Friday, September 26, 2008

[blogworn] many are taking increasing blogging breaks

Is it just me or are fellow bloggers feeling the work pinch just now? More and more blogs are closing and there is also a constant demand for quick grab posts, which pains me:

"Right now, and for the foreseeable future, the blogosphere is the friend of information but the enemy of thought." [Alan Jacobs in Books & Culture, 2006]

He goes on to speak about the sphere as a disseminator of information, which I dispute, on the whole considering that an awful lot of blogs simply comment on the news [guilty plea here as well]. Jacobs then adds:

"But as vehicles for the development of ideas they are woefully deficient and will necessarily remain so unless they develop an architecture that is less bound by the demands of urgency—or unless more smart people refuse the dominant architecture."

Have to agree. There needs to be some sort of mechanism which raises the quality of the information at least to published book level [a topic in itself] and yet we can't afford to put up with any form of bureaucratic control or even a Voluntary Code.

Many will argue that the rant is the defining characteristic of the good blog, providing it is backed by research and this does distinguish the blog from the MSM, which has gone over to so-called "blogs" which might charitably, in the main, be called banal.

Total Politics and the like are trying to elevate the status of the blog within the narrow sphere of politics but what of the cooking or pretty-landscape photo blogs? Where do they fit in? They are certainly popular but what s their future? Possibly they'll outlast the text blog.

There is certainly the question of the friendly nature of blogs, a culture in existence where many of us now prefer a list of trusted bloggers to be our first source and initiators of ideas, before going off to Wiki or even to a book, to expand our horizons on that topic.

The local library has been partly replaced by the blogosphere, for how long?

Security expert and tech curmudgeon Bruce Sterling famously quipped at this year’s South-by-Southwest conference that “I don’t think there will be that many [blogs] around in 10 years.

On the question of 'short grab one-liners', concerning what you had for breakfast or where you'll be at 6 p.m. this evening, do you want a steady diet of: "I'll be home at 6 p.m. dear, just as I always am"? In an article, Twitter will die and I'll tell you why, Marios Alexandrou says:

Much of what gets posted to Twitter is not valuable to the community. I'm not saying that there has to be a money-making idea in ever message, but a message to your network should at least be of value/interest to more than one person. I don't need to know that you'll be calling so and so at 9:00pm tonight.

Send an instant message instead or use the direct message feature.
Twitter is like TV. You can park yourself in front of it, become really engaged, and hours later wonder what you did during all that time. I had a one week period where all I did was check Twitter instead of checking my RSS feeds.

And what of the blogs which branch out and include a team? Jay Garmon says:

Nearly all great innovation comes from a singular vision pursued doggedly until it achieves success ... Opening your project up to an unreliable parade of volunteer contributors allows for a great, lowest-common-denominator consensus product.

I can't agree in terms of this blog here. Whilst I have a style some might like/some might vote against with their click-out finger, the introduction of divergence through guest posters has certainly upped the intellectual status of the blog, not to mention the contributions from Anon in comments.

Do we go the way of Samizdata, where a central figure controls a group of under-bloggers who are expected to post with a certain stance on things? I particularly like Johnathan Pierce there but he only pops up now and again. There's something a little 1984 about that blog organization.

There's a negative reaction to guest posters in many cases. I won't name two of my favourite blogs but both gentlemen have other regular contributors and I tend to ignore these latter posts and go for the originator's. It's clear why the owners do it - to keep the thing going and to allow someone else the luxury of posting without having to maintain a blog him/herself.

Now one or two of these 'guest posters' are damned good in their own right and I really like their stuff but there is something ... something ... well, I don't know how to put it, really.

What of the corporate blog, very popular some time back? In a comment on these, which could equally apply to blogs in general, the Boston Business Journal says:

"I try to do it consistently but oftentimes I can't do it," conceded Waltham-based Black Duck Software Inc. CEO Doug Levin. "I don't blog for blogging's sake. I blog when I have something to say." Levin, a self-proclaimed blogophile, said he simply doesn't have the time to blog daily. "I used to do it every Wednesday, but then I began travelling on Wednesday."

Does a firm run a one-product, mini-niche site [or a series of them] or is the future the one-stop mega-site? Quadszilla says, on the trend to black holes:

If you’re doing SEO and have an extremely trusted site as a client, it certainly makes sense in the current Google environment to recommend an “Everything for everyone” strategy ... It would take some cash, but buying and transforming highly trusted sites into everything for everyone sites looks to be a very profitable business strategy.

Are we going to see megasites in the future or will the one-person-blog survive and even flourish?


Anonymous said...

I go to blogs for quality of information, in the spheres of my interest.
The spheres of my interest?
Well they are pretty wide, and I guess you have a handle on them, anyway. (But you may be surprised <;-) )

Many British blogs, a great many, I find banal, low level, ill expressed, lacking logic, even in my preferred subjects, and the comments tend to be one-liners, very little discussion.

I don't necessarily need discussion, but it can add tremendously.

One of the best blogs, both for content and discussion, is
Here, and because this is a fast changing subject, the volume is enormous.

Staying on the same general subject, This blog is infrequent, but the content and analysis is superb.

For a slightly "meta-physical", or should I say spiritual?, treatment of the same subject, but with excellent analysis, I like
This blog, and for good technical analysis,
This blog is interesting.

