There are certain myths that have grown up around blogs, bloggers and the blogosphere in general. Here are just some of them and some clarifications:
Anyone can start a blog! Not just anyone! There are some requirements, some more obvious than others. Obviously, you need a computer that you know how to use, an Internet connection and some experience using the Internet. You also need a host for your blog; there are blog posts that are free and some that cost a small amount per month. One last requirement is not just an ability to communicate your thoughts but also a willingness to do so.
Anyone can set up a blog! Some blogs are much easier to set up and use than others, this depends on your blog host (e.g., blogger, iBlogs, TypePad, tblog, etc.). Some blog hosts take you through a couple simple set-up steps and you’re off writing your first post but there are others that get far more technical than the average user may be ready for.
Blogging doesn’t take up that much time! That depends! Some posts, when you have a clear idea of what you want to say, may take just a few minutes while you may struggle for days (literally) with others that involve complex issues or thoughts. In general, blogging is a daily activity for the serious blogger (some bloggers write up to ten posts a day) and a once-a-week activity for the casual blogger.
Blogs are in competition with the main-stream media! This is true in a few cases (not as many cases as bloggers would have you think). Just recently, there have been some very popular and influential social and politically-oriented blogs that have caused main-stream media outlets to back-track and change their coverage of important events.
Bloggers just criticize and have no new information to add! This may be true in some cases but blogging today is much more than the personal activity it used to be. Corporations, media outlets, public personalities, politicians and experts in almost every field have now joined the ranks of blog producers. Considering all this expertise, one would have to say that bloggers have a lot of new information to add to any debate.
You can’t believe anything you read on a blog! That’s a bit of an overstatement. You’ll run across bad information and even intentional untruths in blogs but, for the most part, bloggers who state facts are stating what they honestly believe to be fact. It is always up to the readers to verify that any information they receive is accurate information.
The blogosphere is a meritocracy! Does the cream rise to the top? Of course, it does but outside of the world of the dairy, a lot depends on how you define cream. If you consider those bloggers who have the highest readership to be the “best“ then yes, the blogosphere is a meritocracy with readership being the ‘payoff’ for being the best. The best, however, is not always the most popular. You will, while surfing, run across some extremely intelligent, extremely poignant and extremely erudite bloggers who have a very small readership, as evidenced by very few, if any, comments to their posts. That can be explained by those blogger’s lack of willingness to ‘play the game’ that must be played to attract a large readership, e.g., aggressively promoting their blogs, spending many times more hours reading and commenting on other’s blogs than they spend writing for their own, listing their blog on every available directory, etc.. Every one of us has a different definition of success, to some, a large readership is an adequate success, to some using their blog as a money-making device and actually making some money is the ultimate success while to others, like those with an intentionally low profile, feel that simply creating posts that are perfect expressions of what they want to say is reward enough.