When is a first strike not a first strike?
When it's Anticipatory Retaliation.

July 19, 2004

Blog Days of Summer

Bravo Romeo Delta

Well, in addition to being about the drought of recent posts and longer absence of actual thought, I submit that blogging is a seasonal enterprise.

Granted, I'm just beat to death with work, and whatnot, but in mooking around I've noticed a couple interesting things (purely anecdotal observations to be sure). The main among them, is that summer just isn't prime blogging time.

Now granted, since much of the blogging community is relatively young, it is easy to look back to summers previous, but in so doing, one will note that last summer we were dealing with the recent Fall of Baghdad and the summer prior, the lead up to war. While we do have the election this time around, I imagine (at least based on my own feelings) that election saturation is beginning to set in.

In looking around at blogs, I've noticed summer is a time when many bloggers go into hibernation, or just plain old quit with their screeds.

One blogger of particular interest on this front is Roger Simon. For those of you who have not read his stuff, I would highly recommend it, as he is a crisp writer, with a matching mind and his very own original thinking. Much like others in that niche of the pantheon, agree or disagree, between the posts and the comments, there aren't a whole lot of wasted trips over that direction.

The reason his blog caught my eye in the context of this post, is that he recently tried to give the blogosphere a gentle nudge to remind them that toil without compensation is prone to lead to a fickle font of wisdom indeed. More accurately, he shook the tip jar. In Roger's case, it is interesting, as he originally didn't even have a tip jar, but encouraged visitors to buy his books. Over time, his halo did slip ("My halo just slipped. This blog now has a Tip Jar. "), and he joined the dark side inhabited by zillions of bloggers elsewhere.

Why, you may ask, does this have anything to do with the fact that I'm not writing a whole bunch. Well, I got to thinking about this proposition. What if you, a happy little blogger, had to write. I mean seriously, doesn't matter if you give a rat's patootie, or not. Boring subject matter? Doesn't matter.

Well, what I think you'd end up with is the kind of low-grade shoddy reporting that we see in much of the dead tree media. Granted, for most bloggers it never gets that bad, because we do have all the editorial freedom we desire. But still, I could imagine, during these blog days of summer when attention drifts to cute little things in sundresses, I could imagine that being chained to a word processor in a largely indifferent world could grate on your nerves.

Which brings us to the whole notion of turning blogging into a paying enterprise. Clearly, blogs would run the risk of churning out nightmares like the one above - listless writing, uninspired vapidity, and other dead-blank stares at the screen.

The best analogy I can think of is what happened to Rock & Roll with the advent of Album Oriented Rock. Prior to this (and to a lesser extent with the rise of independent record labels) people wrote and performed rock music because they liked it. They could live with paltry incomes and endless hours on the road because they were having fun. With the advent of this format, the raison d' etre of having a band was to get signed. Once signed, big record labels would push the albums onto FM radio stations, who would then beat one or two songs into pureed horse meat, thereby generating sales, which would then result in great big tours by the bands, and so on. The fun left the music. It became about contract fulfillment, market share, product positioning. Much less about lost love, shattered dreams, drunken stupors or any one of a number of things that fuel the muse. In other words, having a band quit being about music.

It remained in this state, until the early nineties release of Nirvana's Nevermind album. Up until this point, a host of small, independent record labels put out small bands and supported a subculture, descended in large part from the punk rock of the late seventies and early eighties, of bands that would never make a million bucks, but would at least be fun. Or whatever.

Around 1990 or so, some clever record industry guys decided to rank the Top 40 albums based on record sales nationwide, rather than what was getting the most airtime. And they discovered this grunge band from Seattle, Nirvana. The album was selling like hotcakes, despite its lack of airplay. So big companies moved in and commercialized the whole shebang. So even the unpopular niche folks got over exposed by the bright klieg lights of income and market-driven demand. As a result, that entire sub-genre got burnt out and quit producing its best and most intriguing music in short order. Since then, big record labels have been looking for the next "unknown" thing, and they keep finding, overexposing it, flooding the market with it, and sucking it dry.

Which brings us back to our original point. When bloggers write for links, they know in their heart of hearts that that metric of popularity doesn't mean a lot in and of itself, but lets writers know their appreciated. But when cold, hard cash starts to enter the equation, some of the joie d' vrie of it disappears.

I'm not against capitalism in the slightest, but I do have some reservations about something being done for fun and interest turning into a job. Just like having Christmas everyday, it might not be all itís cracked up to be.

So do you want to be good? Or do you want to be popular?

You can be good and popular, but when money starts becoming the metric, then you end up with a premium being placed on popularity (because that's where the money is).

Far as I'm concerned, I think blogs are very good at being good. And when blogs become better at being popular than good, then I won't feel so bad when I don't give the carcass another whack.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at July 19, 2004 10:22 PM

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