discussion out there; I want to distill it somehow and a survey might work. It would also give me an opportunity to put my survey design skills to work (I’m such a data nerd …)


  3. I really enjoyed reading about Sean’s experiment and as I am keen to grow my community then it was right up my street. I really enjoyed the way that you have expanded his post here and it is the same as everything, some things work for some and not for others. We have to take from anything like this as much information as is useful to us and then apply it how we see fit. If we all wanted the same thing then the world would be a very boring place! And I for one am proud to be part of your community and am very much looking forward to any surveys etc.. that you decide to do!


  4. Marie,

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments and this blog post. I am split in two, wondering if I should post my comment here on this post or under your comment on my post. I am split in two because of Hyperconnectivity! But….. I will just copy-paste. 😉

    I absolutely agree that Sean’s experiment sought volunteers who chose to be part of it. Within that select group the results were valid and interesting. I found it most interesting that he mentions the lack of attention span, and many people quitting the experiment in later stages. People cannot sustain their interest in anything for long these days, especially on the Internet. In a day or two I will post something on “Hyperconnectivity” and how it affects human minds and behaviors. (There’s a lot of new research done on it, and some writers, aritsts, filmmakers have interesting take on this topic, which I will broach in my post).

    Oh, by the way, I NEVER wanted to underestimate Bloggers’ need for connectivity and community. Not many, BUT Most bloggers seek a community. If blogger connectivity was non-existent I wouldn’t be talking to you and others now!

    I believe that most online activity– blogging, social networking, online gaming, online book reading and reviewing, viewing and sharing pictures, watching and sharing videos on places like YouTube– will eventually form its unique cluster of shared interests. That’s why you have people on the internet talking about and sharing humorous content or religious/evangelical/ Christian content, or of course, Pornography and in some unfortunate cases even child pornography. (Pedophiles have always had some very organized cladestine online communities on a global scale).

    Also, there are more and more people in Blogosphere who aspire to be commercially published writers and poets. Certainly, they want more and more people to read their work! If any blogger/wannbe writer has a very impressive number of followers, readers and commenters it automatically means that some literary agent or publisher would eventually offer him or her a book deal (SINCE…there is MONEY to be made).

    This is how the market works: Popularity equals Influence and Money. Needless to say, most people want their blog to be popular.

    But coming back to the exception I cited, In the Blogosphere’s Traffic-Generation and Monetize-Your-Blog talk we tend to lump all people on a Blogging platform together. To repeat, there are people for whom writing what they want to write is more important than writing for a maximum number of blog readers to Generate Maximum “Traffic”. My point was that this Expectation to Generate Traffic can soon turn a writer who writes from the heart and gut into a performer who performs for maximum applause.

    That said, if someone Naturally–as opposed to being a sell-out– happens to be the kind of funny, cool, cute, sexy (and somewhat facile) blogger who appeals to the lowest common denominator and whose blog most people want to view, then good for Him or Her 😉


    1. Rajiv, thank you for your thoughtful response and for leaving it here as well as at your blog 🙂 I think all the issues you raise are ones that many bloggers consider as they begin their blogs and find a community. Speaking for myself, I don’t ever want to write for the sole purpose of attracting followers. As you eloquently say, “this Expectation to Generate Traffic can soon turn a writer who writes from the heart and gut into a performer who performs for maximum applause.” I struggle with this tension every day because I really would like to draw more traffic to my blog. At the same time, I want people to follow my blog because I’m writing from the heart, not because I found some catchy cute way to attract them (like daily posts of pictures of cute kittens … although that idea does have some appeal for me ;))

      I hope we’ll have more of these discussions, and I’m looking forward to your post on hyperconnectivity. Thanks again for commenting here 🙂


  5. I started my blog to engage in sharing of ideas. Seems to work well and am thinking of trying to expand so took Sean up on his experiment. To the point that Rajiv makes regarding a book deal with agent or publishers based on followers. It seldom happens.Lots of followers may lead to more book sales but not necessarily a book deal unless the person is very well known


    1. John, you’re right that “book deals” seldom happen. But there are also many instances where an author’s Blog itself has been turned into a book.

      I suppose, considering there are probably hundreds of thousands of popular bloggers out there, getting a good book deal seems not more likely than winning a lottery. Yet, the dreamers will keep on dreaming and hoping. 🙂


    2. You’re both right. Blogging in the hope of getting a book deal is like playing the lottery, but that book deal seems less and less likely to happen. It’s like the economy. There’s plenty of supply (bloggers) but little demand (breakthrough books by bloggers). Still, it doesn’t hurt to dream and to keep pounding at the keyboard, trying to write the best story, poem, chapter, essay we can think of. And to share ideas and community. That’s the best part, really. The rest is gravy 🙂


  6. I must say this post has an almost technical ring to it. I’ve never done any guest blogging or anything related to it. I started Blogging to write, and in many ways stayed to read some of the amazing life stories and insights I found within the medium, but I don’t approach it with any planning or technique


    1. And still you have a great blog that I love to follow 🙂 I actually have little planning or technique with my blog, except jumping at almost every chance to be part of the community (e.g., The Community Storyboard and the Rome Construction Crew). And the first reason why I do those things is because they are fun and they are more opportunities to write. For me, the drive for more “traffic” or followers is the desire to be heard and to know I’m being heard. But there is a fine line between making myself accessible to others through my writing and manipulating my blog to attract new followers. At least I think so 🙂


  7. When I started blogging, it never really crossed my mind that anyone other than people I know would read it – and maybe not even them! Then to my surprise, ‘strangers’ started commenting and liking – how odd! And thank god for it, because it’s paved the way for me to meet so many wonderful, like-minded and supportive people. Yourself included of course!


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