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I launched a blog years ago to support my book The Startup Garden, and eventually let it go dark. Or dim, I suppose....


It just got too hard to write frequently, and I lost sight of what the site was meant to do. This month I've been more regular, as it were, and plan to continue to post until I acheive a simple goal: find my true blog-voice.
My book was written to help folks move forward with their entrepreneurial ventures, yet my site has been less focused. At any rate, resuming the discipline has got me thinking about a topic far too many of us folks who blog write about, which is what blogs are for....
The topic brings to mind one of my favorite poems, by Tom Wayman, titled What Good Poems Are For. I hope that I'm not violating any copyright law here by reprinting it in its entirety. I couldn't find a link to it anywhere on line. Here goes:
What Good Poems Are For
To sit on a shelf in the cabin across the lake
where the young man and the young woman
have come to live–there are only a few books
in this dwelling, and one of them
is this book of poems.
To be like plants
on a sunlit windowsill
of a city apartment–all the hours of care
that go into them, the tending and watering,
and yet to the casual eye they are just present
--a brief moment of enjoyment.
Only those who work on the plant
know how slowly it grows
and changes, almost dies from its own causes
or neglect, or how other plants
can be started from this one
and used elsewhere in the house
or given to friends.
But everyone notices the absence of plants
in a residence
even those who don't have plants themselves.
There is also (though this is more rare)
Bob Smith's story about the man in the bar up North,
a man in his 50's, taking a poem from a new book Bob showed him
around from table to table, reading it aloud
to each group of drinkers, because, he kept saying,
the poem was about work he did, what he knew about,
written by somebody like himself.
But where could he take it
except from table to table, past the fuck offs
and the Hey, that's pretty goods? Over the noise
of the jukebox and the bar's TV,
past the silence of the lake,
a person is speaking
in a world full of people talking.
Out of all that is said, these particular words
put down roots in someone's mind
so that he or she likes to have them here–
these words that no one was paid to write
that live with us for a while
in a small container
on the ledge where the light enters.
"A person is speaking in a world full of people talking."
Yeah, that pretty much says it all to me. That's what I want other blogs to do for me, and above all, that's what I aspire to do.
To me the vast majority of blogs are good ideas gone bad. So much noise and clutter and self-techno-love of what can be done rather than what should be done. Too much tagging and linking and spinning and flashing and just not enough speaking. They make me feel anxious when I visit them, fearful that I'm missing the point, or don't have the time to visit the links, or won't download the coolest new viral piece-o-intellectual-trinket.
I'm not anti-technology, nor anti-fun geeky features. I just believe they should be used proportionally, instrumentally. Few blogs realize the promise of the medium, and I don't have the time, patience, energy, or concentration to keep up with the cacophonous blogosphere. And as a result I've also put less and less mind and material on this site.
Recently Seth Godin commented that blogging is the new poetry, which is a scary thought. That would mean that the only people who earn a living are those who teach the craft as opposed to those who excel at it. It would mean that the majority of the work is sentimental, inscrutable, pretentious, and generally irrelevant (and this from a guy who loves poetry.)
And while he may believe that the main reason that most bloggers blog is "not for commercial gain or to find a large audience of strangers. Instead, it's a form of self-expression, a chance to be creative or share some ideas," go out and find me one serious poet who wouldn't kill for commercial gain or widespread acclaim.
I think great blogs should do a few simple things: serve as a medium for individuals to speak in their own voice. They should start conversations. They should realize the promise of the technology. And as I discover more on this topic, I'll post it.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Ehrenfeld is a former writer and editor with business publications such as Inc. Magazine and the Harvard Business Review. He has worked as a freelance writer, editor, and general business-writing factotum for the past nine years, and continues to do so from his home base of Cambridge, Mass. His first book is titled The Startup Garden: How Growing A Business Grows You.