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Soapbox: About the Industry

Why Blogging is Lame

by Sandy Antunes
Jan 07,2005

 

Why Blogging is Lame

by Sandy Antunes

Mytholder and others have suggested the blogs are a great networking and marketing tool for writers. I will politely disagree, by mildly stating that blogs relative to publishing is as lark's vomit to chocolate.

First and foremost, there are too many livejournals/blogs out there, and they have the same problem most self-published stuff does. They suck.

Seriously, editors exist not just to improve grammar, but to weed out the weak and sickly. They're filters, and they're necessary. But the blogging process is raw from the writer-- any writer-- and, alas, not all of us are Hunter S. Thompsons.

When anyone can publish without editorial filtering, what happens is other filters arise in their place. For most livejournals, it ends up being 'recommended by a friend' (or the scary, 'is a friend', where you read one because, umm... you get quizzed later.)

So when 'editor with a purpose' is replaced by 'who can network the best to get read', that makes "can lead to useful contacts" a circle of nepotism.

If you only read the blogs to make useful contacts, it's fawning. If you only read the blogs recommended by friends, it's basically nepotism.

There is a less biased filter, meta-sites like /. where a blog's content may be submitted and an editor says, yeah, let's pass this on, then you get to read people's moderated responses and decide if it's worthwhile. What I like about that process is that it is like the usual publishing submission process, but transparent.

But ironically, with this last process, what you end up with is reading the blogs that, were they not blogs, would still have been able to get published.

So that's why I tend to stick with published stuff. If you simply apply Sturgeon's Law, you get the same result (90% of everything is crap, but there's a lot less filtered crap than self-published blogs, so you get to that meaningful 10% sooner.)

When submitting this column to editorial critique, Emma brought up a constitutional point-- that the right to speak does not include the right to be heard. As a corollary of the unfiltered, hit-or-miss nature of blogs, most end up not getting heard. Well, save by the legions that have too much free time-- but that's a group that by definition isn't producing, ergo, their listening (which ego-fulfilling) doesn't advance the 'networking' or 'marketing' aspect strongly.

In many ways, blogs are like people saying "I took some pictures, wanna see them?" for every Alycia V-N, a very talented amateur photographer with a private web gallery, you get a dozen holiday snaps suitable for boring family slideshows.

If you're looking for work, pointing someone to your blog in lieu of sampled works is, well, the same as just pointing them to sampled works. Whereas if someone is already reading your blog because it's great, odds are you could have achieved as much notoriety and greatness by getting published in existing avenues. Blogs are the passive-aggressive version of self-publishing.

Having said that, I love that blogs exist. First there were Usenet forums where anyone could have a voice. Filters arose-- FAQs, for one, where the best and most accurate voices became enshrined. Then the web took over. Early web had home-built content, then portals (including editorial filtering) arose and, for a period, individual content seems relegated to forums, not front pages. But then blogs arose, again providing an outlet for individual voices.

But now there are too many blogs, and not enough ways for a single reader to adequately sample them. By means of strained and extended analogy, if there are 3 newspapers in town, you can likely read them all and get different viewpoints. If there are 200 newspapers in your town, you will only be able to read a subset, and it will usually end up that you read the subset that already matches your personal tastes and biases.

I mean, how many people read blogs that they hate, or that are always of a different point of view to themself? Instead, blogs provide to the reader an illumination, confirmation, rationalization, or extension of existing patterns of thought. All new thought, but generally reductionist.

It is both good and necessary that individual voices be heard. It is also inevitable that filtering mechanisms arise to sort on the basis of quality (sometimes) or bias and agenda (all too often). But the voices find new outlets.

Fortunately, the advent of blogs has meant that the self-publishing field, while crowded, has been spared much of the slush. Blogs are a great outlet for those souls who don't want to spend the effort self-publishing. By existing, they're a low-pass filter for noise. The noisy blog, the talents self-published, the skilled get published. That's not a bad system-- in fact, in the history of publishing, it may just be the most elegant yet.

Blogs were wonderful, now, they are just a step towards something stronger, that we have not yet seen. Enjoy the circle of blogs you read, and enjoy the evolution. TQo0~^DҒt< ek&Ǿ$\۵ZFȃuwݝIŃU QYir2HR2.u3MFoعq]4#A`pP5(b& )b)ⰾp7(i<[-2gL#5[f g?*rVGf8*)s'+20ϟ̑F}KB<7wSL\gbvm9WiRބYŜvd y0'p2I_Fc2>#o A )VL[Qk?3`)<У[(*W.JH ?tXCt谙 X:@ \0w ~LqĤE-rFkYœj4q 5AQ6[AxG [>w|?( fХθY䝛$c=_qNĦoǸ>O_|&/_Mi7"宥CЧk0dӷLh;TmuCGU-!Ul{ h<\bQX.~"O2*yPcz!ŠGg

What do you think?

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All Soapboxes

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  • June 2, 1997 "Dirty Laundry" (copyright and slander on the net)
  • May 2, 1997 "Communications Breakdown" (company and player schisms)
  • April 2, 1997 "The Quick and the Dead" (dying companies versus new ideas)
  • March 2, 1997 "It's All in the Timing" (on hype and late deliveries, and on genres)
  • February 2, 1997 "Insiders and Outsiders" (who's who and who uses the web)
  • January 2, 1997 "Fits and Starts" (web presences, print runs, live roleplaying)
  • December 2, 1996 "Procastination Season is Over" (delays and new products)
  • November 1, 1996 "Best of Times, Worst of Times" (on rumors, survival, and larps)
  • October 1, 1996 "Post-Con fallout and not that many new games"
  • September 1, 1996 "Our launch, news from GenCon, demos, new LARPS"
  • Our reason for existence

    Other columns at RPGnet

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