Saturday, June 6, 2009

Ghost Blogs and a Lack of Common Sense

Speaking of ghosts, I'm not dead. Still here. Yup. Miss me? Didn't think so.

Have you ever started a blog only to abandon it within a few months? Of course you have. But why? Either you got bored, got busy, or your (ex) BFF misinterpreted one particular post? In order to solve this grand mystery, the folks over at the NY Times (discovered here) have asked a few people to reveal why they've left all of these blogs to waste away on the internets.

The reasons for neglect boil down to:

1) Procrastination and, you know, life
2) Attempts at fame, money, and an established audience have failed
3) Distractions and new forms of expressing one's ideas such as Twitter and Facebook (What do you mean distractions? I always pay atten...what's that?)

My problem with the piece is that Douglas Quenqua, the article's author, as well as the bloggers he interviewed, all seem to overestimate the power of blogs. The last few years have made us question the value of print media and forced us to reassess whether we still need to print and bind books or whether we should digitize anything and everything. It's the new way andeveryone wants in.

Quenqua writes, "Getting started is easy, since all it takes to maintain a blog is a little time and inspiration. So why do blogs have a higher failure rate than restaurants?" He answers his own question here. Something that takes "little time and inspiration" to "maintain" will hopefully be more readily abandoned than something which costs someone's lifeblood and savings to establish. A restaurant owner needs to find investors, staff, a chef, a location, and must have good business sense in order to succeed. Not just anyone can set one up. However, Teeny McTweeneyson can set a blog up for free within five minutes on many different sites. Now let's say that Teeny has a blog about her cat and her crush (Hottie o'Dreamyguy) but gets frustrated after a few months because no one ever comments and it just hasn't taken off. Maybe she'll come back to it every so often to rant about her life but it's no longer that vehicle she hopes will transport her to SuccessTown.

Why on earth would something like Teeny's blog fail? Is it the fact that she can't spell? Or the fact that she uses too many !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!? Or perhaps because there are approximately 8 gazillion blogs already devoted to cats? Maybe. But there were probably about 8 gazillion minus one blogs devoted to cats before Lolcats came along. Teeny simply failed to do her research or put any creative effort into her blog. There are many Italian restaurants in the States, but that doesn't mean that new Italian restaurants will automatically fail. Americans will always love Italian food and surfers of the internet will always love reading about cats. But one day even Lolcats will bore us and we'll have to come up with a new feline sensation.

The point is, being a blogger will not lead to automatic success. In fact, the likelihood of a blog doing well is probably slimmer these days than that of a book getting published. Our thoughts are summarized in 500 words or less, we demand images and instant updates, and our hands shake when we hold a pen to paper for more than 15 minutes. The digital age, as awesome as it may be, should not signify the end of skill, talent, or perspicacity.

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