Blogging: Conversations with strangers?

I was trying to add Sam Gentile to my FaceBook friends list this morning and he declined on the basis that he didn’t know me. And rightfully so; we’ve never met, he’s never seen me, he’s never even heard my name before. But I feel I know him. I’ve been reading his blog for the last couple of years and I love his “New and Notable” posts which provide a great source of reading. This breeds a strange one-sided relationship where a reader knows and even trusts a blogger, but the blogger is oblivious to someone reading his blog. (Once I explained to Sam who I was, he was perfectly happy to add me in)

And Sam isn’t the only person I have this type of relationship with. I also read Scott Hanselman, Hugh MacLeod, Robert Scoble, Andy Beard, Seth Godin and a host of other bloggers. I read their posts, I mention them to friends/colleagues, I use their work, yet they don’t have the faintest idea who I am. Am I’m sure there are people who read this blog, whether on a regular or occasional basis; who are familiar with me, my posts and my work, yet I wouldn’t know who they were or anything about them.

It does bring things into perspective however. I always thought of blogging as a conversation, initiated by a blogger and responded to by readers leaving comments, however it’s a bit more one-sided than that. A reader will absorb a post, but more likely than not, won’t be leaving a comment or contributing to the conversation, leaving a clue as to who they are and why they are here. And this is where social networks start to pick up where blogs leave off. Social networks make the relationship more balanced. Now that I have “befriended” all the people mentioned above on FaceBook, they can check out my profile page and learn a bit about me. If they’re so inclined, that is.

(On an aside, there’s a scaling issue here. You may have thousands of people as friends on your social network, but how many do you really know? But well talk about that some other day)

What about you, do you have any problems “connecting” with bloggers you read?


  1. I’m sure it’s a problem that celebrities and their fans have dealt with for ages.

    The problem with FaceBook is that friendship is an all or nothing affair. Add too many people you don’t really know and the important updates about people you really do know get lost in the melee.


  2. Ah, but we do know each other

    1. I know what you write about because I also read you blog as often as possible, either the direct feed or more often than not in a meme tracker, and now Facebook

    2. I have commented on your blog on occasion, and you comment on my blog

    3. We have lots of shared blogging friends

    Facebook is a useful tool in expanding how others can access your information, though I am sure overall my blog tells people a lot more about me than my Facebook profile

  3. Hi, I’m reading via the Bumpzee No Nofollow | I Follow | DoFollow Community RSS feed. 🙂

    I really don’t have a problem with connecting with the bloggers I read – generally it’s a back-and-forth relationship where I comment on posts of theirs I like and vice versa. I also don’t use Facebook, Myspace or Linkedin, so I’ve never encountered the same type of issues you have faced.

  4. Owen, I know just what you mean.

    As a blog author I try to engage with all of my visitors, and definitely with anyone that visits more than once! I always check out who has befriended me on Social Networking sites, and unless they prove to be offensive in some way will usually reciprocate.

    As a blog reader, it’s much harder, especially on the higher trafficked blogs – in fact I’ve found I comment less on those blogs, simply because I know the comment will be ignored. I much prefer the conversational style of the smaller blog.

    I will throw another brownie point Andy Beard’s way though, as despite being a popular and well commented blog, he’s never shy of giving links, or visiting commenters blogs, and he’s earned a lot of respect for doing that.

  5. @Andy: Thanks for your kind comments. I agree with you, your blog tells people more about you than Facebook, but it doesn’t tell you that much about your readers/commentors. Facebook helps level the playing field by providing both parties with the same sort of information.

    Don’t get me wrong, I still think blogging is an extremely powerful media by which individuals can express themselves and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. This post was really a trail of thought that came out from Sam pointing out that he had no idea who I was.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.