People end up taking risks for lots of different reasons. Some people actively chase them, like the BASE jumping lunatics who jump off buildings to see if they don't die. Others stumble upon risks accidentally, through naivete or poor judgment. Whatever the reasons are, people seem to have sort of a love-hate relationship with risk. Most people hate being in risky situations, but then, they love watching other people being in them.
Almost all TV and Movie plots revolve around some degree of risk. Wherever there's a crazed stuntman jumping off a building, or some half brained thug trying to root two chicks at once on Big Brother, there's always a much huger number of people gawking, open-mouthed, desperate for some really risky situation to eventuate. It's like the gene for taking risks is happily traveling along the digital river of our DNA with us, propagated by the brave and crazy, and whole heartedly endorsed by the rest of us wimps.
Mark Jen took a risk blogging some of Googles financial details. That risk ended up with him being one of the most high profile, low profile bloggers in the history of the blogoverse, when Google fired him as a result of his (relatively few) posts. And on some level, the risk element innate in blogging is one of the reasons people are interested. As Robert Scoble says, he risks his job every day. While I think that's probably a bit melodramatic, (I can't imagine anyone at Microsoft deciding it would be a good idea to fire Robert) there's an element of truth that rings out of that post.
Blogging can be a risky business. I know more than one person who's been cautioned by their employer about their postings, and my own posts haven't been immune from real world fallout.
But back on a voyeuristic level - It's fun to read extreme blog posts. Those guys who don't seem to give a toss about whether they get fired or not - even better if they think that nobody is reading them. The private and (presumably) honest nature of these people ranting and bitching is a a key part of the magic power that bloggers have. This is where the "conversation "comes from. Bloggers are real people. That's the power that they are supposed to have. Regular people who do dumb things and smart things and occasionally - highly entertaining risky things.
Let's face it, For every Washingtienne (A blogger who openly posted her torrid affairs with various members of the US White house staff, and got dooced for it.), there's a thousand turkeys trying to make a buck out of blogging magic. Maybe the magic of blogging will end up dwarfed by the opportunists keen to make a buck. We'll see.
Regardless, right now risk is a shady, dark, and appealing reason behind people deciding to blog. Not brave enough to speak your mind? Well, blog it, and there's a tiny chance that you'll elicit a greatly amplified version of the reaction you might otherwise have received.
Now that's life on the edge.
(This is the third in a series of posts about why people blog. The original post can be found here)