Saturday, September 30, 2006

San Juan Channel from Cattle Point, San Juan Island, WA; photo by Robin Atkins, bead artist
Comments Off...

Listening to Saturday Night Blues on my favorite radio station, KPLU, I’ve just been catching up on a few special blogs. One of them is Layers of Meaning. The author, Serena, has disabled comments on her blog.

Can’t help thinking about that… What would it be like to blog with “comments off” and “counters off?” Wouldn’t there be a sense of freedom?

Years ago, I took a “process painting” class where the underlying assumption was that we would NEVER show our work to anyone. The idea was to work on a large canvas, painting up close and personal, never stepping back to judge or evaluate our work, and never looking at the paintings of others in the class. My paintings were different than anything I’d ever done or have ever done since, and it was an amazingly liberating experience. Yes, I do have them still. I only showed them to one person, and that was someone I trust with my darkest secrets.

Turning off comments and counters is different from that painting class, because I know people might still find and read my blog. Yet, similar to the process painting, there would be less of a sense of responsibility to meet the needs of known viewers, and less of a desire to please them, rather than myself. For example, right now, I’m feeling pressure to find an image or two, suitable for this post. (Maybe you’re thinking, “She COULD show us her paintings!” Me too, but I’d have to find them and photograph them, and their associated memory of freedom might then slip away… so instead you get a photo I took from the tip of San Juan Island during a storm last winter.)

Surely turning off comments and counters would make blogging more of a diary writing experience. The sense of community (that is boosted with every one of your comments and every time I see another country’s flag on my counter) would be lost. I adore being part of this community in all of its struggles and victories with the process of art. Without that, I’m not sure I would blog. But Serena does… and she does it well… and for a long time, starting in October 2003. I wish I could tell her how much I enjoy her writing and images.

Another blogger I greatly admire is artist, John Stewart, who does A Drawing A Day. While comments on his blog seem to be enabled, I’ve never seen one posted. To that end, I posted one today. Maybe he gets a ton of them, but doesn’t approve them to be posted, which would make it look like he doesn’t get any.

Writing and answering comments does take time. Yup, sometimes a lot of time (especially when you have to retype the code over and over again). So I guess more time for art would be another small advantage of “no comments.”

For now, I’m keeping both comments and counter enabled, because I love the dialog, the feedback and the support. It’s great to feel connected to people in Canada, Australia, UK, Columbia (most recently)… as well as closer to home. Maybe our blogging and through it our sense international connection contributes to world peace in some small way.

“If we have no peace,
it’s because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”


  1. I'm glad you have the comments turned on, because you write things that sometimes I just NEED to respond to! and for my own blog where I haven't gotten into the groove of posting much yet, I love hearing from someone I've never met that they love or relate to something I've made. I just like that sense of connecting with the larger world... I guess that's the same thing you said! :)

  2. Anonymous8:19 AM

    Without the comments and the interaction of friends on my blog, I don't think I would care to blog anymore. If all a person wanted to do was journal, she could do that in her word processing program. I think the nature of blogging is to share ideas. Without comments it would feel like a teacher who asked a question and then never let her students raise their hands.

    Besides, sharing in the blogging world is fun and a girl can't have enough fun!

  3. I'm happy to get comments and to know that somehow something I've said has promted that person to take the time to leave a comment. I guess it's a bit of a boost to me when I see visitors from all over the world. And I like to think that if we can just get connected to one another we can learn to accept each other and all our differences because in that, we are all alike.

  4. Anonymous12:12 PM

    As with the others, I like the comments. Also, I guess it was Oprah who said: "always believe what a person tells you about themselves." I think she meant it in the sense of: If someone says, 'I can never forgive a person who...' that you need to pay attention, because the sayer has just drawn a line in the sand she won't allow anyone to step over. And in a sense, I think we do some of the same in Blogging with our comments. We allow someone else (if I add an 's' does that make it plural?) rules or lines in the sand braodcast to us know where they are comfortable with someone stepping and where they aren't. I'm not sure I'd want to see a blog without comments particularly if I couldn't tell you, Robin, what a deeply wonderful and moving photo of the San Juan's that is on the heading of your blog. That is, for me, very lush, stirring and thought provoking; perhaps because I love nature, with the mountains first--hey, I live in Colorado!--and the sea second of things that move me on a primal level. Wildlife falls somewhere in between 1 & 2 so I also love that. But it is really a wonderful picture. Oh, and fabric singing (referring to the last entry I'd made) is because I've recently begun to discover how evenly my senses are attuned between sight and audio. The audio part of me has been downtrodden for years without me realizing it. Almost every object, I've discovered, sings to me in my mind. Now, How did I miss that for lo these many years! See what we learn from blogging and comments! Teach me and they will come.

