Trying to describe a blog to my 'not-so-tech-savvy’ mother-in-law (Mil) was a real challenge. I started with the usual ‘A blog is a web log…an online diary of sorts…’
Mil: So what are other people doing in your diary? Or you in other people’s?
Me: Well, it’s not like a personal diary you know. Just a place where I write, and let others come and read what I have written. Got it?
Mil: Got it.
Mil: But why would a person have so many diaries? Isn’t one enough?
That’s when it struck me that an analogy from her familiar world could help.
Me: Forget what I told you about a diary.
Mil: Oh! So it’s not a diary after all?
Me: Uff! Forget it for the time being…am trying a different analogy.
Me: Forget analogy…I am just giving you a different example. OK?
Me: It’s like buying houses.
Me: Just like a person can have houses, land, property in the real world…a person can have blogs in the virtual world…I mean, the world of web…I mean the world of computers (knowing that she would understand ‘computers’…but not ‘virtual’ and ‘web’ etc)
Mil: Oh! So they must be expensive? How much money did you waste on yours?
Me: Mine was free. There are some that are charged.
Mil: Why was yours free? Is it in a slum in the world of computers?
Me: No it’s not really a slum. It’s just free because mine is owned by Google. And Google makes money in other ways…and not by actually charging for the blog.
Me: From advertising revenue. Companies place their ads on the Google search engine, and Google takes money from these companies for their ads.
Me: And just like houses, one can make money from one’s blog too.
Me: Just like you give your house out on rent, you can give your blog out for advertising. Google and a few other companies can analyze what your page is about so they can serve ads on that topic. This increases the chances of your readers clicking the ad which increases the chances that you’ll earn something from them.
Mil: Oh! So, it’s like you have let them use your boundary wall for posters.
Me: Exactly! (relieved that she is finally getting something)
Mil: Doesn’t that destroy the beauty of your house? I mean blog?
Me: Yes, to a certain extent it does. But people don’t mind it, I guess.
Mil: So how much do you make in a month?
Me: Nothing, because I haven’t selected that option for advertising on my blog.
Mil: Said ‘no’ to potential money? God knows what you kids are up to these days! Anyway, so these people who come to your blog are like visitors to your house.
Me: Right. And they see how I have decorated it, what I have kept in it. And then they comment on it.
Mil: You mean bitch behind your back?
Me: Maybe some do. Others bitch (or sometimes praise) on my face. That’s when they leave comments on my blog.
Mil: I see. But do you really like too many people visiting your blog? Isn’t there too much cooking and dish-washing involved?
Me: In a way, yes. I need to maintain it well…and be a good host.
Mil: And do others treat you well, when you visit theirs?
Me: Oh yes! Everyone wants their blog to be the best…and most-visited. So everyone treats everyone well.
Mil: So you must be visiting those who give you the best cookies and cake?
Me: Yeah right. I have a few favorite blogs that I visit again and again.
Mil: I see.
Me: Anyway, so just like people have different houses for different purposes (beach house for weekends, a house in the city for easy commutation, an investment property to make money)….people can have different blogs for different kinds of writing (personal, political, business, hobby-based, dream-based, etc). And each has its own address, which in the computer world is called an URL.
Mil: I get it.
Me: Really? You do?
Mil: Of course. People who can’t afford houses in the real world, console themselves by having these blogs in the computer world.
Me: That’s not what it is…
Mil: Of course that’s what it is. If you two had listened to me and not gone for those expensive vacations and eaten outside every second day, you could have owned a house in the real world…and not played with these stupid blogs that have no value, and that require so much work.
Me: We can afford a house…just that…
(She is not interested any more…and I hear her telling my father-in-law)
Mil: Soon they will have a baby in the computer world too….Ah! How I hate computers!