Monday, December 05, 2005

To Blog or Not To Blog

The Fat Guy brings up a question that confronts every blogger sooner or later.

That is, Why in the HELL am I doing this? Why do I WANT to do this? I don't HAVE to do this. Maybe I WON'T do this.

He writes:

I can’t find anything to write about that hasn’t been covered by 500,000 people already, and I’m not the least bit motivated to go look for something. Worse than that, though, is that I find the overwhelming majority of blogs that I read uninteresting. Everybody talks about the same damn dumb thing...

Bloggerville is changing. The newest wrinkle has the mainstream media fully embracing the medium. Here on The Petrochemical Coast, the Houston Chronicle regularly links to local blogs under the heading of What they're saying around town."

I made the list once last week. Today, they linked to Slampo's Place.

This is somewhat surprising, and amusing, inasmuch as Slampo and I have a history at that newspaper (sorry if you didn't want to be "outed," Slampo).

Be that as it may, there's a certain level of validation that comes with a link in the high 'n mighty Chron, whether you once worked there or you didn't.

For those who never worked in journalism, the temptation may be to think, "Golly, professional journalists really like my writing!"

And there would seem to be some truth in that.

You have to ask, though, will they link to your post if you rip 'em a good one?

The link to Slampo today, for instance, may have been included since he made a flattering allusion to one of their reporters (or was that Slampo's patented sarcasm?) Slampo at times artfully eviscerates the Chron and so far I haven't noticed any links to those posts.

By the same token, Kevin Whited and Anne Linehan at BlogHouston take a fine tooth comb to the Houston daily on a regular basis and, I may be wrong, but I haven't noticed linking to any of their more pointed pieces while throwing a link to some of their less strident posts.

So is this the local mainstream media's attempt to co-opt Bloggerville? Is there a subtle, unspoken message being sent that says, "We will deign to link to you Pajama Nazis so long as you don't criticize our product too brutally?"

I don't know the answer to that.

Personally, I wouldn't link to another blogger who said I was full of crap. It's only human nature for the Chron to follow the same rule of thumb.

For that reason, I am willing to give the newspaper the benefit of the doubt and credit Chron Tech Guru Dwight Silverman for the newspaper's linkage to local blogs.

But back to The Fat Guy's vexing problem. What to do when you can't find anything interesting, or original, to blog about?

I was thinking maybe he or me or you could every once in a while blog about what you dreamed about the previous night.

I know, I know. Hearing another person's dreams, unless you're close to that person, is about as interesting as listening to someone talk about how their Fantasy Baseball lineup is doing.

But since blogging, at least for me, is a pursuit aimed chiefly at self amusement, dream blogging might work when the well runs dry, and it could lead to some interesting comments from those who fancy themselves interpreters of dreams.

With that in mind, here are my last two most vivid dreams.

Last night, I had a dream in which a group of polar bears was gathering in a doorway of some kinda shack. But the polar bears were kind of dirty, with matted fur. And upon closer inspection, they turned out to be people dressed up like polar bears. It woke me up and I was told I was mumbling and thrashing around in my sleep.

My other dream, now about 2-3 weeks old, involved me flying. I wasn't flying outdoors, but inside these cavernous hallways and inside these large buildings, like big gymnasiums or arenas. It was thrilling, and in the dream I called up this guy I used to work with and told him, "Man, I have discovered this new sport. It's called flying. You're not gonna believe how fun it is. I can't believe nobody's ever invented it before!"

OK, analyze away. Or wait to see if the Chron links to this. Or just go about your own personal business.


Dwight Silverman said...


You can see what we're looking for linkwise at this post:

I try not to link to posts that focus on Chronicle stories not because they may or may not be critical, but because there's often an element of redundancy. A lot of bloggers link to us, quote a big chunk of our copy, then finish up with a their own thoughts. In most cases, it doesn't add much to the conversation.

In the case of Slampo's post, I felt he had some very good points to add to our original story, and it was well-written. That he has a history with the Chron, or often takes issue with what we write, is irrelevant as it related to that post. He added something of value, so I linked.

What I really love to see are posts that are completely original, don't rely so much on mainstream media, which are compelling, well-written and add to or help generate an online conversation.

I'm not trying to co-opt anyone; just trying to call attention to some of the best work being done out there, and by doing so expand our readers' exposure to the blogosphere.

Banjo Jones said...

Thanks, Dwight.
I wasn't completely serious about the co-opting thing. Maybe 10 to 15 percent serious. And trying to stir up shit. You know, like newspapers do sometimes. I think it's good what you're doing.

JD Allen said...

Okay - I now get the reference to bears in your comment. I thought for a second, just a SECOND, now, you meant to type "beers".

I'm not really going to Steamboat, either. Dammit. I'm just not going to have blog time for a few days.

Banjo Jones said...

i figured you were joshing, j.d.
move slowly away from the keyboard, make no sudden moves. now, hit the hit the Turn Off Computer button. there. one step at a time. one day at a time.

Liberty said...

What is great about being linked by the Chronicle isn't so much about getting their approval, but just knowing that they are paying some attention. Its not even that many hits. If I want hits I'll troll for some at one of the more influentual blogs.

Rorschach said...

Dwight, we've had this conversation before, but I really think it bears repeating. The format of block quote, then analysis is as old as the hills, or at least as old as the blogosphere. You have to let your audience know what you are talking about otherwise it is like listening to a stranger talking on his cell phone, you are only hearing one side of the conversation, you can't hear what the other guy is saying and it just makes no sense. Now, one sentence after a big block quote might well be redundant and not add much to the conversation, but many I've read over at bH for instance will envelop the block quote with two or three paragraphs and usually the block quotes are only of a similar length. many times they will break the block quote up and fisk it with interleaved commentary. Besides, it is not just the blog post, it is the comments that ensue that really flesh out the post. the post is usually intended to be more a conversation starter. You should consider taking a more holistic approach to this I think. I sent you a link to one I thought was pretty good by Anne over at bH the other day and got a similar response, and the fisking was at least as long as the quotes. I'd like to give you the benefit of the doubt Dwight, I really would, but actions are speaking pretty loud here....