October 2008

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alex's life book

  • In early 2006, I began creating a life book for my daughter, Alex. Click here for links to articles describing my experience.
  • And for those of you who are more digitally inclined, in late 2006, I recreated key pages of Alex's lifebook for an article I wrote for AlphaMom, using Scrapblog.

    You can see the final digital result (and leave comments, if you'd like!) here.

what's been on my nikon lately

  • And you can view my favourites here.

if i'm not here, i'm here

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Comments

Denise

Huge questions! Hard to answer.

I think anytime you express yourself you have power. There is power in you, in everything you say and everything you share. Even if all you're doing is talking about how you handled a tough parenting moment, you have power if someone else is listening.

I also think that it's very possible to wield power in a political or social way through your blog. It's not always easy to see and you might not ever see it but I'm betting you've swayed someone to come hang out on your side of the fence before. I am sure that I have.

No, I don't always think about it when I write. Just like I don't always think about it when I talk. I probably should, though. But I do enough of that at work. Thinking about the ramification of personal blogging makes it too complicated and too much like work for me.

Good, good questions. I'll be watching the comments and I may try and cross link to you with some more fleshed out thoughts tomorrow.

Menita

First of all, that picture is gorgeous. And I don't know why, but I got a lump in my throat when I saw it. Maybe because it's so perfectly evocative of what having a daughter is all about? Just lovely. I wish you lived nearby so you could take pictures of my baby - all of my pictures are loving but not very good!
Now to you questions:
No power at all. I look at it as a little public garden in front of my private home. I saunter out occasionally and say hi to the neighbors and passerby, but I don't kid myself that I am changing the world in any way. That's not why I have it, anyway.
That said, it seems to have had a little influence on a small group of people. Mostly, I think, because some feel at home there. But earth shattering, award winning influence? Heck no!
2.

Johnny

The best compliments I have received is that some of my postings make people think or ponder some philosophical point.

Otherwise, I try to keep a level head and remember that sometimes I read a posting of someone that I really respect and think, "That's nuts!". And so, I reverse that and consider that is what some people think of my particular posting.

Not each posting or comment is a gem. That's what you have to remember.

So in answer to your questions:

1) yes - but not an influence in a direct way. I may make people think, but the end result of that thinking...I have no idea how it ends up.

2) Yes, by having people tell you how much your posting affected them, it makes you very self-concious, which will affect your posting, which might dilute or change your original blogging intentions.

Bella

Hmmm.

1. Yes and no. I think I wield equivalent power through blogging as I do through conversation - mostly because at this point so few people read the site. I think those with a wider audience do wield more power - power more similar to that of various news media.

2. To be honest, I haven't really thought about it too much. I suppose that when I post something particularly emotional and/or political, I wonder if people will comment, or how they'll judge what I've written. But, I rarely (if ever) think about it as power.

Interesting questions, though.

oso

I feel like I have the same power as your typical guy atop a soap box in the 1920's. Not much.

Sometimes I walk into the library or even one of those mega-bookstores and I'm just amazed at how many people have been published. How many words are out there. And how each day it seems like I have less and less time to read their words.

I once heard an interview with a nobel prize winning author. I don't remember her name. And hadn't heard of her at the time. She listed off 20 other nobel prize winners in the past century. Hadn't heard of them either. Point being, the "shelf life" of supposedly famous prize winning writers is very limited.

The irony I guess is that writing online might actually give us an advantage because of search technology. Either way, few are the Shakespeares, few are those with influence, but graphomania is certainly in abundance.

Mary

Maybe I have an inflated opinion of myself, but, yeah, I think I do have some influence on people when I write.

One of the reasons I first started my webpage (years ago, way before my blog)is because I hoped to share the experience of adoption with others and influence a few people along the way to think more seriously about adoption themselves.

And, yes, I do think about it each time I write. That is WHY I write--and it is why I parent. I think one voice does have the power to make a difference-- to change the world, one life at a time.

Charles

Nice pic as usual.
You have posed thought provoking questions.
I blog as a means of expression.....as a way of getting the ol' creative juices flowing. Some of my best ideas come about during the process of typing a post, or sometimes just after the completion of a post.

