Wandering through BlogExplosion, MyBlogLog, and EntreCard

Perhaps the Internet hasn’t really changed things all that much from when I was in high school over thirty years ago. Back then, the thing to do was to go down to Spring Street to hang out and see friends. There were two competing hangouts, Colonial Pizza and Pizza House. Each one attracted specific cliques. There were also places to just hang out on the street and events at the college hang out at.

Instead of hanging out with a specific clique, I would wander from one group to the next. I always felt like a bit of an outsider, an interloper, but was usually accepted, even though I might not have been told all the inner secrets of the cliques I visited.

College was much the same as I would drift from one gathering to another on the weekends. I probably came a bit closer to finding groups that I identified with, yet the pattern was the same. I found myself enjoying the works of Hermann Hesse with themes of the solitary wanderer, and one of my best friends from college often compared our relationship to that of Siddhartha and Govinda.

Some of the discussions of the past week have brought me back to these thoughts as they relate to the Internet, another recurring theme for me. The announcements of the lists of credentialed bloggers for the Democratic National Convention have riled many of my friends. It seems to many of them that felt they were rejected because they were in a clique different than the clique selected to cover the convention. As the wanderer in the group, I suggest that people try to step away from their cliques.

How many people do you know that read just DailyKos, or local progressive political blogs? How many people do you know that read just the right wing equivalents? What about the Mommy bloggers who only read other Mommy blogs? The members of Tribe.net? Salon.com? The search engine optimization folks and the make money quick online folks? The pet bloggers?

It seems like the different cliques from high school and college years ago have replicated themselves in the blogosphere.

Now, if you are a Mommy blogger or a pet blogger whose goal is simply to talk about how your little one is doing and you are happy that your friends and relatives are hearing the stories, then this post is not for you. You have found your place and it is a very good place.

Yet if you are a political blogger or a marketing blogger, I want to toss this out as a challenge to you. What are you doing to expand the circle of people listening to what you have to say?

Part of the power of the Internet is that it enables more of a discussion. How much are you reading what others have written? How are you incorporating this into your own writing? When you use tools like BlogExplosion, MyBlogLog, EntreCard, StumbleUpon, Wordless Wednesday or others, are you stopping to pay attention to what others have written, or are you just leaving your mark or collecting points to drive traffic to your site? Are you staying with your clique on these sites, or making new connections.

BlogExplosion is set up nicely for expanding connections. You are randomly taken to different sites and have to stay at the site for at least thirty seconds to receive your credit. While your there, you might as well read the blog post, and maybe interact a little bit with the site. I like visiting sites on BlogExplosion that have EntreCard and MyBlogLog. It provides a double or triple win as I drop my EntreCard and show up in the recent readers list.

When I use MyBlogLog to explore the blogosphere, I normally follow the links of recent readers. It matches my style of wandering and often seems to put me in touch with people that wander in similar ways. I’ve learned a lot from these new friends. Sometimes, I will visit people who have added me as a friend in an effort to keep the friendships active and alive. Other times I may search for people who have been tagged as interested in a specific topic if I want to spend time within a specific set of communities.

My use of EntreCard is similar. Typically, I click on the advertisements from one blog to the next, until I finally reach a blog that I’ve already read. Sometimes I start off from the people that have recently dropped cards on me. I try to visit as many of these people as possible. I also try to visit those who have dropped the most cards on me. Sometimes, I go to the advertising section and check to see that I’ve dropped cards on the most popular. However, if I’ve followed the chains of advertisements, I usually catch these sites anyway. I like to make sure that I visit the site of whomever is advertising on my blog as well.

I’ve gathered lots of EntreCard credits and am just starting to use them for advertising. So far, I haven’t had a lot of luck with my ads. Should I advertise on the hugely popular and hence very expensive sites? Should I advertise on the less popular and less expensive sites? Should I advertise on new sites? I’ll explore different strategies.

The problem with all of these ways of visiting other sites is that it takes time. Do I take time away from Second Life? Do I spend more time in Blogexplosion or EntreCard? How do I balance the time visiting other blogs with writing for my own blog? I try to get at least one post up every day.

Even the blog posts that I write follow the wandering approach. The serious niche bloggers tell me that I have to pick a niche and write just about that niche. Yet being the wanderer that I am, one day I’ll write about politics, another day about Second Life, and then group psychology, technology, marketing, law, family stuff, or anything else that strikes my fancy. It’s not great for building community, but hopefully some of the posts build can build bridges. Perhaps it is part of my own hobo code or other marks to point fellow wanderers in helpful directions.

Well, I guess that’s my comments for this morning. Now, it is time to set off and wander a little bit more.