Well, I started another experiment and put up a personal journalling blog and discovered the vast difference between that blog and our class blog. Our class blog has more or less a topic of focus (media and its effects on us, our thinking and society), but still even with that focus, the discussion tends to go off of on a wide variety of subjects and it starts to become a pressure on our attention span.
Notice how our topics are no longer held in one space. We start one topic in one spot but it gets commented on another. After some time went by, I figured out that I might as well comment anywhere and the whole discussion more or less gets interwoven into each other. For example, I am writing in response to a topic in Mindy's blog, but I am also sort of answering something Bernard, Tammy and Wasted Ink have raised. At the same time, I am also carrying forward some of my own points. I could have choosen to post it under any topic discussion of any other class blogs, but that would mean going back a bit in time (on those other blogs) and risk not being read, so my ego tells me to write on my blog as a most current posting, and weave everything together there, trusting the process that the discussion will be carried forward anywhere within the bigger class blog.
In conclusion, our class blog has a built-in interlinking, inter-reference, that maybe other blogs which are started individually don't have. That makes it an interesting interaction and the subject of focus gives it the 'intelligent' content that Bernard mentioned.
The majority of blogs out there, (which by the way haven't been out there for very long) are mostly about the internet, blogging, and current affairs written by media personalities. Few have chosen to focus on academic or research because of its the limited of scope of readers. So I wonder what influences the popular bloggers to blog. Have a look at some reasons here, and for list of popular sites at the NITLE Blog Census and blogcount. Some interesting finds about the blogging process are Jill Walker's Links and power: The political economy of linking on the web and Clay Shirky's (as recommended by Mark) "A groups is its own worst enemy", "Power laws, weblogs and inequality" (interesting reads among many others found there). Also see Google loves blog.
When I compare the mechanics of the class blog with my new personal blog in which I have found it difficult to focus my thoughts and allow the writing to flow, because there was such a wide variety of topics that I would have to select from my "multiple selves". So, I am forced to choose,...and to choose what I think will be relevent to the reader. Who do I think my readers are? Firstly, my group of friends whom I've sent my URL. But I am also forced to be conscious of the public as well, so I have to self-censor my writing. (Mindy, I guess that answers your question in some way, I have to show only a part of myself, but that begs the question, "Is that not my real self?") And I am forced to edit and check my reference and try to find an appropriate link to make my points. So...yes, Bernard, the spontaineity of it is gone. I had to revert to writing on paper without worrying about my spelling, the grammar, the logic or even sense, of my thoughts, and only then could the intuitive messages or personal meaning (which, for me is a more productive writing) come out. Then because I've committed myself to my blog, I have to go through the pretty tedious process of making it presentable to the public. But then the value of doing that comes from having shared what I have 'discovered', because knowledge is nothing if it is not shared.
(Something else I have to figure out, how could I have said all that in a few short sentences, which seems to be the style that blogging demands?)