What's All This Then?

commentary on the passing parade

Agree? Disagree? Tell me

My Other Blog

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The other day I said I wasn’t going to bother to check to see what bloggers were saying about the Libby verdict and I said that I might comment about that later - specifically the relationship between this blog and the blogosphere. Here’s that comment.

I’m old enough to remember pre-television days - a time when there was no television in the house to hold our attention and draw us to it like flies to a spider web. We listened to the radio. We read books and magazines. We spent time on chores and hobbies. Now - in my house - the television is on before dinner - a set is on in the kitchen where and while we eat dinner - and it’s on in the den where we sit down to relax after dinner. We’re addicts. Television became as common a household item as a table lamp and it became a central part of our leisure time.

Not too many years ago, there was no computer in our house. As far as we were concerned, if we ever got one it would be to do word processing and at one time we decided that a word processor would do just as well as a more expensive and more complicated computer and so that’s what we got. It didn’t last long. We quickly realized that a computer could do all the word processing we needed to do - plus provide us with the ability to do all kinds of other things.

Our first computer and our first attempts to access the world of the Internet were too primitive to imagine. I won’t try to describe them here. Let’s just say that it was like trying to drive a model T down a dirt road. Today we have a cable connection and a 160 gigabyte hard drive in our Dell - and our computer usage has become as common and as routine as our television usage. I turn on the computer first thing in the morning - usually while I’m shaving - before I hop in the shower. It gets turned off last thing at night - before we turn in - and during the day, I find myself sitting before it for far too many hours. It has become a central focus in my life - and something that I’ve decided I have to deal with before it consumes me.

There are two reasons why the computer - and the Internet - have assumed such a large role in my life. One is that I’m retired from the business of making a living - so the hours that I used to devote to that task have been freed up. The second reason is that in 2003, I was introduced to blogging - and since then, way too many of those "freed up" hours have been consumed by creating entries for this blog. I started on April 2, 2003 - and if Blogger records are correct, I have posted 759 commentaries or works of fiction since that date or close to four postings per week Some of the fiction - probably all of it - was written before I started blogging - so not a great deal of time was used in creating it for his blog - just the time it took to type it in. Everything else written here was and is original and its creation was at least somewhat time consuming.

When I started - and to this day - blogging was for my own amusement. I had no particular ax to grind. I wasn’t interested in writing a political blog or a religious blog or any other kind of single theme blog. My idea was to write about whatever struck me as interesting when I sat down in front of my computer. I hoped people who knew about it would read it and I hoped that some people would run across it accidentally and perhaps enjoy it - but I wasn’t interested in making a career out of being a blogger.

In my early days as an amateur blogger, I occasionally looked in on blogs that were called to my attention in one way or another. This may sound arrogant, but I found most of them boring - and that includes some that claim to have huge numbers of visitors every day. And I was astonished by a couple of thing. One was the number of separate entries some bloggers made in a single day and spread out throughout the day and sometimes into the night - which made me wonder how they had time to do anything else - such as work for a living!! The other was the inclusion of dozens upon dozens of links to other sites - many of them other blog sites - and that made me wonder to what use they were being put. Surely the blog writers wouldn’t be spending time clicking on all those links and reading what they found there. There wouldn’t be time to contribute to their own blogs - particularly if they were some of those all day and into the night blog writers mentioned above.

I know there are reasons for including large lists of links other than having them there for the purpose of connecting to the sites they represent - but I decided early on that I wanted no part of being a "linking blog." I have two links to blogs on my home page. One to an Israeli round up of opinion writers because I have an interest in Israel. - and a link to this blog can be found in a very long list of links on their home page. I used to have links to two other Israeli blogs - but one stopped blogging and the other included too much personal family information that was of no interest to me and it didn’t last long on my home page. And I link to a local columnist who links to me and with whom I once had a back and forth discussion with and about our respective blogs. I don’t click on him too often because I can read him in the Chicago Tribune. And as you can see I have a "non-blog" link to a commodity broker because it’s someone I know personally and whose trading judgments I trust. And that’s the extent of my involvement in linking to other parts of "the blogosphere."

For a short while recently, I found myself getting sucked into "the blogosphere" when I subscribed to e-mail editions of Capital Hill Blue. It’s run by one Doug Thompson who claims that he’s a newsman and not a blogger - but his daily output reads like a glorified blog. I subscribed because I heard someone on the radio citing an exclusive of his about the Cheney shooting incident - but it turned out to be unsubstantiated. I say I was "sucked in" because I wrote a couple of responses to things that Mr. Thompson said on his site - to which he responded with insult and arrogance - which gratefully helped me to clear my head and ask myself what the hell I was doing wasting my time this way. I’m no longer a subscriber.

I do check on a couple of Iraqi blogs from time to time, including one that I’ve mentioned here on several occasions - Baghdad Burning. And once in a while a blog pops up when I’m looking for information. - and I get a glimpse of the number and variety of blogs out there in the blogosphere. It’s staggering - and that’s at least one reason why, even though I’m part of it - I don’t particularly want to join it.

I can understand single topic bloggers having an interest in being part of a "blogging community." Political bloggers of the left and right. People writing about religion or computers or any other narrowly focused topic. But with what community would I identify with such topics as "NEW BASEBALL RULES" or "MARKET FLIM FLAM" or "BOBBIES IN TURBANS" or "PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANY PREDATORS" or "AIR FAIRS TAT AREN’T" or "ALABAMA FLYING CIRCUS" or "BRITISH BEING BEASTLY" or "THE WISDOM OF THE TERMINATOR" or "GOD/NO GOD ARGUMENTS" or "ABOUT DOGS" and on and on with almost as many separate topics as total blog posts?

What my blog is - in my humble opinion - is a "body of work" - an eclectic collection of creative writing that I might put together in book form one day and that I could just as well have produced without it being a public blog - in the same way that one might keep a personal diary. This is in a sense a personal diary - a combination of occasional comments about my personal life but not so personal that I wouldn’t want to share them with perfect strangers - my myelogram being a prime example - and commentary on anything and everything that piques my personal interest.

Where it belongs in the blogosphere I don’t know. It’s one of millions - I don’t know what the latest count is. Some I’m sure have some minor influence to narrowly defined audiences - but in spite of all the palaver I hear about the power of blogs - and in this country - about political bloggers of the left and of the right who have become known and who are thus invited to perform in other media- mostly cable TV talk shows - I don’t believe that blogs can be considered as valid a source of information and opinion as the conventional print and broadcast news media. Of course that doesn’t include blogs that are little more than extensions of conventional news media organizations - and there are plenty of them around. In fact it’s more likely to be an exception if a major newspaper doesn’t have a blog - or a number of blogs authored by some of its reporters and columnists.

Individuals like me can enjoy being our own blogging reporters, columnists, editors and fiction writers - but my view of blogging is that we bloggers shouldn’t take ourselves, our relationship with or our contribution to the blogosphere and beyond too seriously.