Blogs: Pros and Cons
Ever since our civilization emerged, humans felt a strong need to communicate not only verbally but also share their knowledge and experience via written language and works of art. The cultural heritage owes its greatest masterpieces to the need of the human species to express the thoughts and share the feelings: architecture, literature and art convey the progress of the cultural civilization of humanity. From the cave paintings to the petroglyphs and ancient scriptures, from the biblical parables to the modern literature – humans are looking for the optimal ways to speak to the contemporaries and the future generations, making wisdom and knowledge persist for the centuries to come.
The modern era brought new opportunities for the humanity: the advent of the radio, television and the Internet provide us with the opportunity to exchange thoughts and opinions, news and information in a matter of minutes or even seconds. The post-industrial times stake on the information as the greatest source of benefits and people whether willing or not have to accept the new rules of communication.
The invention of the world wide web speeded up the informational exchange and provided billions of users with an opportunity to communicate their thoughts into the “live broadcast” accessed by people all around the world. The human interaction caused new forms of interaction: chats, social communities of different specialization or groups of interest and blogs (a web log that enable the authors to post their writings online instantly).
The blogs are the phenomenon that was expected to appear in the web one day: millions of people used to convey their sacred thoughts and feelings to the small diaries. Even the prominent scientists, travelers and political leaders had personal diaries. The blogs allowed to substitute the paper diary for a web equivalent, granting their owners with a chance of sharing the ideas with the rest of the world.
When discussing the pros and cons of the web logs it is important to keep in mind that there are at least two parties of blog users: the author and the readers.
From the author’s point of view, the comparative easiness of blogging is an obvious plus: there is no need to master the html needed for a personal website, the basic usability features are built into the user-friendly interface. The webmaster qualities are not necessary for blogging, and it allows to concentrate on the contents.
Secondly, blogs offer a comparative freedom of speech (some have filters for swear-words or adult pictures or video content but the overall writing is not controlled or edited by the administration of the resource).
Anyone can read the blog entry unless it is made “personal” or “friends-only”, which basically means any internet user may read your message. And here comes the first drawback: the author will have to tolerate any comments and feedback from the other users, including the spam, which is hard to filter and detect. Spamming can become real issue for the blog owners: thousands of bots may attack the blog entries and post irrelevant comments or advertisements of other sites that lower the quality of the blog contents and diminish its value.
Another question is how secure is the personal information stated in the “private” or “friends-only” entry. Obviously, the access is granted to the administrators and the technical specialists of the blogging system. Secondly, there is always a possibility of breaking the password and accessing the personal information the author was willing to keep secret or between friends. There is never a hundred percent information security in terms of the world wide web because of the insecure online scripts. Violating the blog contents via the security breech is especially funny and rewarding for the trespassers in case the blog belongs to some famous person. In terms of public relations, blogging is both effective and comparatively cheap tool for sharing information and improving the image of the person, goods or services, however it may also represent some threats. For example, Britney Spear’s Twitter account has been violated several times. Hackers posted abusive comments and, although the violation was managed in a couple of minutes, the Britney’s personal image has been attacked. This fact lead to another conclusion about the vulnerability of the blog contents and another drawback that can be considered a con: any mistake made will immediately go online and can be viewed by millions of users.
In terms of opportunities a blog is a real boon for business people trying to sell or promote any type of goods or services. Blogging may help to develop stronger relationship with the users and increase loyalty. This may be done by posting useful tips, and up-to-date information on a regular basis. From this point of view, a blog is better than a newsletter because all the information is always online and easy to access, unlike the newsletter which may be lost, deleted or archived and thus hard to reach.
Certainly, it takes time to keep a blog updated, which might be counted into the list of cons, however this parameter depends on the content and purpose of the blog. The author may notify the readers beforehand about the time or data availability not to disappoint the users.
Blogging as a public form of communication develops the writing skills and encourages the authors to organize their thoughts and ideas more clearly before posting them. For those, who master a blog to surrender oneself to graphorrhea, it is a real refuge.
Blogs can also help is gathering information, opinions, making opinion polls, receiving feedback and “keeping one’s finger on the pulse”. They provide a sense of ownership and belonging (especially in terms of communities). Community blogs is another form of interaction between the individuals that share the same interest or have knowledge of the same topic. In community blogs anyone can add a post containing the relevant information (sometimes the contents is edited by the community moderator or administrator).
What is more, brilliant bloggers may become very popular, have thousands of readers and fans, and even become famous. Pop stars, politicians and movie stars (or their PR specialists) also sometimes master a blog that serve as a source of up-to-date information about the personal or public life, plans and activities of the person in question.
From the readers point of view, the easiness of mastering a blog makes it difficult to find quality ones among millions of dull emotional outbursts and, again, the graphorrhea. Because of the daily-basis scanning of the blogs by the search engines, the entry content may reach a far greater amount of readers and no one can blame the author for spamming.
In terms of verifiability of the written content there is always a question. Literally, blogs are just the opinions of the authors, which differ, just like their tastes. On the one hand, it is real democracy, on the other – the reader can never tell which opinion is true. That is why opinions and pieces of advice gathered via blogs can not be considered verifiable. The information posted can be wrong or even dangerous, which is certainly a big drawback of the open communication the blogs offer. The person behind a nickname may be anyone, even the pictures can be fake. The possibility to change identity, at least virtually, is one of the greatest funs of the internet space. This feature may be considered both a pro and a con: a blog identity may help the author become the person he or she always wanted to, sound like an expect and post pieces of advice. At the same time the fake identity may be used for personal gain which may violate the rights of other people. One person may have several blogs, e.g. one personal blog for friends and family, another one – business, and another one depicting his or her hobby. The protagonist of the “personal” blog can be completely fictitious and the reader may never discover this fact.
Another question is the ownership of the blogs. The intellectual property is not protected, because it is hard to tell who actually owns the blog, either the host, or the administrator or the author that actually generates the posts.
Many blogs also allow to earn money by keeping its contents of high quality and interest. The traffic is always well-paid, as the advertisers invest into the projects with the largest audience accessed. The internet and blogging provide new opportunities for content and advertisement management. It is also believed to be the tool for the next generation: teenagers are believed to watch television less and spend more time online, as the Internet offers access to more unedited information and is far more interactive.
Although blogging has numerous drawbacks, it offers vast opportunities for both the authors and the readers to share thoughts, feelings, ideas and knowledge, making it one of the global instruments of communication and interaction. In time new forms of documenting thoughts will emerge, however, blogs, diaries, books or any other textual forms of information will continue to play a huge role in the development of the human civilization.
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