    To Beaden Granny I would say I know some of your struggles. It is so wonderful that you are there with your pet. So, many people would say oh, its just a dog or just a cat! As if...

  5. Anonymous2:29 PM

    I love leaving comments. And, I also love recieveing them because I love the feedback. It also gives me motivation to finish my work:)

    At first, I was afraid of showing others my works-in-progress. Sometimes, I still am a little afraid, but I suppose that's also the exciting part about it.

  6. I started my blog as just a works-in-progress record for me of what I've actually been doing. Sometimes it seems that I do so little in beadwork compared to almost any other medium, and yet, I knew that in a years time, I do get quite a lot done.
    Then I read another beader's blog and liked what she had done, so I left a comment and sent her my blog address...she liked my work and mentioned it on her blog and suddenly I was getting comments from folks I didn't know on my blog...and it was fun!
    So I really appreciate the comments (both giving and receiving) secion of blogs and it does make me feel like I'm part of a larger community of artists who work in the same medium I do.
    Plus, I love the interactive nature of your blog, robin...and it's led me to some realizations about my work that I might not have come to without your input...
    I get the freedom thing, but for me the advantages of the comments on my blog far outweigh any disadvantages, at least for now.

  7. Blogging IS about communication, and that generally implies a two-way, listen and speak, look and show exchange. could turn off your counter. I don't have one and only a few times a year do I check with my webguy to give me a report. I am more comfortable that way, for sure.

    And yes, yes, yes, blogging is a force for world peace!!

  8. I have comments on because I want to get feedback, bad or good, on what I've put out there. Whether it be about my day, about my work, whatever; I'm putting it out for public consumption. If I didn't want to hear anyone's thoughts I just wouldn't post it, not even with comments turned off. Those mind dumps go into a private journal for me to look at, rationalize, or get out of my system as the case may be.

    By commenting on other people's blogs, I hope I'm offering thoughts that will be of some use to the person reading it. To make them smile, think, laugh, feel... something.

  9. Your blog is such an incredible treat because you respond to the comments! I know it takes a lot of time and someday you may decide to take another road, but it's such a wonderfully affirming gift you offer us, to take us seriously. And I love the little community that is developing here as I look each time to see, Did --- answer? What did s/he have to say? Thanks Robin!

  10. For me comments are very important because I see communication online as an inherently social activity
    before blogs I was on discussion lists and the like - and still am as both are wys to connect with people who share similar interests or perhaps I hould say obsessions
    I love leaving comments and recieving them

  11. To all ~ Yes, we are a like-minded bunch, aren't we! Yippeeee!

    BTW, my comment never showed up on John Stewart's blog, so possibly my guess about him not "approving" any comments for public view was correct. Strange.

    Mary ~ Thanks for the compliment on my photograph. Blush...

    Lone Beader ~ I'm soooooooo glad you worked through your fear. You in progress pictures and narrative feed so many of us.

    Vicki ~ Welcome back. I've been missing you.

    Beadbabe ~ Your story is really neat... thanks for telling it.

    Sharonb ~ "Inheretantly social activity"... I like that phrase. Thanks.

  12. Gee Robin, I just finished a Process Arts workshop. We were told not to make any comments on each others work in the class, but didn't get told we shouldn't show what we did to anyone else. There were some who I'm sure wouldn't want their work posted because it was of such a personal nature, but I hung mine out there on my blog for everyone to see. Not because I was proud of what I did, but because I was so amzed at how the workshop made me feel. I'm afraid the blog readers didn't get it though. It was a most liberating expierience.
    I wouldn't want to turn off the comments though, since it's the feedback that keeps me coming beck. I love this interaction between artists from all over the world. & I love your Mother Theresa quote!


Thanks you for joining the discussion on this post today!