Monday, 28 January 2008

Blog, Blog, Bloggocks.

It’s pimped now, to the max.

I took my old Dell P.C to the Doctor last Friday and they told me it needed serious surgery to get it zipping along. Which it now is, after three days down the mountain in the valley below.

The enforced lay-off from the computer was revelatory.

Freed from the obligations of writing (I am a keyboard author); of checking email; of scouring the web to remain ‘in touch’; and not least of all, of running a blog I only started last December, I became a man who now understands the world.

Email is a scourge (and I don’t even have a spam problem), it’s a daily intrusion into my writing day. I am shortly to let all my correspondents know (save one or two rare exceptions whom I need to communicate with over long distances and more than once a week) that if they want to contact me they should either send me a letter (delivered very reliably by Gilles the Facteur at exactly 1.00pm) or call me.

As for the Internet, SO important it gets its own capital letter, I remembered that my daily print edition of the International Herald Tribune, plus the occasional purchase of our local newspaper and the books that I read are enough to live as the reasonably well-informed hill-billy I aspire to be.

The Need to be ‘ON-line’ is a myth. There is no need. Every minute spent in front of the Internet I could be Outside, Walking, or Playing with my Children.

But it’s the blog I missed least of all.

The reasons are many.

Working with the medium, bloggers are increasingly expected to be competent journalists. Why, I have absolutely no idea but probably for the same sorts of reasons that book publicists expect all their authors to be able to knock out 800 well-edited words to deadline; why so many of the books I read by journalists aren’t very good because so many good journalists are presumed to be competent authors.

Bloggers are caught between pillar and posting: they are meant to have the literary talents of authors and the journalistic standards of the New York Times’ finest. It’s too much!

Readers’ quality expectations are excessively high for an activity that is done at immense speed in precious moments of rare spare time, for no remuneration. They want the word ‘occasional’ in a poll on my blog to be spelt with one ‘s’; then they want me to work out how to fix that problem when my blog platform tells me I can’t edit the word ‘occasional’ ‘because people have already voted on the poll’.

Blogging was meant to be fun and fast. And it seems it can’t be. It has to be ‘well-written’ and ‘accurate’. I can’t do that with the time I have available!

Time is of course the second problem. I want to be Outside not Inside with my Bloody Blog.

If I am going to be Inside in front of my computer I would prefer to be writing a good book, or being paid for something. I’m not being paid, and I haven't the time to work out ‘how to monetize my blog’.

I think the relationship between writers and readers should be clear. I write, you read; someone, and it doesn’t have to be you, pays me. Simple.

But my biggest problem with my blog, and I have to admit it, is that it’s like ‘work’ used to be for me. It’s addictive.

I started a blog on a subject that I was interested in (at some level at least), so the time I invested in finding out more was not entirely unrewarding; I even built a small but modest readership. I had feedback!

But I am evidently an obsessive-compulsive, who at some very weird level I don’t want to dwell on, thinks the world will end if I haven’t posted before breakfast.

I’ve just given up smoking. I don’t need blogging.

Besides, given the time it is taking me and the money I am not earning, and the world I am not saving, how interested am in my blog topic? Really?

Not that much.

Then there’s the second of my of my personal, unpleasant admissions when writing about blogging.

If I am writing about a corporation, even when in this case I LOVE their product, I end up – as someone cynical about the motivations of all corporations, even if their declared purpose is to save the world through knowledge – being bitchy and bitter because corporations fire people, make them work unpleasantly long hours and generally have a tendency to diminish people’s private sphere and mess-up their family lives.

I’m not bitchy and bitter. But that’s how my blog reads to me, not helped by the ultimate, serious Blogger 2.0 sin: Not being serious enough and using – not allowed – irony.

So here’s the thing.

This is the last post I make on my blog for readers of the International Herald Tribune, www.ihtreaders.blogspot.com.

‘So what,’ I hear you ask?

Well, exactly BUT you are reading this so it must be of some interest to you.

Is their some value to having a place where the dispersed global audience of the International Herald Tribune could build an on-line community and converse? Undoubtedly.

Does it save IHT employees time and trouble to have someone else research daily and then blog about their company, its brand perception and the activities of their competitors? For sure.

Who objects to the odd pearl of strategic wisdom thrown in for free? No one.

But it ain’t me babe who’s going to do it, not that anyone asked me in the first place.

If someone would like me to continue the blog on some other platform for the benefit of the IHT or its readers, perhaps even with restricted access, call me. (You can even set the editorial parameters of the blog – it will after all be you who will be paying me to do it, so that only seem fair and reasonable.)

If someone wants to take the blog on, on their own time and money, I will happily give them the keys to the house. Just email me.

But take my advice.

Blogging 1.0, or 2.0, or wherever we are supposed to be in the ‘information revolution curve’ is a load of old bloggocks.

3 comments:

Michael said...

I only discovered this blog yesterday, and have read it all over the past 24 hours.
I'm not sure if I've ever happened across a more prolific blog!
I've enjoyed browsing it immensely, so imagine my shock at reaching the most recent post only to find that you intend to cease publication.
I am in shock!
There is a real need for content like this, and you should try to keep it going, even if you can only manage to post a few times a month.
It would be a treamendous idea for the IHT top brass to pick this up and offer you some sort of "2.0" ombudsman position, but I can't see it happening.
After all, the history of the IHT is nothing if not a catalogue of missed opportunities.

Michael said...

I only discovered this blog yesterday, and have read it all over the past 24 hours.
I'm not sure if I've ever happened across a more prolific blog!
I've enjoyed browsing it immensely, so imagine my shock at reaching the most recent post only to find that you intend to cease publication.
I am in shock!
There is a real need for content like this, and you should try to keep it going, even if you can only manage to post a few times a month.
It would be a treamendous idea for the IHT top brass to pick this up and offer you some sort of "2.0" ombudsman position, but I can't see it happening.
After all, the history of the IHT is nothing if not a catalogue of missed opportunities.

OPL said...

A couple of comments I'd like to make after reading this blog.

First of all thank you. The IHT deserved an independent blog and thanks to its ex-insider-publisher it-at least for a while-had one. It offered some insight into an uncategorizable and supranational newspaper that is all too rarely analyzed. To keep our beloved IHT on its toes and to help guarantee a bright future to a paper that has already had such an extraordinary past, critical analysis is essential.

My second point is a topic that came up a few times in your posts. Like many other readers, I do not consider myself part of the class of people the IHT has tried to market itself to lately. I understand that business readers are advertisers' target audience, but denying the existence of a core readership of non-CEO workers, diplomats, journalists, teachers, students, humanitarian workers, etc is wrong. Most of the people I know who read the IHT do so because it is the only socially-conscious globally-available international daily, however they dont make enough money to buy the kind of products advertised in its pages. I know I cant really afford the paper either but subscribe nevertheless because I too believe in the values you have described. I believe in paying for quality journalism, a centerpiece of democracy.