MyBlogLog and the End of Lurking

After getting a couple of messages via MyBlogLog, I decided I would take a closer look and see whether it actually has anything to offer. Sure enough, there are a couple of people I know bouncing around there … with David Armano, Ariel Waldman, Marcus Brown and Mike Sansone making appearances … so at least there are some faces that I can recognise in the MyBlogLog sea of community.

Now, I completely understand the concept of personalising your site or your brand … and I totally get my friend Mike Wagner’s Own Your Own Brand philosophy, but I have got to say that I don’t necessarily like to see my face on the web. I don’t know if it is modesty or shame but you will notice there are very few photos of me here. In fact, the first photo of me to appear on the web was posted along with my profile over at MarketingProfs (Ann Handley has a lot to answer for). And I do find it bizarre to see my face appearing in the MyBlogLog widget that is spreading like a rash across the web. Perhaps I would not mind so much if it showed your face AFTER you left the site — but to arrive at a site and see this seems strange.

And as I considered this, it made me also think through the concept of lurking. Because there I was, visiting Drew McLellan’s site (where I hardly ever leave a comment), and it struck me that Drew could now tell that I had been visiting. Does this mean that the lurkers can no longer drop by unannounced? Will this make us more or less adventurous? Does this change the relationship between blogger and blogged to?

While I can’t imagine that this changes anything too much, the addition of personal images does play a part in HOW we select links. For example, are you more or less likely to click the picture of an attractive blogger over a less attractive one? What about an ugly blogger? Take a look here and see which images you choose to click on. Are your choices completely random?

Remember when we used to say that the best looking people on the web were poets?

17 thoughts on “MyBlogLog and the End of Lurking

  1. That’s really interesting. I need to check out MyBlogLog. I did your little test to see which images I was drawn to click on, and I find that I’m not necessarily drawn to checking out the “attractive” bloggers sites, but rather the ones who look like they would be interesting (and would therefore have interesting ideas).
    There are definitely preconceptions that go along with the photos. For example, no matter how gorgeous the blogger is, I am turned off by posed photos of people wearing business suits. That just says “blah, boring, I have no imagination” to me. In the photo, I want to see the person being real and unguarded, not a contrived public image.
    Something I just thought of–when you posted your five Z-listers last month, and described Luc (mindblob) as being “rakishly handsome”, I speeded over to his blog to check out the handsome devil! But what made him memorable wasn’t that he looked attractive. It was that he presented himself in a goofy, clever photo collage. He appeared interesting and not afraid to poke fun at himself.
    Bottom line–“interesting” beats out plain old “attractive” every single time for me.

  2. Gavin,
    I don’t know what to make out of mybloglog. I registered a few months ago and just started playing with it this week. It was like walking into a strange party and being relieved when you spotted a few familiar faces.
    I don’t know if I’ll use the widget on my blog. I’m kind of picky about what I put there.
    I’ll check it out for a bit more, but if I’ll need to continue to see “proof of life” there or I’ll abandon it.
    You make some interesting points about “attractive” bloggers. I think one of the less desirable human traits is that we are naturally drawn to phyisical appearance (at least initially).

  3. Gavin,
    I’m not sure I can point to any tangible benefit of MyBlogLog other than its yet another way to connect/discover smart, thought-provoking bloggers.
    As for the less than anonymous lurking — when I see someone’s face in the log, I think of it as a friend dropping by to see if you’re home. I think we all lurk much more than we comment. Otherwise, we’d never get any work done!
    My take on MBL is that it adds another layer of personalization to our shared community. Hard to think that’s a bad thing.

  4. I really like Sharon’s insight. I’m also not big on posed-in-a-biz-suit photos, I like fun, silly ones that tell a story or make people giggle (which is why I LOVE mindblob’s photo collage). I either like to get lively with my photos or to post photos of me with other bloggers that I’ve met so as to share the experience with readers.
    I find photos help to ‘humanize’ this experience and help us further connect with one another. It’s a fact that people most connect with graphics of humans (that’s our species). Tho’ I’m not sure I’m big on BlogLog.
    P.S. And while you’ve called yourself unattractive (again!) I still say you’re fetching.

