Tilly was asking some questions today about what role bloggers play in influencing culture, we wants as many opinions as possible on a series of questions so I thought I would post my answers here for you to see and give an opportunity to give your own opinion. Have a look and give your view in the spirit of online collaboration!
- What does the online sewing community mean to you? Why do you participate?
The sewing community is a real community to me, I, and lots of people these days don't belong to the 'traditional' communities of church, village, small town etc. so its harder to find like minded people in real life especially as many of skills/experiences we are looking for are no longer practised as widely. None of my close friends are sewers and although I grew up watching my mother sew & knit she died 6 years ago and its only really since her death that I've picked up sewing again. This means I don't have anyone close to me that can advise, correct, teach or just act as a sounding board therefore I read blogs. I read to find out how to do stuff, get ideas, I write to document for myself what I've done. When I first started my blog I wanted lots of people to read it and see what I've done so I used to put my posts on link parties, recently I've given up on that as I've become an ad hoc blogger and what I blog about is for me rather than anyone else's approval.
- What are your favourite examples of projects initiated by sewing bloggers that capture this spirit of collaboration, creativity and innovation?
I'm participating in my first sew along (Sewaholic Crescent Skirt) and it does feel good to be part of a collaborative exercise. Previously I've watched sewalongs but this time I thought its time to engage. I like what Mena has done this year to with a regular theme and different contributors. Burda Style is also a great example of collaboration.
- Who are the “leaders” in the sewing blogosphere? Is everyone / can anyone be a leader?
I think anyone can be a leader but not necessarily of their own making. The bloggers I feel 'lead' me are usually very talented with skills & knowledge and the generosity to share them with the rest of the world not for material gain. Not everyone is a leader, in my view its the people with something interesting to say or an interesting method of saying it that can be leaders.
These people include but aren't limited to Gertie, Tasia/Sewaholic, So Zo, Mena, Dana, Rae, Disney. I think its clear to see when lots of similar project appear on multiple blogs, e.g. Sewaholic design, Collette designs, Liberty fabrics etc. how these memes move around the blogosphere and we influence each other. I think the confidence to expect people to follow you when you suggest something as well as a JFDI attitude highlights leaders on the blogosphere just as they do in real life. Blog life and real life aren't that different IMO, we might exaggerate somethings, embellish others but at the end of the day the personality that comes across on a blog must be a fairly accurate one as I don't think we would be able to maintain a false persona for very long! I think the leaders change over time as well as its seems quite common for bloggers to burn out, I subscribe to loooooooots of blogs and every so often you see a women announce they are taking a back seat from blogging for a while as its taking over their real life and impacting on other things.
- Are you involved in any other network of makers, whether online or offline?
No unfortunately as I say I have no real life sewers but I wish I were although I would probably doubt my value to join such a group!
- What makes sewing blogs unique?
I don't think sewing blogs are unique, my OH plays role playing games using models and he's involved in a number of forums which have similar ebbs and flows. He's probably one of the leaders in that area and that's due to his extensive knowledge of the hobby, skill at creating and painting models and his lets-just-do-it attitude which results in him organising at least 2 meet ups a year for people all over the UK (& Europe) to get together to play, swop & talk about their hobby. I'm sure there are other forums/blogs for other hobbies/interests which have a similar pattern. I also follow other blogs (kids hair do blogs – Babes in Hairland, Cute Girls, Princess and her Hair, GirlyDos) and I’ve seen similar behaviour across those blogs, some bloggers have the talent to do something different but more importantly the charisma, style & presentation to make people pay attention. Its all about making connections which as I said before aren't always in your real life. Whereas previously you might have soldiered on on your own or even given up now the internet has provided lines of communication to find people who like what you like and have information to share.
So in summary I think bloggers of any genre can influence culture, either within that genre but also in the wider arena. But of course like any zeitgeist it will change and move and fall out of fashion. The use of blogs/forums will remain a valuable method of showing/influencing the zeitgeist in the short term (who knows that technology will bring in the future) whilst the current ‘leader’ will ebb and flow as society looks for new interests and individuals rise and fall in that interest.