The next generation of blogs

The next generation of blogs
: We politically pontificating paunchy bloggers tend to think this is blogging. But as Clay Shirky reminds me at every opportunity, there’s a broader if not bigger world of blogs out there in Live Journal. And there’s a huge world of youth blogs there and in Xanga with weblog rings for practically ever school in America.

The Star-Ledger had this much-talked-about story on teen blogs yesterday:

Anyone in the world can read Greg Fitzgerald’s blog — except his parents.

“They know that I have it, but they don’t read it. Kind of because I don’t want them to,” according to Greg, a 15-year-old sophomore at Franklin Township High School in Somerset County.

When we asked kids if they kept blogs (short for “Weblog,” the term for online journals), Greg wasn’t the only one who explained that, while blogs are available to any reader who stumbles across them on the Internet, there’s an unwritten rule that if parents read them, they’re snooping.

“It’s a little different if someone from school is reading it than if someone who lives in the same house would read it,” said Greg. “That would be kind of awkward.”

Everybody has an audience — or as Clay and Jay Rosen and I discussed over lunch yesterday (aren’t you jealous?): Everybody has a public. But it doesn’t include parents!

Hell, that’s not just a matter of youth. Same thing happened when my parents started reading my blog. And then there was the day my father left a comment…

: Teen blogs are also the subject of a long story in tomorrow’s NY Times Magazine by Emily Nussbaum.

She captures the the amazing new sociology of weblogs (and forums) and youth. I’ve seen it close to home: It’s a very social activity; they meet people; they talk about all sorts of things; but that does not carry over to face-to-face contact; that’s different. Says The Times:

J.’s sense of private and public was filled with these kinds of contradictions: he wanted his posts to be read, and feared that people would read them, and hoped that people would read them, and didn’t care if people read them. He wanted to be included while priding himself on his outsider status. And while he sometimes wrote messages that were explicitly public — announcing a band practice, for instance — he also had his own stringent notions of etiquette. His crush had an online journal, but J. had never read it; that would be too intrusive, he explained. …

In daily life, most bloggers don’t talk about what they say online. One boy engaged in vociferous debates on Mideast policy with another blogger, a senior a year ahead of him. Yet the two never spoke in school, going only so far as to make eye contact in the halls.

: Clay Shirky adds:

Many of my students, already old old old at 25+, expect anyone they meet their age to have a Friendster page