Monday, April 17, 2006

State of the Blog

So what is the state of the blog? Well, I've been meaning to write this since January, so that's a hint.

It is not that there has not been content on this site for the past few months, it is just that more stuff has been lining up behind it. Things I have meant to note, reviews I have intended to make, subjects I have intended to broach once I had things sorted out in my own mind. As a result, there are a number of outtakes, half-entries, and other musings that never make it into digital print.

And blogging, much like newspapers, is time sensitive.

Here's an example. On my "finished" pile is a copy of John Scalzi's Old Man's War, which is an good book and an excellent first novel and I wanted to tell you so. Unfortunately, the I've taken so long to tell you that it's been nominated for a Hugo this year. Ditto for the work of another author I've wanted to tell you about, Charles Stross, who is also very good and is ALSO a Hugo nominee. Both gave me a chance to get in on a loud and public fan early on, but now they've gone on an succeeded without me.

In politics, I have a similar case of Jeffrey-come-lately with Darcy Burner, the Democrat challenger for Dave Reichert's seat in the 8th district. Five months ago I got a fundraising note from her that made me smile - Reichert is one of the few members of this GOP congress who is not up to his armpits in scandal, so I thought him an easy re-election. Now there is suddenly national attention to this ground-level campaign and the elephants are deeply concerned. It turns out that Ms. Burner has put together an effective grass-roots campaign, convinced the establishment Dems to let her take her chance, and mobilized an effective team of supportness bloggers and net-root activitists. So there is another chance to get in on the ground floor and report from the trenches.

And here's the opening line of another entry, half-written - "The recent protests in the Middle East are as much about cartoons as the Sepoy mutiny was about bacon-flavored bullet cartridges". But I think that ground has been stomped and re-stomped so many times that it is getting a bit thin.

I think part of the backlog has been the fact I want to get things right, or at least create the illusion of getting things right. There are always going to be information that trickles out later, or hunches that prove to be false, but I'd like to as right as possible for the then-situation. And there are also things that I want to track down (in the case of the Scalzi review, it is a simple matter of confirming a memory I had about Heinlein - I just haven't gotten around to it). And part of it is that if I start talking about it, be is Katrina or state quarters, I feel a need to keep people informed. So the longer I go, the more of a train of earlier work I bring with me.

I am also very aware that the nature of blogging seems to have changed as well in the past couple years. It has gone from a bunch of folk talking about their lives to a semi-effective media tool. That means some people want to regulate it more, while others want to harness it. Look for more attempts to clamp down on blogging over the next year, as well as more major-league political and corporate entities to move into the fray, adding bloggers to the tool box of getting their message across.

This arrival of major players on the field is nothing new. Back in the day where people bought sheet-music as opposed to records or Itunes, the methods of promoting were the local taverns and theaters. And if your publishing house wanted to get attention for your songs, you'd hire a boomer - someone who would go into the bars and request the company's tunes, or go to the theater and enthusiastically lead the applause. I expect to see a lot more boomers on the net than there are already, so always be aware of who is doing the writing.

Similarly, the blogosphere is fragile. It is NOT as if everyone has a printing press in their house. Rather, it is as if everyone has ACCESS to a printing press, which is kept somewhere else, and could be hauled away in the dead of night. The difference is telling. Something can happen, when political or legal (or both), and all this can evaporate like a summer mist off the lake. You show up one day and its gone, replaced with something that is more controlled (and boring) or more corporately focused (and suspect). And it doesn't even have to be corporately controlled - a few hedgehog-shaped lawsuits, all bristles and litigation, can send out the chilling effect to shut down all but the most dedicated of opponents on a subject.

So for the time being, enjoy what goes on here - Quarters, Katrina, Local Politics, Play Reviews and all. This blog is going to remain about my life (mostly) and what I think (get used to it). After careful consideration, I am still choosing not to enable comments - the rising tide of comment spam makes me think it is the right choice, but more importantly, I'm treating this as a broadcast medium. If you want to send a letter to the editor, the email address it there in the righthand corner. I am also not putting any trackers on this site, yet, since it still feels a little too calculating. Quite simply, I would start slanting my coverage to my market, and that way lies madness. I think I want to stay an amateur in this - I have been swallowed by too many of my hobbies over the years, and I already have a job (a couple of jobs), and I want to keep this one enjoyable.

More later,