Do I wield any power? I have never really thought about the power/influence equation in posting my thoughts on my site. As the name of my site suggests maybe I'm just shouting to the cosmos and hearing my own echo.

Sleepless Mama

1. Power? Me? My first instinct is to say, "Nah. I don't have enough readers. You only have power if enough people are impacted or entertained by what you say." But my second response is yes, I do have some power in blogging, because it gives me power over whatever bothering me that I'm blogging about. Case in point: for years I'd been fuming about something my ex said to me that was particularly hurtful, and how I hadn't really done much to defend myself. One day I blogged about it, and wrote all the different things I could have used as retorts. And somehow or another, that had a soothing effect, and it's not bugging me anymore.

2. I don't think I'm really aware of this power until after I've actually sat down and got it all out. Then I feel, "Whoa. Okay. That's much better. I can be happy now."

An interesting question to ask myself: Why is it that these frustrations go away after I've blogged about them, as opposed to writing them in a private journal? I do both, but it is the blogging that seems to give more comfort. Maybe because others can see it? I don't know.

Liz

Just started blogging and am now forcing myself to really comment rather than just answering in my head. I don't really have much to add because Sleepless Mama said it better than I could have.

1. Yes. I do feel blogging gives me power, but it's a personal power -- over myself and my emotions. I'm amazed at how much happier I am having this outlet to talk out whatever's happening.
2. Yes. I am conscious, as I write, of wanting to get it right. In part so I can be clearly understood and in part so when I go back and read it I'll remember what I was feeling at the time. I've started a couple of posts and held off on publishing them because I'm still waiting to get it right.

I don't know if this came out the way I meant it to (gee -- I must really struggle with that)- but just see Sleepless Mama. She said what I wanted to but I had to throw out another $.02 anyhow!

An Interesting Question

I wouldn't have said in the beginning that I had any power -- and certainly I don't have as much power as some others -- but I feel a certain sense of it when others are influenced by what I write. I have a very small circle of blog friends, but I am older than they are and often have a different perspective on life events that they are only just experiencing or just sorting through in their minds.

So even though the circle is small, being able to take the lead has given me a sense of power. (For most of my life I've been a follower, you know?)

dave / higher powered

Power? No.
I write a Gratitude list each day. As a recovering alcoholic, this is part of my recovery program. It is a conscious effort on my part to remind myself of the reasons I choose to remain sober. If it can help another alcoholic to remember, then it has accomplished its purpose.

Sylvie

I think that some weblogs etc. yield power.
On my blog no not really. The only power I have is to express myself and I always have that power. I think because it's my blog I can say whatever I want about my feelings and beliefs so that's powerful in a way. But I don't think or attempt to really provoke anyone to think. You tend to do that on your blog and a lot of others I read do the same and that is powerful. Because of some of the things that you post I often wonder what you think about some of the things that I read on other blogs and boards about adoption.

Anonymous reader

I think that in the big realm of things, we have no power at all. People think what they think. However, in my personal experience with blogging- I've tried really hard to change what people think when they see a single mother, or a white mother with 1/2 black children, or whatever- in that I mean some people have preconceived ideas about what or who people are- and maybe through my words, I've changed that which will in turn help out the next single mother they happen to come across (does this make sense?).....

MamaChristy

I'm with Sleepless Mama: it's more of a personal power. I think that I certainly encourage some introspection among my small group of loyal readers sometimes, but I don't write for them. I write for me and it's a way to have power over things that I can't do much about in the "real" world (like my son changing his sleep habits!).

Oh, and I choose to use whatever powers I have now, or will have in the furture, for good. MY WORDS WILL FIGHT EVIL. Well, maybe not, but I hope that I will at least make my readers happy. And if not, at least I'm happy. What more power could you really want than the power to make yourself happy?

