MyBlogLog My Self?

It all started earlier this year. Around January or so I started seeing more and more instances of that intriguing little widget so many bloggy types are plopping their right navs. See? To the Right there? My Recent Readers? (Are you there, my gentle one?) Being the pursuer of all shiny objects that I am, I got myself the widget and became quite obsessed with it for a while. I even made it orange. For style.

2007 has been the year of the profile image for me. Did you notice? Gingajoy is connoted by mere citrus fruit no more. Instead I decided that an honest-to-god photo was the way to go. This stems in part from all those "how do communities work?" "how do we represent identity?" type questions I've been asking lately. I had resisted a photo, at first for the sake of anonymity, which became less of a concern, and then because I was not sure if I wanted to personalize or stamp the blog in this way. I wanted the writing to speak for itself... (shuddup).

Oh, and I also did not want to distract you with my dazzling beauty.

Photos give us a sense of intimacy and connection. How much is this false or any less "authentic" than the personae we create for F2F communications? Who are we seeing in those tiny snapshots? Who do we want to see? Why is there a certain pleasure in looking at those faces in your sidebar? This are some Big Questions. And if I attempt to answer them here, this post is never going to make it. So let me spew out some of my initial and sketchy thoughts on the MyBlogLog tools and see what you others think.
Who's with me??

(and let me say up front these are my thoughts only--anything vaguely suspect or reprehensible in the following can be attributed to me, and me alone)

MyBlogLog confessions

When I first got the widget, I found myself automatically drawn to other MyBlogLoggers, because I could go and stamp my face on their site. No commenting required... They knew I'd been. They felt the love.

This is great for me on many levels because I can show support without summoning up something terribly clever or insightful to place in the comments section. In this way, it's a bit like drive-by commenting. You can very swiftly stop by a place, deposit your mark (there's that metaphor again) and the obligation to comment is considerably diminished.

And...if there is no comment there is a nice picture of that face, which, depending on readership, can remain in that nav, smiling beneficently, for quite some time. "I simply must drop by Ginga's place" you think to yourself....

In this way and others MBL's a networking tool par excellence, and (perhaps) more to the point it's a great way to bring traffic to your site. For instance if you go into your MBL communities you can immediately see who "belongs" to certain sites you love. You can then go and visit these foreign-types and go get your face on their blogs (and, uhm, maybe they'll return the favor...). It's a tool that breeds community spontaneously and efficiently.

And yes. It can get a little mercenary. Maybe?

I will admit, there have been quite a few times when I've looked at my own widget and been pleasantly surprised to see some newbies there, especially when that person falls outside my usual crowd. In fact those faces invariably look like quite a different group compared to those who fill up my comments section, and I've come across several fab bloggers as a result. I think there are many positive advantages to tools like MyBlogLog and I certainly enjoy having a more tangible sense of community.

Lurkers are Made of People....

And now even if they are not commenting (which is cool with me) they are at least embodied somewhat.

But. I do wonder sometimes about how the tool can be exploited. (Spammers are already having some fun with it--which is inevitable. I was quite disappointed when I realized that this pretty boy to the right was only interested in me as a potential visitor to his e-card sites. Clever, though, using that face to get me to check out his ass. Totally worked).

How much can a face, a "quick popping my head in for a visit," supplant a written comment? Does it matter if it does? How much is this immediately gratifying sense of community, a posse in your right nav, actually very superficial--like a race to get as many friends as possible into your Facebook Profile, and activity which certainly preoccupies a lot of my student's time?

I don't have answers to these questions at all--there aren't any clean ones (and nor should there be). But as we increasingly live online lives, and rank our worth in terms of comments and links and communities of faces, I think it's definitely worth thinking about.

Any thoughts?

Edited to Add: Case in point. Without MyBlogLog, I would not have realized that Jean Luc Picard had a blog. Sir. If you are reading this, I would be honored if you'd stamp my blog with your stunning visage.


Redneck Mommy said...

