Archive for August 18th, 2006

The Thinker

Many blogs, many motivations

Where do bloggers find the time to blog?

That is what I am wondering about this evening. I like to blog. Actually, I love to blog. I could probably blog during all my waking hours. I just cannot figure out a way to do it and keep a roof over my head at the same time. So I have a full time job. In addition, I have duties as a husband and father. Moreover, there are these chores I have to do. There are groceries to buy, weeds to be pulled, cars that need to be maintained and a house that requires regular maintenance. That I can blog at all is directly attributed to the fact that my life finally has large enough pockets of free time where I can indulge this time consuming hobby.

This week, since I was on business travel, I felt grateful to be able to blog at all. To write even one entry though something had to give. I had to give up some sleep. As a result, my one on the road entry was hurried and slapped together. I was fighting sleep while putting on the final edits.

I figure most dedicated bloggers must be independently wealthy or are stealing time from their employers. Take Billmon, for example. For me, his blog is required daily reading. Yes, it is true that for months he gave his blog short shrift. Maybe he got bored with it or he was going through some personal issues. For whatever reason, he took it up again earlier this year. Particularly when political events spire out of control as they have recently, he blogs up a storm. Pages of daily sharp and insightful analysis come out of his fingers and with seemingly no effort are thrust into the blogosphere. Just one entry of his insightful and masterful essays would take me several hours to compose. Lately he has been doing several of these a day.

The lefty political blogosphere is rife with people like Billmon. To name a few, check out Informed Comment, Talking Points Memo, My Left Wing and Political Animal. It is amazing enough that these bloggers can even find the time to develop an informed opinion. It is another thing entirely to also read dozens of blogs daily, ponder contrasting points of view and then put out readable and highly articulate blog entries for public consumption. If there is any money to be made for these efforts, it is in the form of pocket change from also serving Google Adsense content or ads on your blog from the Liberal Blog Advertising Network. To my knowledge, Marcos Moulitsas (who runs Daily Kos) is the only one to earn his livelihood solely from blogging, and that is only because he runs the nation’s number one blog.

It seems everyone has a blog these days. Particularly with the emergence of social networking sites like MySpace.com, it has become easier and trendier to put your thoughts out there for the world. Call me skeptical, but I think blogging is one trend that is going to go the way of the Rubik’s cube phenomenon. Eventually most of those who are blogging (if they have not already) will simply give it up. I’ve got a lot better ways to spend my time is what they are likely to learn. Having a life is more meaningful than taking the time to record it in cyberspace.

We all want to feel that our lives matter. Blogging provides the illusion that our thoughts are being widely read. It is harder to accept the fact that just because our words are out there on the Internet does not mean that it matters. The vast majority of blog posts are noise indistinguishable from static on the radio. They mean nothing except possibly to those who take the time to put them out there.

Clearly, I may be suffering from the likely delusion that my blog matters too. What I am discovering is that it is darn tough to have a blog that strangers will choose to come back and read regularly. It is even tougher to have them recommend your blog to their friends. With so many blogs out there, and with an infinite number of blogs that are potentially available, it becomes almost virtually impossible to distinguish your blog. It appears to have already reached the point where unless you are already a blogging phenomenon, you are unlikely to ever become one.

The first arrivals in the blogosphere that stayed, cultivated and ruthlessly networked their blogs tend to have the lion’s share of the blogging market today. Unless they deliberately drive their audience away, or lose interest, they are likely to retain their prominence. The rest of us are mere table scraps. Some of those, like those early Silicon Valley pioneers, are cashing in their blogging chips. Blogging has become a means to another end, not an end in itself. Witness Wonkette (Anna Marie Cox), who has sold her blog and started writing a trashy and badly reviewed book. Wonkette is now a trademark. It is now owned by Gawker Media, and has both a paid editor and news analyst.

Wonkette may be a sign of the future for many top blogs. It is unlikely if they will be as interesting as when they represented on person’s unique viewpoints. Yet it hardly matters because they have capital of a different type: market share, eyeballs, and prominent real estate where ads can be served. The new owners will worry endlessly about market shares and balance sheets. These blogs are likely to be seen as commodities and profit centers, rather than as unique expressions of free thought.

As for the rest of us, we have to finance our blogs out of our own pockets. Our blogs, regardless of their content, are now unlikely to rise above the billions of other blogs out there. We have become part of the matrix. If it happens to us, it will be a modern Cinderella story.

While I am hoping Occam’s Razor gets lucky, I am not foolish enough to expect it. This blog may be of interest to handfuls of regular readers, but is unlikely to grow much bigger. There are too many other choices out there. I do see growth in my blog, but it is largely attributed to having more content amenable to search engines.

My blog remains an excellent way for me to amuse myself. It also allows me to work regularly at improving my writing. While I blog mostly for my own amusement, I still enjoy those occasional times when a particularly inspired blog entry has some stranger I don’t know smiling, or nodding their head in agreement, or getting an insight they might not otherwise have.

For me that is what blogging is about, and that is enough. Yet I will entertain a buyout. Gawker Media: call me and make me an offer.

 

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