All the above have a common feature, other than the subject matter.
That is, they take facts, either headlines, or statistics, or whatever, and relate them to a subject, a world view, that I find to be one of my interests. In that relating, they point out other related facts, positions, happenings, that in the near future, will impinge, intrude, or affect my life.
For instance, in the last few days there have been numerous articles, bloomberg and others, relating comments by both Chinese and Russian financial/economic authorities relating to the financial happenings in the US currently, comments on the doubtful future of the $ as the worlds currency, - from Russia a statement concerning a "Gold-Backed- Rouble" (and I know they are mining it for their reserves), and from the Chinese on the same theme, (and I know they are mining it rapidly for internal use too).
From Russia also, statements that Putin is considering selling hydrocarbons into Europe, denominated in Euros, rather than $s, which does make economic sense, particularly for the Europeans, but will spell catastrophe for the US global hegemony.

By taking this view of the world, I find a financial, "hard-assed" view which is more accurate, and only slightly tinged by the world of smoke and mirrors politics.

And this is why I have such a disdain for politics, I mean, these people are basically dishonest conmen, liars, and self serving rip-off artists, who always hide their motivations.

Don't get me wrong, the financial world can be the same, EXCEPT, their motivation is always known, so you can, most times, figure out the game, most times.

If you look in detail at the link to US Housing bail-out legislation, you'll understand what I mean.

Anyway, this is getting overly long.

Quality of content
Quality of analysis.
All built into a theme.
All supported by relevant links.

And what is most important to me, - - - The summation of the above, portrays to me, an overview of the world around me, how it will impact me in the future, and allow the formulation in the medium term, of a response, if one is needed.

Having this world view, I find I am able to look at other peripheral subjects, and place them in a more accurate perspective.

Hope that helps.

Anonymous said...

Take a wander around
This site, to see what I mean.

Gracchi said...

I disagree with anonymous in that I'm not sure that there is one type of blog that attracts me. I'd suggest in a way that we all write the kind of blogs we would like to read. My favourite blogs are probably Stumbling and Mumbling and Rethink (an American neo-conservative, philosophic blog): the point about both of those is that they are reflective and thoughtful. Blogs for me lose something when they just become filled with spittle- I disagree about the rant being a good post in my view it just reveals the lack of intelligence of the ranter. The thing Im disappointed by in the UK blogosphere is the way that you either have a political blog (which generally is bigotry distilled in bile) or you have a personal blog but we don't have as many blogs on science or art or music or films. That's what I'd like more of- more Catholicity and more intelligence.


Why do all blogs seem to be expected to meet an informative, intellectual , serious expectation?
I think one of the harder to write , and least respected blog genres,is the comedy blog.

Anonymous said...

Read the text on this carefully, especially the final paragraph

Gracchi said...

Ubermouth I agree with you! To be honest I think blogs should be whatever writers and readers want them to be. For me that means interesting, intelligent and yeah amusing comes into that.

CalumCarr said...

Blogs and the blogosphere will evolve. Those who want blogs with high quality information, eg, can write them and search them out. Those who want, what some might consider to be, pap can write pap and search for pap.

I detect a hint of intellectual elitism in the post and some of the comments.

There is room for all types. All have a place. Each blog is as valid as the next regardless of content or "quality"

Nunyaa said...

Have to agree with you Calum, if those who want political and so called intellectual blogs to read, by all means seek them out and those who prefer a mixture, like it matters. Just like television, if there is a program you don't like, you switch off and do not watch it, not all of us try to act like we are full of smarts by using big words and boring posts to be up there with the Joneses. Each to their own.


Ty Gracchi.
Whilst I enjoy the intellectual blog, and James is by far my favourite, I also think that comedy writing can be very sassy and clever.
I rarely watch tv and actually rely on blogs such as James for all the who, what, where and why of it all.


I do think,however, that James should 'get with it' and hand out commenter appreciation prizes to his most loyal readers[such as me, who will have a.....)

James Higham said...

This was great and thanks - I get more form your comments, I think, than you do from my posts.

Chuckled at the intellectual elitism comment. Oh dear.

Comment appreciation awards? Now there's an idea.

Comedy - yes, very hard to maintain.

Catholicity - yes.

James Higham said...

Anon, thanks too and I'm visiting those now.

jmb said...

Well there are good blogs and there are ordinary blogs and I suppose plenty of bad ones too out there. Just like books except you don't need a publisher to at least filter out the very bad ones.

There is a place for a good summary style blog in some areas, one you can read daily and follow the links. Like Kevin, MD in the medical field who distills news from the medblogs.

As for trusting information you read on blogs, of course you should always check other sources which you find yourself since the links are often to sources who have the same point of view.

Blogworn, that's a good expression. It seems many are finding it difficult to get back into the swing of it after summer. Too busy or just frankly losing interest? Time will tell.

I would not say the local library has been replaced by the blogosphere but it has been replaced in many ways by the internet. And a good thing too, a book maybe out on loan or not up to date but the internet is always open and there are many different and sources of information there. Just don't trust everything you read there as the truth. Unfortunately sometimes it takes a lot of work to track down reliable information but I think the internet with all its various sides, one of which is blogging is brilliant and I don't want to go back.

Oh and just because it's in a book or a newspaper or any print medium does not make it the "truth" either.

Yesterday I was having a conversation with a friend about some matters in an estate she is dealing with as the executor. I said I don't think what you are doing in that particular issue is right (withholding his inheritance since his stepmother says he is a drug addict), you could be sued by that beneficiary. She said my lawyer advised me to do it. Well that's his opinion and I told her to remember that every court case has a lawyer on each opposing side who believe they are right according to the law so I advised her to get a second opinion who may agree with the first but at least she will be better informed.

James Higham said...

JMB - yes, that's very true.