I noticed that Chris Clarke of the Creek Running North blog has gone on hiatus. I can understand the temptation, having put my share of blogs and other sites in mothballs because I had run out of the time/energy/interest required to keep ’em going.

Somebody asked Chris "what’s blogging for?" Which is aggravating to me because I started one of the first blogs on the planet back in 1996. I know damn well what blogs are for, and where they came from. For those absent at the creation, it happened like this: People with personal web sites would create a running log of updates to their sites — otherwise regular readers would have a hard time finding new content buried a site’s maze of links. After awhile these logs took on lives of their own, so people took to updating their sites by updating their logs, and somebody coined the term "web log" to describe what these things were. Another guy (whom I’ve met in real life) started calling his site his "wee blog," and then, to save a few keystrokes, started calling it his "blog." Others thought it was cute so they all started calling their logs blogs. Then the blogger.com tool was created to let everybody create their own blogs and a virtual shit-storm of blogs began flooding cyberspace.

Back when there were only a few dozen of us bloggers on the planet, we all knew what we were doing and why we were doing it. I was so convinced in 1999 that blogging was been-there-done-that territory that I resisted calling myself a blogger and generally avoided the temptation to make a real live pastime out of it. Meanwhile millions of people started blogs and millions more started reading them. And now, five years after 9/11 put blogging on the map, some people probably are legitimately wondering why we’re doing this.

Here’s why we should be doing it:

  • To pass along interesting stuff we find online, because the Web’s overflowing with it. The most popular blog on earth is BoingBoing, which does one thing really well: passing along cool links found by its keepers, and shared by its gazillion readers.
  • To document the fact that we experienced life on earth (And to have our names come up first when we google them.)
  • To share our expertise and knowledge.
  • To create something original.

Why we shouldn’t be doing it:

  • To blather on our inexpert opinions about politics, society, and the generally terrible State of Things.
  • To rag on our thankless jobs, our constant loneliness, our unfaithful friends, our dysfunctional families and our generally sucky Lot in Life.
  • To perpetuate debates that will never be settled to anybody’s satisfaction.

The best bloggers are good writers, which is an asset and a trap: writing well attracts readers, readers provide validation, validation motivates continued blogging. And if, like Chris, you’re a capable writer with a lifetime’s worth of hard-won expertise on the State of Things, a blog can be an excellent megaphone. But it’s also a snare if you can’t help defending every assault on your hard-won Point of View.

Breathing heavily into the megaphone and fending off rhetorical assaults are fine you’re having fun doing it. But unless you’re a Bill Clinton type who thrives on this sort of thing, it’ll wear you out and make you want to quit blogging.

The blogging should-be’s are sustainable because they are constructive and less likely to mire you in the quicksand of Never-Ending Debate. The shouldn’t-be’s are non-sustainable because they are either negative, or circular, or self-defeating, or some combination of all three.

My goal for Two-Heel Drive is simple: keep it in the should-be column.