MrsDoF

I don't feel as if I have too much power, even though anyone in the world might happen to find themselves at my blog. And I do have at least one reader in England, and another in Australia, but I think of my blog as 'free postage' because I don't have to put a stamp on an envelope.
I think of myself as rather ordinary, a comfortable friend across the lunch table. It always seems to me that I write about everyday things, what's going on and how I handle it.
And yet, my blog circle keeps expanding, maybe through search engines, but word-of-mouth, most definitely.
When I write what others perceive to be profound, it seems to me that came as a serendipity.
I don't seek power, in real life I am even a bit lazy. My husband (who has a blog) would agree.
With blogging, I don't leave my comfy chair, and others can make of it what they will.

sozzled

hmm, good question. I don't know that I have power, per se. I do hope that in my blogging about abortion it becomes a topic that people think about, and makes people more comfortable having that 'discussion', be it online or in real life.

I won't convince any one who is staunchly anit-choice to change their mind, but I may encourage someone to sign a petition or volunteer at a clinic someday. And in that little way I suppose I am changing the world.

My blog is a personal blog, so it isn't only about abortion, but as it is central to my life work my readers (all 5 of them ;-) see the importance I place on fighting to keep it accessible & safe.

Heather B.

I loved these questions...

A friend of mine who ocassionally reads my blog told me she was shocked that others-strangers-also read and comment. I told her that these strangers read and comment, because what I am going through at this time in my life (recently graduated from college, broke, neurotic, etc.), is something that everyone has gone through at some point. A time to figure out who they are when for years, they were given a pretty concrete map of what to do and where to go. I don't think I'm influential or that I wield any power, but I am honest and candid about the crap that I've been going through. For the most part, I feel that people respect me for it, and me being honest, makes them more honest, and I get a lot of great feedback.

I suppose that if power, is making people go back in their minds, to a time that they'd rather not remember, and then share that with me, then I guess I'm powerful. But other than that, and as narcissistic as this may sound, I like sharing my life and I like that others are willing to share in it with me; both the good and the bad.

Also, I'm new to your site, and I absoultely love it...

Lala

I hope I don't have any power over others at all. I know I do have the power to hurt those I love if I were to use it. I try not to. I'd like to think of my blog as a tool to make people laugh and keep in touch with friends. If there was an issue affecting my life like adoption or illness then I might be able to influence people's thoughts on that one subject but otherwise, no. I reach maybe 40 people a day so I'm not sure why I even bothered to answer. *s*

Schmoopy

Hi Karen,

First off -- wonderful photo! You are a master at capturing a mood and a moment.

Your questions come at an interesting time as I have been thinking about my blog lately. When you suggested if people wanted to comment anonymously so they could be frank it made me laugh because that has been heavy on my mind. When I first started my blog, it was simply because I had things I needed to express and it was a way for me to reach out. It was cheap therapy. In hindsight, I don't know if I thought it out all the way through, and although I sent my initial post to some people, I didn't think anyone was actually continually reading my blog and that now has raised some issues for me.

Part of me really wishes I blogged anonymously so I could be that frank. I am starting to find out that many people I know read my blog, and they talk to me about it. It's a bit strange really. If a stranger were reading, and commenting, that would be fantastic for me because I wouldn't be confronted face to face, but when it's my friends and family it makes me quite aware of what I post and I find myself editing my words and content. So really, who holds the power? The reader or the author?

I always tend to think of my (three-haha!) readers and try and put a positive spin on what I say, when there are many days I just want to say things that would certainly warrant a phone call from my mother.

Let's face it, it's a lot easier to be frank when you are anonymous, but I think you give yourself a certain sense of power when you can come out and express yourself honestly without being anonymous. It's very hard and very scary and something I am trying to work through. But even then, I always try to put myself in the position of someone who might be reading my words. The reader is important to me as I believe words can influence people greatly and it's a great responsibility. Not neccessarily my words, I am nowhere near that self-important, but I know I am influenced everyday from the words of others that I read.

In so far as a blog wielding power, I believe in power of expression. I gain personal power (as Sleepless Mama mentioned) from my blog as it is an exercise in expression for me. I am not the greatest communicator verbally and my blog provides me a vehicle in which to work out some issues. An interactive journal.

I know many people that dislike blogs as they think they are narcissistic (I am thinking of one person in particular I had this very conversation with recently). But to that I say this -- if part of life is the power to connect with other humans (as well as know ourselves better), and blogs certainly provide a tool for that, than certainly blogs provide more than an exercise in narcissism? As humans we are comprised of thoughts and ideas and we are decission makers. Anyone who thinks those things are narcissistic is missing the point.

