Sunday, March 04, 2007


Went up to NYC yesterday to see Amanda and the gang at the Tank for a discussion of blogging (what else?). Was quite a nice conversation with both the panelists and the audience for the most part. Anyway, one constant refrain is that somehow bloggers should be doing something different. It's a weird one, really, and one I have problems responding to. It's not that I mind suggestions or specific criticisms of what I'm doing, but there is no "bloggers" - there's a bunch of people posting away on the internets. Some manage to get a large regular audience, some don't. Sure there are ways people try to communicate and support various collective things at times, but ultimately we're just people writing about or drawing attention to things which interest us. This blog hasn't changed all that much since it started, aside from my various writing tics evolving and changing. I've always basically written about politics-as-covered-by-the-media primarily, with a secondary focus on how the Bush administration sucks and the media too often fails to notice (with special emphasis on Our Excellent Adventure in Iraq), and then occasionally dipping into coverage of specific policy/legislation and strategic advice for Democrats. And the occasional blogfight when I get bored. That's what I do. That's what people come here to read. I'm not sure how I could change that.

But there is certainly plenty of space for people to do other things. To establish new directions for commentary or activism or whatever. I know lots of people think that established bloggers have some sort of lock on the traffic and there's no room for new entrants. I don't deny that there is a degree of habitual readership, and that someone who started writing a blog identical to and as awesome (or sucky) as this one wouldn't have an audience overnight, but neither did I.

And you don't even have to start your own goddamn blog and slowly build an audience. You can go to the Great Orange Satan's place and post a diary, potentially having tens of thousands of readers right away, or try at any of the "smaller" community bogs. I'm not claiming that there's some perfect meritocracy in blogworld, but if you can make a compelling case for whatever you feel the need to make a compelling case for, people will respond.

But leading requires leadership skills. Yelling at people for not doing what you think they should be doing isn't leadership, it's a tantrum. Persuade, don't hector. Inspire, don't try to tear everyone else down. And if people aren't responding the way you think they should, maybe you should rethink your approach.

There are missing pieces in the blogosphere, places for people to stake out a territory. Blogging is harder than most people think, however, and if you think you want a large audience then you might consider being careful what you wish for. Most of all, building an audience requires regular and consistent posting. It's very time -consuming. "I'm smart and I have things to say that people should hear" isn't enough.