Well, I only joined MyBlogLog so that I could leave my stamp over at Mrs. Chicky's place. It really creeps her out when she sees my mug staring back at her.

(She secretly lusts after me...)

But I decided to replace my big redheaded cartoon on my blog with a pic of my actual self, because I wanted my blog to be a more actual representation to who I am.

I am proud of my words, my profanity, and my lame little puns. I wanted to take ownership of these words I put forth into the cyberworld by losing some of my anonymity and stepping up to the plate.

But I really, really like it when people tell me I'm cute.

I'm vain like that.

Kelly said...

I love the face-to-the-blog idea. (I'd love it a bit more if my own face was a bit less adolescent in its zittiness, however.)

DD said...

Of course my avatar won't show up if I read through bloglines, which I use and loathe in that respect. Blogline readers do not show in stats.

However, I'm thinking I may have to steal the picture of that hottie and use it as my new avatar. That should get them over to my site right nicely, no?

So, anyway...I guess my point is is that my avatar is only going to show if I decide to comment, which of course then you will know I was here two fold. But it does give me pause to wonder whether it's better to pop in to show my boxing babies and leave no comment, or if I bother to come all the way through via bloglines, am I obligated to then comment?

Confused? Good. Me, too.

Amanda said...

Hmmm, I have been intrigued by this, though oddly intimidated. I have no issues with pictures, I bravely bared a belly shot for MommaK, but I think I get a bit hung up on whether I am welcome. You see the different circles, I hesitate to say hierarchy, but there do seem to be tiers based on popularity/readership. I guess I worry that my mug up there will be the sort of "Which of these kids is doing her own thing" and stand out as not belonging, though I would dearly like to belong. Good lord, but seeing your neuroses up in black and white suremakes them seem ridiculous. Perhaps I should just go get one of the damn things since my fear doesn't keep my from leaving long, self-incriminating comments.

By the way, I was glad to see a new post. I've become somewhat addicted to your site.

Karen said...

New to blogging and newer to bloglog, so the same faces do stay for a while, but it's nice to see them and I mostly have used it to find more bloggers that I like - there are so many, but the communities help sift through. I do much prefer comments on my log than just new pics, every now and again I get both, which is great.

Mrs. Chicky said...

Now this is interesting. I've been feeling almost the opposite about MBL in that I can no longer lurk at certain places without leaving a comment because they know I've been there.

And how dare I visit someplace without leaving a comment? The horror.

But those are my hang-ups. I like your version better.

(And I don't know what Redneck Mommy is talking about. The lust? It is hers for me. Now that I've seen your pictures I'm saving myself for you. Rwaarr.)

Bon said...

i joined MBL back in January when i was first discovering other blogs (i was slow) and thought it was nifty. then i got an email two days later asking me to pay...which i still suspect was spam, but never bothered to sort out. so i only have one contact, and never quite figured out how to add more. the learning curve of mastering anything new, no matter how simple, seems to be beyond me, timewise, these days...

i need a maid or something.

but, if i fully get MBL working on my own site, i'd still be sad if the faces showed up but the comments didn't. i like the faces...like showing my own...like Redneck mommy, i'm vain. ;) but the comments feed my vanity more than other faces.

if Cap'n Picard is on MBL, i'll have to figure the damn thing out and lure him over to my place.

Blog Antagonist said...

Hmmmm. I tried to use MyBlogLog a while back because it seemed like a cool concept.

But I just couldn't get it to work properly and gave up. I only just barely got my Blogrolling blogroll functioning. It was sheer luck that I figured out how to make the font small enough that it didn't push my sidebar way down to the bottom of my blog.

I'm going to leave well enough alone for now, because I have this weird knack for totally screwing things up without having the slightest idea how I did it.

I'm glad it's working for you. I like your fruit, and I like your pic. :?)

Jackie said...

I'm loving MBL. I've already made a few new virtual friends because of it. I just feel kind of guilty when people visit me because I don't really consider myself a blogger. But I guess they do get to see who is visiting their blog and that's why I set up my "site."

