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The very name ‘blog’ has a heavy, clunking, and somewhat negative feel to me.

For that, as much as for a lack of a sense of just why I should divert from the time-pressured editing and writing that fills my days, I have resisted joining in the phenomenon. But as is obvious, I have reluctantly now done so, and am slowly discovering that the process offers benefits that may not initially be obvious.
Leaving aside the question as to why anyone would want to read someone else’s ramblings, the issue arises as to why anyone would imagine such ramblings could be of interest to anyone else?
We all have an abundance of information sources, electronic and print, of a range that is beyond imagination. If it’s web-based material you’re after, the sheer scale of page numbers on the web runs into hundreds of millions if not billions… good, bad, indifferent and plain skull-numbingly awful.
And into this ghastly and glorious mix we now have millions of blogs.
So what point is there in writing, never mind reading, a blog?
Personally I have discovered that it offers an opportunity to hear myself think.
It also provides a means of self-expression that is not constrained by having to offer evidence for every statement made – something my normal writing demands (reader be warned and beware!)
There is a sense of freedom in blog-writing, since it expresses what I feel and think, about whatever I choose to write about.
Many years ago, when as a family we lived in Northamptonshire, my wife Alkmini [classically minded readers will realise that this name belonged to the mother of Hercules] completed a skills training course in counselling at what was then Nene College, Northampton (now the University of Northampton).
Amongst the gems of information that I learned from Alkmini’s training was the value, in counselling, of the individual being counselled, “hearing themselves speak”, as areas of concern (to the individual) were carefully explored.
This process, in and of itself, appears to have therapeutic value.
So, when writing in my blog, I can – metaphorically – hear myself think, unconstrained by the limitations imposed when writing for journal or book readers, who demand that personal opinion be absent (unless explicitly stated to be such), and that citations and references surround each statement, so that what emerges is ‘evidence informed’.
Blog-writing on the other hand is free of such constraints, it is the equivalent of walking bare-foot on the beach, of dressing just anyway you feel, of (men will appreciate this) not bothering to shave….it represents freedom!

But why should anyone else care to read such ramblings?
Well, there is something of potential value in feeling a sense of resonance with someone else’s opinions or feelings, I suppose.
And there is always the joy of feeling infinitely superior to the poor blogger whose opinions and thoughts are so clearly muddled and which can therefore easily be dismissed.
Or, you might find actual gems of information, as I do when reading blogs written by some extremely talented writers – who are perhaps enjoying the carefree barefoot joys of simply writing to hear themselves think.
Two that I recommend:
One, no surprise to those who know my admiration for her, is my daughter’s insightful and beautifully written blog.
Another is by a colleague, about whom I may ramble one day, but whose work speaks for itself, Tom Myers. His thoughtful prose is a delight to read.
….. and so, with a little bit of luck, you may find yourself dipping your bare toe into this muddy pool of millions of blogs, which despite its’ clunking unnattractive name offers much both in the reading and the writing.

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