The Otakusphere: Micro-blogging, Identity and an unhealthy dose of navel-gazing.

So I’m going to try to avoid too much navel gazing in the post.

But recently there have been at least a couple posts about the nature of micro-blogging and its place in the Otakusphere.

What I found interesting about both Hige’s and Michael’s posts is specifically the idea of identity, both the identity of the writer and the identity of the blog. Now everyone takes on different characteristics depending on the role we’re playing at a certain point (some people do this more than others.) We’re different depending on whether we’re at work or if we’re at home or if we’re with friends or talking to teachers. Now these changes are greater or lesser depending on how drastically different the roles they play are.

Or at least that’s how I think about it.

But every writer has an identity. We generally refer to it as a voice, but largely it’s something we cultivate. To be honest, I think that’s where The Animanachronism’s micro blog comes in. It’s a little more personal, and it doesn’t really fit his identity as a writer (I can’t say anything about Owen’s because I haven’t really read it.) It might provide a scratch pad of sorts for ideas in later posts. But largely, it wouldn’t fit into the type of writing that we’d expect from him.

(If you’ll permit a little navel-gazing here, I’ll try to make it quick.)

Now, this is largely where I fit in. I have an identity as a writer. If someone pinned me down and made me describe it, I’d probably call myself an intellectual plebian. Basically, I’m smart enough to get myself in trouble, but I’m nowhere as smart as say, The Animanachronism, Martin, Hige or Michael. I’m not as good of a writer as bateszi, Hidoshi or CCY. I’m not as funny as Baka-raptor or lolikit. (I apologize if I left anyone out there, because I do think there are an awful lot of good writers in these circles.)

In fact, I’d say the strength of my writing identity comes from two major points. I try to state my point clearly (and forcefully). And I generally take a radically moderate point of view (although sometimes I just take a radical point of view.)

But largely, writers should cultivate a writing identity. Because, most readers read a blog or a column or anything because of the writer. (Or at least I do, so I might be generalizing here.)

Now a blog identity is a different thing. I think there is a good case for having a blog identity. Say if you write episode recaps and that’s what people come to your blog expecting to see. Essentially people are creating a brand. This way they’ll attract loyal readers. Or as Daniel states in his post, there’s a necessity of having standards.

Ironically, by accident and design, this blog doesn’t really have a brand in the same way. As most people point out, I tend to cover a wide range of topics. Now I do think that my identity as a writer sometimes shifts a little depending on what I’m writing about, but I’d like to think it remains fairly consistent. In a lot of ways, I’d attract a more loyal crowd if I picked a particular brand for my blog like bateszi has (with Bateszi, Afterimage and his posts in Nakama Brittanica). But unfortunately, I can’t seem to reign in the different parts of my brain so I can consistently write one type of piece.

In general though, I’m not sure if it’s a good thing to get strangled by your own blog. Because honestly, I’d read what bateszi wrote if he writes it on Afterimage or on Nakama Brittanica or on… well… Bateszi’s anime blog. I don’t think his identity as a writer shifts enough to really warrant three different blogs.

But that said, I’d read any of those three blogs anyway, so I doubt that it matters.

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13 Comments

  1. I try to state my point clearly (and forcefully).

    That’s why you’re the only blogger whose text-only posts I bother reading 🙂

  2. I don’t know if I even have an idendity. Or a brand.

    Then again I don’t really care that much. I think of it as this: we should write what we like. Anyone who says otherwise, in my opinion (which you should never take seriously), is putting on them unnecessary limits as to what they want to write about.

    For me, as long as I can relate it to animé, and keep it within the confines of mildly good taste, while making the article fairly readable, i don’t think i should be limited to what i write.

  3. @bakaraptor

    This blog will not be the same if pictures were added eh?

    —–

    Perhaps the reason why some would ponder over the identity/brand of their blogs is because they find it hard to classify them under ‘focused in episodic summary’ or ‘editorial inclined’ for example. Categories, personally to me, are rather generic means to define the nature of the blog. But I believe that all blogs, if not written simply for the sake of attracting the crowd, can just be labelled as ‘personal’.

    I doubt I can describe what type of blog yours is with just a few words. Same applies to all blogs out there. Tabun…

  4. As long as I’m comfortable with what I’m writing I don’t have much problems with my posts, be they editorial, light-hearted, fun, or otherwise.

  5. “But largely, writers should cultivate a writing identity. Because, most readers read a blog or a column or anything because of the writer.”

    Um… really? I think you’re confusing personal blogs with anime blogs here. Not many bloggers want to say it, but I read mosts anime blogs for content rather than writer. As such, I also write more posts that are content-driven rather than personality driven. There are so many godamn blogs out there and it isn’t possible to form an ever-lasting blog bond with an individual writer especially when you factor in real-life commitments.

    You should not compare blogs with columns because mostly, columns are done professionally while blogging is supposed to be fun.

    Which is why convention serves readers more than it does the individual blogger. Of course bloggers need hits, but what if the same old grind gets boring?

    However, if you see your blog as a means to generate revenue, the entire arguement changes. This transforms your blog into a professional column of sorts, and you wouldn’t really mind going through the grind for the moolah. This is why most formulaic convention driven blogs like Random Curiosity have ads (I don’t want to bring up some more popular ones, I think any frequent reader of the blogosphere will know who). Heck, Random Curiosity has been doing the same damned thing over and over, the readers keep coming in, and the RC writers don’t get sick of it. I think most non-revenue driven bloggers would. I personally don’t read RC though, but I’m aware of its popularity and pop in sometimes to monitor it.