And can I say I'm so glad you decided to post your picture. I alway knew you had red hair but it was hard to picture what you actually looked like (you're gorgeous btw)

I found Gunfighter because of MBL, too - so all in all really enjoying MBL :-)

Sweetney said...

thanks for the blog crack, betch.

(see: http://www.mamapop.com far-right column)

slouching mom said...

I can't! I can't! I can't post after sweetney.


Where was I?

Oh, I'm either too stupid or too old to use MBL. Probably both. I should have also added: too fat right now.

So I'm with bon, at least on the can't-really-figure-it-out front. She's not fat, though, she's pretty. As are you.

Shit. My self-image is not good today.

Signing out.

bubandpie said...

I'm holding out on MBL.

(a) I don't want anything to distract me from Library Thing, which I'm still loving right now.

(b) I think the faces-without-comments thing would freak me out. I already have those days when I see someone's URL on SiteMeter and think, "Why didn't she comment? It's because she hated my post, isn't it? It was a crappy post..." (*sob*).

Mrs. Davis said...

I think of it the same way as you -- that leaving my little face on someone's widget can almost be as good as a comment. And the whole concept of "showing your face" (rather than an avatar) as part of community building is very interesting.

Mimi said...

Jean Luc Piccard left me a comment too! I'm giggling like a little school girl!

I have a thing for bald men with accents...

Fairly Odd Mother said...

Yes, all of this is very nice although it would require finding a photo of ME somewhere. Yes, I have 10,000 photos of the children but only one of me taken alone in the past year (and it was a 'self portrait' of me in the snow, so it is oh, so lovely).

flutter said...

I like MBL, for all of the reasons you have stated, even though I had a way scary run-in with someone who thought they new more about me than they did because of my picture.

Oh, The Joys said...

Just for kicks I have added every single face I have ever seen on my blog as a "contact" on MBL - the result is that I feel like I have a record of the stream of people flowing by and I like that, I think that is interesting for some reason.

I tend to comment...but I hadn't thought of the marketing logic you presented.

I am now worried about Bub & Pie - I often read her and don't always comment... must go make sure that is o.k.!

Miscellaneous-Mum said...

LOL- well you see my mug a lot then, and i dont post nearly as much as I'd like. Case in point why: right now I have a nursing baby on the breast and about a half dozen people screaming in my ear and I'm like, LET ME READ IN PEACE!

Happy I de-lurked to tell you that? No? Oh, go on, humour me :)

Mad Hatter said...

And what about those weeks, like this one, where I get behind in my reading and then spend an entire night in front of the screen getting caught up. Do all my regulars then despise me b/c they haven't seen my mug for a week?

Will I, will others feel less tempted to comment. Will comment conversations (for which I am a whore) start to die off?

I've actually never heard of MBL 'til reading this although I have seen the sidebar banners everywhere. These concerns, then, are completely knee-jerk.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

No sooner said than done. I'm on your BlogLog now. As you said, I've noticed a few new faces on mine as well. It makes me go and explore them.

karrie said...

Well, now I have to comment. :)

I understand what B&P is saying. I felt that way at first when I saw new faces who kept visiting but never joined the conversation.

And I had a picture but it was wearing a winter hat,so I switched it to Pigpen--joke abt my son who likes to strip nekkid and roll in public sandboxes-- and promptly forgot.

Karen said...

Well, it's official, mybloglog is taking me at least towards the final frontiers of the blogosphere. (I'm not sure how much further I want to go) After clicking on your link to find Jean-Luc Picard's blog and almost immediately saw his face in mybloglog. Honestly, I just thought I was gonna fine more mommy blogs to read. So, I guess, overall, mybloglog is exceeding my expectations.?.

Lindyloo said...

Jean Luc Picard has a blog??!!! Now that's one bald Brit I'd like to shag!! De-lurked to tell you that!

ozma said...

Does this mean I never have to comment again?

Joy, you always ask the most awesome questions!

moosh in indy. said...

