Monday, March 26, 2007

Bringing people together

There are some great things about blogging...
  1. Anyone can do it. You literally need no money at all. While I was computer-free for a time, I went to the library and updated... All it takes is the willingness to find something to say.
  2. It rewards merit and perseverance. You may not wind up at ESPN like Simmons, or with freelance work like many others. You may not get book deals out of it like James Lileks. But people will read and respond, sometimes from the unlikeliest places.
  3. Connections. I have a small chain of friends around the country based simply on all of us reading each others' stuff. These are people I'd never have a chance to "meet" otherwise. (And there are a few I've met in person.)
  4. It polices itself. A lot of people suspect blogging because one can say anything, never use one's real name (ahem, NIGHTFLY), and never reply to anyone who objects to things one says. I respectfully submit that this is much less of a problem than some people think - primarily because most people are not idiots. They can tell pretty quickly when someone is a troll or a loser or writes nothing worth reading. Such people wind up posting in a vacuum, and the only hits on their page are spammers and their own updates.
  5. Truth in Personality. Noms de blog aside, a person's real character comes out. Often what will happen is that a person will leave behind all the everyday fakery employed in day-to-day, face-to-face interaction and be much more honest behind the keyboard. You may pass someone on the street and think one thing, and then think something entirely different when reading what and how that person posts - free of the instant assumptions one makes based on dress, gender, skin, and demeanor.
  6. Variety. There are blogs about everything. Blogs exclusively devoted to crochet, and various religions, and a particular sport, and comics blogs, and game blogs, and blogs by pro athletes who play and develop games... There and photoblogs, essay blogs, blogs about politics, blogs about hiking and biking, and even a blog about smashing bad sportswriting. Which brings me to...
  7. The quality of the opposition. Said blog about smashing bad sportswriting clued me in to this hatchet job by Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe, who has taken to moonlighting as a bad comedy writer. He must not be familiar with blogs at all if he thinks that it's all syncophant geeks who have lived in their parents' basement for 37 years. I know at least one blogger who was on his own at 17. I know parents that blog, kids that blog. Just bookmark this blog, and then click "next blog" on the sidebar and skip around for the variety. (I do want you to be able to come back easily.)

Mr. Shaughnessy, were he clever, could point out that his hatchet job was brought to light by a blog that more or less specializes in hatcheting other people's writing. I, being cleverer, will point out that his hatchet job was published in a nationally-respected sports section for millions to see, and was specifically aimed at a star pitcher in his own city who will be in the Hall of Fame after he retires. Getting mad at FJM for noticing is to be angry for them for buying and reading the column, which is presumably why it was written and published.

The clincher, though, is that so many "different" mainstream writers, such as Shaughnessy, Kathleen Parker, and even George Will have been slagging blogs... all these diverse individuals saying nearly the same thing, while the supposedly monolithic pajama-clad nerd herd have a million different topics, and no real need to be the be-all, end-all voice in any one of them.

(PS - the target of Dan "Curse of the Bambino" Shaughnessy wrote thus: "First they ignore you, then they mock you, then they fight you, then you win." As the man says, Gandhi is one guy you don't want to mess with.)

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