    Blogging should be for fun, and convention isn’t fun. It IS proven that convention does bring in readers though, but will ultimately lead to blog burnouts even if those said blogs are popular. There have already been some poignant examples that have already occured but I don’t want to bring up specific blogs as anyone who has lurked around long enough will know which ones I’m talking about.

  6. I don’t get it.

    Why don’t you just write what you want?

    Blogs don’t kill bloggers. People do. To me it seems much more sensible to write for an audience only when you have something worthwhile to gain through the exercise (eg. ad revenue). My ego alone is not worth the effort. Other than that, just do whatever the hell you want. I don’t think any of us is being paid enough to do this if it isn’t fun, microblogging or not.

    It seems mercenary but ultimately I read blogs for content and not so much for style. I believe that is rather the norm and not the exception. It is only when people offer similar content that the style becomes a major factor. That is the case for review and cap blogs, but for people who are offering their unique perspective regarding fandom or whatever, odds are no one else is offering the same perspective as you do. To me that is the NUMERO UNO of these kinds of blogs.

    You could be writing at a 5th grade level, and if you have something insightful to say, I’d read it.

    WTB loli bloggers.

  7. @ bakaraptor – Thanks 🙂

    @DrmChsr0 – I think you have a good point. (And arguably one that came up later in the responses). And I think that taking blogging too seriously, is probably bad for the health.

    @ The Sojourner – Again a good point.

    @ Michael – I think that’s a good point.

    @ dKIWI – Well I did hedge myself there. Personally as a reader, I read particular blogs consistently. I read some blogs inconsistently. And I rarely read some blogs. And in general, I know whether or not I’ll read a blog mostly off of the strength of a few posts. But everyone’s different.

    As far as the professional = column while amatuer = post distinction. That I have to say phooey to that. In my mind, a column is just a structure, much like an essay is a structure, whereas a blog post doesn’t have a particular structure. But I do think there are people who do this professionally and so pick out a style. But let’s face it they started early and they hunkered down in a corner of the Internet and that’s where they are.

    @ omo – I think that’s a fair comment. As I said to dKIWI, I tend to read certain blogs, in part for the writer, in part for the viewpoint, but not so much for the type of posts. I think that’s what I’m driving as as far as the difference between writing identity and blog identity. But in the end, this isn’t really serious business. It’s just a way to have a voice.

  8. Consider an alternative perspective: Seems to me you are not so much talking about voice but relationship between you and the blogs you read, actually.

  9. @omo – I think you have a point. I wonder though if you can seperate the blog from the writer. And whether decisions about certain content actually affect readership (i.e. most people end up saying that if you want a “popular” blog then you need to have a gimmick or a niche.) To me, I don’t really have either as far as I can tell. I just write about what I want to write about, and sometimes I suceed and sometimes I fail. And sometimes I suceed on posts that aren’t arguably very good and sometimes I fail on posts that I think are pretty good. But that’s neither here nor there.

    But perhaps voice isn’t really the best way to phrase it though. Maybe mindset is a better way to phrase it.

  10. In terms of blogging, I went through some dry spells during parts of April/May where I just couldn’t conjure the enthusiasm to write anything. I guess I was feeling like whatever I wrote had to be ‘thorough’, ‘decisive’ or just plain long. Eventually, it wore me down, and that’s where Afterimage came in; away from all that expectation (imagined or otherwise, it’s basically the same thing), I was able to write freely again and suddenly all that (imagined) ‘pressure’ relaxed. I think all I needed was a break; to take a step back and to forget about things for a while, but rather than go on hiatus like Jeff Lawson, I went in another direction. I envy people, like yourself Cameron, who don’t care about any of that expectation and just write impulsively. It has never been that way for me.

    (Just a quick note on Nakama Britannica; it’s a team-blog made up of our writers at Anime UK News (animeuknews.net; which is my ‘main’ anime project), so, it’s not really my blog, like Bateszi or Afterimage, I just contribute something once a month.)

  11. @bateszi – I just thought it was interesting more than anything else. I mean like I said, I’d read your stuff no matter where it was, just because I like your perspective. I think that’s what I’m trying to get at with writing identity. (Granted, I didn’t necessarily think it all the way through.) I mean the writer is going to bring the same things to any blog post they write, whether it’s at Bateszi or Afterimage. (And I noticed the difference with Nakama Brittanica, but what I noticed there is that you tend to put a different type of post, with the same kind of perspective.)

    And in all honesty, I think there’s good things and bad things about being impulsive. I usually have a point, but it’s easy to disagree with me. Which is probably part of what makes my blog fun to write. Is that it makes me think about what other people say. Now occasionally I have something I feel really strongly about (i.e. my blowup at ANN). But generally I throw an idea out there to see what people think. And occasionnally to get people riled up. Sometimes I’m right/ sometimes I’m wrong. Both of which are fine by me.

    I mean I respect people like yourself who really care about what they’re putting out there. And I guess to a degree I care about my writing (i.e. whether I really have a point or not), but I take any real popularity with a grain of salt. Because people are going to read me, or they aren’t. And if they don’t then I obviously don’t have anything to say.

  12. Yea, no identity here either. I write what/when I can, via stimulation. Sadly, I am a passionate person, but I just don’t write that way about much anime, as it comes off pretty gheym0.

  13. […] my feelings about a show eloquently enough. Or that my comments are too short, and whatnot. As iniksbane summed up and pointed out, one of the main reasons behind this micro-blogging fad is the concept of […]


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