Blogging and the virtual neighborhood

Cynthia CloskeyGeneral

Porch by sonjalovas

Blogs are front porches reinvented for a digital age, perhaps—platforms that take the inside out and bring the outside in, corridors of courtesy in a digital and fast-paced world.

Kathryn McCollough considers the role of porches in community life, and whether blogs might be a form of virtual porch. (Thanks to Chris at for linking to this thoughtful post.)

People often talk of social media replacing the water cooler as the place where people connect and exchange ideas. All social media are not equal in their ability to help us communicate though — Twitter emphasizes speed over nuance, Facebook reinforces existing connections but does less well bringing new connections to the fore. Blogging has its own characteristics as well.In a blog post, I have the space and time to lay out an idea and the thinking behind it, to link to related resources, to use any medium (text, graphics, photos, video) to communicate. I like having these tools, but they require confidence to use — confidence that what I’m writing is right, is worth sharing, is worth others taking the time to read and absorb it. They also require effort, some time and concentration to put thoughts in order, or at least to put words in order.

Pretty clearly, not everyone feels the need to go to the effort, nor feels the confidence to lay out their thoughts. That’s why the front porch analogy and water cooler analogy don’t quite fit blogs and other social media: You don’t need to work at connecting when sitting on your front porch, greeting neighbors as they walk by. Even Twitter requires you to at least believe that your 140 character thoughts will be of interest to someone, if only yourself.

Maybe writing a blog is more like throwing an open house. You set up your space and offer things to enjoy, send out a wide invitation, and then hope that people will come by and spend time with you.

What metaphor would you use to show how blogging and reading blogs fits into modern life?

Photo credit: Porch by sonjalovas on Twitter