Dad sent us an article about parents making blogs of their kids. So, Blog Ian is not exactly unique, but it is, of course, one of the better blogs about one of the cuter babies.
New generation of parents turns to the Web to share photos, advice
By Molly Millett
Knight Ridder Newspapers
Sept. 4, 2004 12:00 AM
When co-workers ask Alecia Davis if she has any photos of her baby son, Colum, she doesn’t pull out her wallet – instead, she sits down at the computer and logs on to her baby’s personal Web site.
“I think it’s the new baby book,” Davis says. “It’s a whole new way of communicating.”
Baby Colum’s site is actually an online diary – a Web log – kept by his dad, John Davis, a stay-at-home father who is also an English teacher. Besides photos, the site also includes regular entries about daily life, comments from readers, poems and statistics (number of teeth, height, weight, etc.). It is a grandma’s paradise.
But the funny thing is, it’s not just friends or family who log on to the site to look at 10-month-old Colum’s latest candid photo. Strangers do, too (often other parents). In fact, a whole community of parents from across the globe has gathered on the Internet to share stories and advice and musings about parenting small children. Many are doing this via Web logs – also known as baby blogs.
“I haven’t written in Olivia’s paper journal for months and months and months, but I’m on the computer all the time, checking my e-mail, making a note about our day (on her online journal), taking a break to see what that 2-year-old in New Jersey is up to,” says Julia Janousek of Minneapolis, a mom to 2-year-old Olivia and 6-week-old Xavier.
Janousek belongs to Live Journal, a Web site that helps people create and maintain online diaries. As part of that service, Janousek can link to the Web logs of “friends” she has discovered on the site – in her case, that includes parents who have children about the same age as hers.
“I started this as a way to talk to other moms,” Janousek says. “I’ll write that Olivia will only eat cereal out of my bowl, and I’ll get comments like, ‘Oh, yeah, that happens at my house, too.’ It’s almost like real-time advice.
“I keep this journal as a way to get things down on paper to remember them, but also as a way to have a community of parents, to know I’m not alone and crazy,” she says. “We read each other’s journals all the time.”
Clancy Ratliff, a student of rhetoric and feminist studies, is studying the Web logs of mothers for her doctoral dissertation at the University of Minnesota. Ratliff said she got to thinking about how Web logs that discuss the Iraq war and the upcoming U.S. presidential election – often written by men – get as many as tens of thousands hits a day, but that the Internet audience is not as wide for the women who write online about politics in a more personal, everyday-life kind of way, such as parental leave policies of corporations.
“People may think, ‘Oh, this is just someone’s blog about changing a diaper,’ but these are women who are using blogs to have a voice in the public sphere, to get their opinions out there,” Ratliff says. “It’s a pretty powerful thing for a lot of women.”
In a way, these blogs are documenting everyday history: “These people are talking about the daily work of motherhood,” Ratliff says.
Kelly Brown, a mom and a blogger, realizes the importance of parents sharing their daily life. Brown founded bloggingmommies.com in 2000, which links to about 850 Web logs of moms and yes, even some dads. They include everyone from pregnant moms to moms detailing life with a newborn to women seeking to adopt a child.
“Their sites are usually read by other moms,” Brown says. “It’s like high school, where you stick with your clique. This is the mom clique.”
Of course, dads write, too. Like Ben MacNeill, a stay-at-home dad from North Carolina who writes in humorous and touching detail about life with his 11-month-old daughter, Trixie. The site includes diaper, bottle and sleep logs and charts as well as a “Trixie Picture of the Day.” The New York Times recently mentioned the Trixie Update, which typically draws as many as 1,000 to 1,500 visitors a day, sometimes from as far away as Brazil and Japan. [JGB note: It features hilarious charts of Trixie’s sleep patterns!]
“Initially, it was mainly for my wife’s benefit, because she went back to work much earlier than we wanted, and this was a way to keep her feeling connected,” MacNeill says. “If I knew now the scope it would take on, I don’t know if I would have started the thing.” But it’s a creative outlet for me – I’m a designer and artist by trade. When I write, I try to write as if it would be interesting for me to read even if I didn’t have a child. I try to keep my eyes open to what is interesting, what is new.”