I would say that the more readers you have, the more power you yield, but I recently heard from a family member who told me how much more connected she feels to me reading my blog and it has become the highlight of her day. That was extremely powerful for me to find out.

However, I don't think in these terms as I am writing. I don't go into writing a post with the thought about someone commenting on my post, or any power it might convey -- although I do enjoy comments. On the contrary, I find my posts are probably a yawn-fest to anyone who does read them who doesn't know me.

I do find myself becoming obsessed with what to blog about and many times during the day will think, "I should blog about that." But it's not coming from a place of power, its coming from a need to share, and an obsession for me to update on a regular basis. I guess at it's core it's nothing more than a hobby really. A way to express myself.

I get many things from the other blogs I read, yours included, and how can that not be powerful?

Sorry if this all sounds so fractured.

Margaret in Germany

First...that is a REALLY nice picture!

What thought provoking questions!!

I started to comment that my blog does not wield power, but I had to start over. Although it's not super hero status, I would say that my blog has wielded a tad of power...more like good vibes.

I started back to college at 32, when my daughter was just 2 years old (I'm a single parent and I work full time). When I started my blog, I would mention on occassion about classes, grades, finals, etc. I would always get VERY positive comments.

I've also gotten personal emails from readers telling me how much they were inspired by me to continue their education. I got my Bachelors Degree in December, and I've even gotten a few graduation presents from blog readers!

When I update, I don't really think about the influence the post wields. I just write what's going on, and keep it real. If someone influenced by my blog, I REALLY hope it's in a good way!!

Sally

My blog is a very small, personal sort of website for family and friends. I don't write about important or thoughtful issues. I don't start discussions. It's sole purpose is to share daily events and experiences and photos with people who want to watch my son grow up. Over the past couple of years, more "strangers" have started reading, but I still write for people who know and care about me.

I've thought about this for a little while, and I think my site does give me power in a couple of ways, even though it's not political or society-changing power.

First, it allows me to make people's lives brighter. My son's grandparents and aunts and uncles all live far away and they check the site every day. Many of them have told me of days when a new, funny picture of my son made them chuckle or helped cheer them up after a difficult meeting, etc. The ability to affect people at a distance this way isn't a big power, but it is a driving motivation for me to keep doing it.

Secondly, it gives me the power to control how people perceive me when I write about my experience or parenting choices. This is a selfish use of power, but it's something I think about often when I post. If I'm having a hard time dealing with something - sleep deprivation, toddler tantrums, letting my child watch TV, etc - all I have to do is write about it on my website. Then, my friends and family know what I'm going through and what I'm thinking without me having to explain it to everyone everytime. They're more willing to sympathize and to understand me a little bit if they read what I write. Like I said, it's a selfish use of power, but having an immediate way of letting people know what's happening or about decisions I've made, lets me feel like I have more control over their perception of me. I can explain my motives for decisions. I can explain away a grumpy day because they know I got up at 4 am. I shouldn't care what people think of me or my parenting choices, but when I blog at least I feel like I have the power to explain.

Lisa C.

I don't know if it's power, exactly, maybe more of a sphere of influence. I write becuase I feel a passion for it and I like the sense of community in the blogosphere. Even though most of what I write is right off the top of my head, sometimes it makes and impression on people. I had a reader email me once about how she realized that working parents can do attachment parenting, and I think that's a step in the right direction.

Mir

Wait, we're supposed to get power with these things? Why wasn't I informed?? ;)

Lucrecer

I did not believe that I really had any power simply by using an online journal, until the day my previous journal went poof. I had so many emails with people saying they came to read the quotes I posted and they were motivated to do something with themselves instead of having pity parties. Did that make me feel powerful? Not really. I see it as finding other kindred spirits who think and feel similar things that you do. It took me a long time to even reveal a picture of myself on my blog. For well over 7 or 8 months, people had no idea I was a black woman. Not any idea. I am sure some people were surprised, but I do try to be genuine...in a strange way.

arubagirl

I don't think that my blog has any power nor do I think that it should. I consider it as an opportunity to share with more people what I think and what happens in my daily live living on a small island.

But I don't believe anyone should make a life-changing decision based on my blog as it is now.

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