  5. When I started blogging, I was really naive about maintaining some anonymity as I wrote and lurked around. I chose to use an old nickname comprised of my initials so people would judge my writing on its own merits and not what they thought based on my name or gender.
    But then I learned that blogging was much more about connecting and getting to know other bloggers — REAL people — and I warmed to the idea of letting myself out there a bit more. I finally put my complete name and a lot more personal info on the about page of my blog. Then the 5 little-known facts meme arrived… and I played.
    I still don’t have my photo on my blog, and I find that I’m admiring those of you bold enough to put yourselves completely out there.
    I like the community aspect of MyBlogLog that Drew mentions, but I strongly identify with what Gavin says — I would be really freaked out if I saw a photo of myself suddenly on every blog I visited!
    But I think I’d better figure out a good blogging photo soon. It’s inevitable, and I think “privacy” on the web is an illusion now more than ever.

  6. Okay, where is this damn attractive photo of you, Gavin? I simply must see and evaluate for myself:-)
    Speaking of which, you inspired me to write My Year of Living Ugly. Not posted yet…in due time.

  7. Gavin, this reminded me of a famous cartoon of one dog at a computer talking to another dog saying, “on the Internet no one knows you are a dog.”
    Maybe that won’t be true much longer!
    I wrote about it in a post titled: On the Internet No Ones Knows You’re A Dog.
    Keep creating,

  8. Hi Gavin, it’s good to be skeptical for just a bit before jumping into something new! I didn’t jump right in, but Mike Sansone encouraged his readers to try it so I did. It’s just fun to see what bloggers look like. And I have to agree with Drew that it’s fun to see who drops by even if they do not comment. It shows they’re interested in what your’re doing, though they might not have a lot to say that day in response. Thoughts?

  9. Great conversation – and a necessary one I think.
    My perspective is similar to Drew’s in that if I’m at a coffee shop and you walk in – as we see each other, I’m waving.
    When I visit a blog and see folks I recognize, I smile (and sometimes wave, even in private:-))
    As I recognize names, faces and blog site titles (servantofchaos), I’ll join communities of blogs I read. I stray away from silouhettes and IM-style names. We’re beyond the days of AOL screen names.
    From a traffic and community generator, MyBlogLog has been a great addition. I’ve reached and read blogs – and connected with people – I might not otherwise have known about.
    Anonymity on MBL is still easy (log out when you’re done and you photo won’t appear). Here’s an experiment. Next time you’re on a blog, click on the RED X that appears in your photo. Then go back logged out and see if you photo is still there. I’ve not used the RED X, but its worth a shot.
    Let’s look at it this way…
    You can drive through Starbucks and remain anonymous, or you could park and come in, letting everyone see your smile.

  10. All … thanks for contributing your excellent thinking to this topic!
    One of the things about lurking is that you can do so without identification. This means that you can drop by, check things out and then disappear relatively anonymously. But the fact that your photo appears seems to be an endorsement of some kind … and as REPUTATION is important to us blogging types, what happens if you end up with your face splashed across the site of a blogger whose ideas or practices you DO NOT support?
    I am also a little hesitant to throw my support behind a system that strokes our egos a little while building a business that is based on our own goodwill. I am still thinking through this — I think it is quite a complicated area — and there are plenty of questionable “MySpace-like” elements that come with MBL that are of dubious value in building a community.
    I might ask Mike Sansone about his thoughts … but my jury is still out on this one.
    And speaking of juries being out … my current photo is up on the ABOUT page.

  11. I didn’t pit the widget on MySpace page because many people like to lurk and I don’t want to scare them off. I do tend o click on the pix of hot guys first, I admit, or funny cartoons.

  12. I’m not a huge fan of leaving my mug all over the place… but nonetheless this is broadening my thinking, especially your comments, Mike. But I’m still feeling on the fence about the widget generally. The bottom line is that I guess I like a little more control about where I’m “seen.”
    (And speaking of Mike, that New Yorker cartoon he references happens to be one of my personal favorites!)

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