I've admired yours from afar but never felt myself popular enough to have one, did you know they hand these things out to anyone with an email address and a blog? So I have one now, if nothing else it will further help my therapy of realizing that my validation in life doesn't have to come from comments. (But if I need some I can track down those who didn't comment and spew potty words in their general direction.)
Wanna be the first to pop MBL's cherry? If you hurry you just may get to, tempting I know.

Mimi said...

Ah, but you have photos turned off in your comments?!

I was thinking as I read this ... ah, but this sounds a little facebook-y. But then you said it.

(So much for insightful and clever from me tonight!)

Those kinds of widgets strike me as kinda sign-my-yearbook terror inducers. I'm not cool. Doubt I'll become so. If lurkers wanna lurk, so be it. Wanna comment? Yay! I do find them a little intimidating to look at on other peoples' sites.

Eeep. Now I'm sounding like a technophobe hermit. Good thing there's no photo with that.


Mimi said...

o wait. there's the photos. i'm a dummy.

Lawyer Mama said...

I love the bloglog too. I've just been too lazy so far to add it to my template. I don't comment at all the blogs I visit. In fact, at some blogs I rarely leave comments so I guess it's nice to for others to know that I've been there. Why do I fail to comment sometimes? (1) I sneak in blog reading whenever I can - at work (don't tell), while hubby is bathing the kids, etc... and I don't always have time to comment and (2) I tend to hang back at blogs that get tons of comments. Some of it is my introverted personality and some of it is because inevitably someone has made the point I want to make already & I feel a little stupid saying "Yeah, what she said."

I totally agree with you about Gunfighter. He is fabulous. He has that whole sexy/dangerous gun thing going on, wears kilts, writes really well, and adores his family. How could you not love him?

MUST go check out JLP's site!

metro mama said...

I like it 'cause sometimes I'm just too rushed or tired to comment. At least the blogger knows I've been.

Mamma said...

No I feel like I need to comment rather than just plant my visage on your widget.

wordgirl said...

I'm still very foggy about what a widget is. Is that wrong?

Jennifer said...

Well, I have to comment now. You've seen me! Well, actually my son...with a bucket on his head.

Anyhoo, I love seeing new faces on MBL. It's how I've discovered new, funny blogs to read. I don't mind if I don't get a comment, but I feel compelled to leave my own comments.

Beaman said...

There is one thing I learnt about MBL. Never trust pretty faces. They are usually businesses.

(Naturally the urge is sometimes too tempting as it was with yours.) :p

moodswingingmommy said...

I'm loving MyBlogLog too and have been thinking along the same lines as Mrs. Chicky since I like to lurk and don't always comment, especially if there are tons of comments already.

I prefer your spin on it, though.

Jean-Luc has a blog? Thanks for the link. Love him!

Two Shews said...

For me, as a relatively new blogger, MyBlogLog is fun and lets me know that contrary to my belief, there are a few folks reading it. I didn't write it for others to read per se, but what I am learning about myself is that I care, even though I pretend not to.
Also, I get all mushypants when someone whose blog I really respect reads mine right back. A little starstruck, even. But of course, with their fancy schmancy blog with 2,403 comments per post to read, I don't expect them to comment on my humble page. But I know they clicked there, darnit, and it's good enough for me.

Jeez, I am a bleek. (Blog Geek.)

Gunfighter said...

Hiya Joy!

Not only did I get a wee mention in your blog, You also made a "Soylent Green" reference.

Well done!

Oh, as for the topic... I don't have a strong opinion other than to say that I like the MyBlogLog thing... as I mentioned in my blog... this is how I socialize... I don't have the time to get out much.



Oh... and RNM is cute.

Gunfighter said...


I am so blushing now.

I have to tell you that I am highly susceptible to flattery!


modmom said...

hi there gingajoy!
you can't seeeeee me

Shannon said...

Drive-by commenting - love it! I just joined MBL and already I can see the appeal. I think it's awesome to know who's visiting you when they don't comment. It makes me feel even more validated! ;-)