Archive Diving

Wolf Angel comments that when she finds a new blog she likes, that she often goes back and reads the archives, adding that this practice sometimes feels like snooping. Her comments point to the ongoing discussion of how blogs engage with questions about the distinction between public and private, and an interesting discussion ensues in the comments about blog reading practices. What I found interesting is that at least one commenter mentioned feeling no guilt about reading the correspondence of historical figures, but noting that reading blog archives does feel like snooping.

Like many of the commenters, I find that my blog practices depend a lot on my other demands at the time, but right now, with stacks of papers to grade and end-of-semester fever kicking into gear, I’ve been seking out other distractions (blogs included). Like Wolf Angel, I often read through archives of blogs that I like (usually skimming them for shared interests). In my case, I don’t read the archives of political bloggers because their writing focuses solely on the immediate or topical, but I’ve been avoiding politcal blogs in general lately, not so much out of post-election malaise (there’s still that), but out of a greater sense of investment in and connection with other academic bloggers.

As profgrrrl’s comment implies, this question also addresses how we experience it when other people read our archives (which might, in some way, be a question about how we experience ourselves as writers), and while I’m not terribly attentive to my stats (I didn’t even install Sitemeter until a few weeks ago), I generally take it as a compliment when people take some time to read my archives. At the same time, I have been feeling much more cautious this year because I’ve become much more aware of how my blog is attached to my academic identity.

In my case, I do find that people who read beyond the front page frequently read within a specific category (my movie review archives tend to get some extra hits) rather than chronologically, though I’m a little too fuzzy tonight — my allergies are still killing me — to interpret the significance of that distinction.


  1. New Kid on the Hallway Said,

    April 21, 2005 @ 12:06 am

    Yes, I’m flattered too if someone decides to read my archives (or, I would be if I knew this had happened! I check my stats a little, but tend to look at total numbers and where they come from, not which pages of the blog they’re reading).

  2. Chuck Said,

    April 21, 2005 @ 9:15 am

    You know, I really don’t check that closely, in part because I began to notice that stat counters came up with vastly different numbers of readers. I’m a little curious about where readers are coming from, but beyond that, I’m not terribly attentive (although with summer coming I might have a little more time to pay attention).

  3. mjones Said,

    April 21, 2005 @ 9:13 pm

    I guess I don’t understand why anyone would be self-conscious about people reading something that had, at some point, been on the front page for all to see. Any more self-conscious than they were about the front page itself, I mean. Like New Kid, I am flattered when someone reads my archives. Though I do remember that Jill Walker posted a sobering anecdote about a blogger discovering that her students were reading his (her?) blog and deciding to retire it. Sobering in that I felt for him (I think it was a him), but odd, too. It is the internet, after all.

  4. Chuck Said,

    April 22, 2005 @ 10:07 am

    My self-consciousness sometimes crops up when I read some of the things I wrote two years ago. There’s an occasional “I said that?!?” self-consciousness that kicks in from time to time, but again, I’m writing for an audience, and the archives are a part of that.

    I do find it odd to see my posts recontextualized by their re-appearance on other people’s blogs, especially several months or years after the fact. For me, I think it’s a recognition of just how situated a blog entry can be in a specific moment in time, a specific location.

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