Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Why do I blog?

Joseph asks in a comment to this recent post:

"Why DO you blog, Julien? You have an amazingly high output - what's your motivation? Is it just pure geekiness (aka, passion for your subject)?"

Well, money is not my intention. It has never been. Although it would be funny living from a hobby.

"Passion" could be too strong, but it could be an appropriate term in comparative perspective. I suppose it has become geekiness, although it wasn't that way from the beginning.

When I started this blog, I thought about bringing discussions where there are not enough discussions and to give a perspective that looks at things from a different angle.

I've become engaged at the European level some years ago and I realised that the discussions I saw and I took part in were not really European. They were often conducted as if never done before - in a vacuum of arguments and perspectives that desperately asked to be filled with substance.

When you look at the output of this blog - its posts - you will realise that there are different concrete motivations behind all this writing:

Sometimes I just come across an issue, a text, a blog entry, I find interesting for me, or I think that a larger audience (if this term may be used in the context of EU blogging) could be interested in it. Then I reblog, I comment; sometimes I add a little detail. This is almost no extra work, besides linking and writing a short text on something I've just read. It's quickly done.

The second category are posts which are based on research. I'd say they are the result of educational and/or journalistic motivations, directed towards my readers but also towards me: I try to find something interesting - a document, a discussion, an event - that didn't get much attention so far. It's education for me, because I am learning about issues I didn't care about before, and it's also journalism for me, because if the topics were covered elsewhere I wouldn't need to research and write about them. But since I post it, this self-education and self-journalism can have some effect to the outside world. Usually this involves some time: A post of this category can be written over several hours or days, depending on my time and personal motivation.

Then there are more personal comments, reflections, analyses. I write them down - as I've told some days ago - as if I was writing on my own, for me, like in a diary, even if afterwards this might cause reactions that go beyond this internal motivation. These texts take more time than they may look like from the outside. I've even erased several of them because I couldn't finish them or because they became too personal.

The fourth category are political posts. I am a political person, and certain things get on my nerves and I feel (politically) obliged to criticise or at least to react. They are close to the first category, but more related to an internal agenda than to spontaneous interest.

I suppose that this explains to some extend the output of this blog:

There are several motivations behind writing, and the main element of geekiness or passion is writing all this down, taking the time for it, instead of keeping it for me.

But the main motivation to post all this remains the fact that most of the things we are writing about still lack a public, they still lack attention by the media and by citizens and professional political actors all over the continent.

As long as I feel that there is this lacuna, I think I will continue blogging: Until the day when I have the feeling to get almost everything I am interested in in Europe and in the European Union through other sources.


Grahnlaw said...


That was a clear exposition of various posts and motives.

The lacuna you mention; I felt that the European Union was nowhere near the intrusive monster some anti-European campaigners paint, but much more important than the profound lack of both knowledge and interest EU citizens show in reality and various opinion polls. Therefore, the educational aspect became important for me.

Josef Litobarski said...

Cheers, Julien - that was more than I expected!

For my part: I started blogging because I wanted to take an active approach to the subject. If I just sat and read news articles written by other people, it would be too passive.

But blogging is like a public conversation. It's much closer to the original conception of democracy - a group of people arguing noisily about everything under the sun. I am able to challenge other people, and other people are able to challenge me.

Julien Frisch said...


I think my approach is not educational enough sometimes, I am still too political, even too spontaneous. :-)


I first started to write a comment, but it became too long, so instead of trying to shorten my comment I made a blog post out of it which takes less time. But I agree, it's the conversational aspect that makes blogging interesting, but I think I'd still blog if this wasn't the case.

When it comes to democracy, I'd be more hesitant. What we do is to make some discussions visible, to raise questions in public. But if this is democracy, it is a very elitist version of democracy, because our subject doesn't just concern our little village where we all meet every day. We are talking about huge issues in a very small circus, and I'd not compare this to the classical image of democracy.

Eurocentric said...

@ Julien

I think you've a good approach to blogging, with an interesting range of topics.

I wouldn't say that there's anything wrong with being political, even if you're trying to be educational, because it is a very political issue. And if people can check out the sources themselves and start a debate, then it's a great way of learning about the EU and finding your own position on it.

I started blogging because I thought I should be more politically active - and so that I could debate Europe without annoying my very apolitical friends!

Josef Litobarski said...

Hehe, I'd say then that it's EXACTLY like the classical version of Democracy: horribly elitist.

Citizens are the only ones who have a vote. And in classical Greece, only between 10 and 25 percent of the population were citizens. Slaves, metics (foreigners) and women were excluded. :D

Not a very good role-model for democracy.

But we're arguably more "democratic" than the mainstream media, and that might partly be because of our small size. If I make a comment on a major news site, it quickly gets drowned out in the noise. If I comment on an EU blog, people not only genuinely appreciate it, they comment back and take my half-baked thoughts seriously.

Sometimes they then take my comment, and make an entire post out of it. ;)

Don't get me wrong, the EU blogosphere needs to be bigger. But if people see this kind of familiar interaction taking place, there's a good chance they're going to want to be a part of it.

french derek said...

Why do I get involved in blogs - especially about the EU? because that's where I find people willing to read and react intelligently. As Josef says, news sites drown out postings - but they are also used by people who don't want to do anything other than push their own (usually narrow) point of view.

Also, picking up Josef's point about wider usage: thank goodness for euroblogspot.