Gushing stroke piece alert

December 30, 2003

USA Today raves on the wonders of political blogs, which are, of course, transforming political journalism as we know it and heralding a new dawn of citizen democracy.

For future reference I’ll call this a Mister Jones Story, in honor of Bob Dylan’s “Ballad of a Thin Man,” which describes a reporter covering the counterculture of the 1960s, trying to describe something incomprehensible to those who do not participate. The line goes, “you know something is happening but you don’t know what it is, do you, Mister Jones?”

OK, so I have this perverse tendency — when I see a balloon, I don’t think, “”wow, check out that colorful orb bouncing on the breeze.” I think, “where did I leave my needle?” I tend to have allergic reactions to hype, even when it hypes stuff near and dear to me. So with that context in mind, I offer:

Blogging: a reality check

Or, what the hypesters never tell you.

1) Blogging is not free. It has a cost, paid out in time spent on things that don’t get done because the blogger is busy typing and linking. Every minute doing this is a minute not doing something else, whether it’s tending to their kids or devising strategies for world peace. (Yeah, I realize I’m essentially saying time spent gardening is time not spent advancing the cause of humanity … but bear with me).

2) Blogging is not easy to do well. It’s a lot like work: the rewards reflect the effort, talent and time devoted to the blog, combined with the interest in the subject matter. You need all four for a blog to get any traction.

3) Blogging is lonely. You can spend hours crafting the perfect post and get no response. Or you can spend 15 seconds linking to “what were your favorite songs this year” and get an-all day debate. There’s no telling what will catch people’s fancy, and this tends to test your sanity.

4) Blogging is an art form — with all the suffering that implies. The dedicated blogger is like the artist who cannot imagine doing anything else. Days, weeks, months and years are devoted to fretting over the tiniest details, and there’s a fair chance that one’s greatest achievements will be misunderstood or ignored.

Well, that’s a good start. I’m all for everybody starting blogs and devoting their lives to them, but they have to know blogging is not all sweetness and glory. It’s isolation, frustration, aggravation — and a dozen other annoyances that cause people to abandon their blogs after the glow wears off.

Hype and anti-hype aside, blogging is worth doing well, it’s just not especially easy to do well.

5 Responses to Gushing stroke piece alert

  1. Myria on December 30, 2003 at 2:48 pm


  2. Marcel Perez on December 31, 2003 at 1:09 am

    Despite the best intentions and hard and conscientious work of a blog sponsor, the rewards must come few and far between.
    I have participated on many sites and can understand the unpredictability of the quantity or quality of response to what the blogger thinks is of value at the moment.
    Too often, as you point out, the largest response is accorded to the most benign subject matter that is usually thrown in to get a little reaction from what has become a quiet crowd, or some innocuous subject that is guaranteed to bring the folks back; such as one that got 51 responses on one site..”What is the most dangerous thing you have ever done?”
    Once in a while for some, always for others, there is a need to participate in some theme that requires no preparation and little brain power; as I am doing here.
    There are always enough interesting or testy threads to please most every visitor on the site of a conscientious and skilled blogger.
    So, I extend my appreciation to the many men and women who spend long hours presenting us visitors the opportunity to vent, share information and knowledge, and just be entertained.
    I hope you all find your work respected, appreciated and self-fulfilling.

  3. Marie on December 31, 2003 at 6:27 am

    Blogging is a craft and as with any craft, it is an extension of one’s personality. I have certainly viewed many ‘pedestrian-styled’ sites that seem to garner an extraordinary amount of attention with simple- minded musings. But when I am fortunate enough to trip across a masterful blog, one that offers me something intangibly different from anything else in the blogoshere, I revisit that blog. Blogging for some is work as it is filled with the angst of producing something worthy. However for others, it is more seen as a joyful ability to show the world their inner being–warts and all. Whether or not a blog is well done is highly subjective. I will continue to blog for as long as I enjoy it. Happy New Year.

  4. jozef on January 8, 2004 at 7:18 am

    Food for thought, indeed.
    True Blogging is above all about giving…
    Motherhood, fatherhood, brotherhood type of giving…This scares weak politicians as people need less and less Big Brothers and more and more caring brothers.
    Stirling Newberry had Emerson’s next line by heart, it turned out: St. Augustine described the nature of God as a circle whose centre was everywhere and its circumference nowhere:
    That’s the image you should have of what’s happening on the Internet. Anyone on any given day can be the center if he has the best observation that resonates. There is no boundary of the circle… You get to sing a song and listen to the echo. You get to hear… how other people have taken what you’ve done and turned it into their center.
    · Pyramid and Sphere
    JAMES M. CAPOZZOLA Of Rittenhouse Review Fame warned in October 2003 that blogging was not for everyone. You either get it or you don?t. Or, rather, it either gets you or it doesn?t…

  5. Jozef on January 8, 2004 at 1:25 pm

    …A friend from the Czechoslovak days when communism ruled sees some blog publishing as a kind of Virtual Underground as opposed to Velvet Underground (Samizdat type publishing)
    Some people indeed have lost positions for blogging and others are writing under pseudonyms.
    Indeed, some blogs even have the honour of being monitored by secret service and Media Units set up by corrupt state governments in Australia know that blogs are more dangerous than swords. (Time will show…)