Wednesday, August 03, 2005
Invasion Of The Casual
To be honest, I had a feeling taking requests for blogpost topics would blow up in my face.

After being savaged in the comments following yesterday's totally magnanimous and helpful post made at the request of readers and written with readers in mind, I've decided that the mistake was mine, not yours. Nobody is surprised when a man who shuns human society in favor of the company of grizzly bears in the wild is subsequently eaten by the bears. You don't blame the bears. It's not the bears' fault. It's just bears being bears.

That was the mistake I made yesterday. You don't make eye-contact with wild animals. They take it as a challenge. What you're supposed to do is make a lot of incoherent noise, wave your arms, try to make yourself appear larger than you are and back away, slowly.

I neglected my blog's strengths, which (I think you will agree) have been just those things: unnecessary histrionics, fatuous self-aggrandizement and subtle, constant retreat. So far that strategy had managed to keep me un-mauled up until yesterday.

I guess I should gird up the ole loins because the problem is only going to get worse for me. More and more people are joining the ranks of the blogged at an alarming rate. A report from BBC News says that the blogosphere is adding one new blog per second. More bloggers means more readers, which for me means more people to disappoint and agitate. The number of potential bears is growing exponentially, so now instead of a few bears, I have to worry about a whole swarm. And you know what happens when you disturb a whole hive full of sleepy bears: they come flying out in a thick black cloud, swarming and stinging, formless and omnipresent at the same time, attacking until their prey is driven off our dead, all because I foolishly hoped to for a taste of sweet, fresh honey.

Hang on, I might be thinking of bees.

Anyway, there are are a lot of them.

I have some problems with the blog study, though. First of all, it seems to have used Technorati as its primary research resource. Anyone who has used Technorati recently knows that it only works about half the time and when it doesn't, it gives an error message saying it is currently experiencing "too much volume". That's now. I started this post about fifteen minutes ago, which means that in the time I've been typing, according to the BBC's numbers, 900 new blogs have been created. And Technorati couldn't process what was happening before I started. Just think of all the cat pictures and knitting circles that aren't being logged or chronicled because Technorati isn't up to the job. Poor choice of tools, BBC. Bad form, my English friends. Wot!

Also, I liked this quote:

Thirteen percent of all blogs that Technorati tracks are updated weekly or more, said the report, and 55% of all new bloggers are still posting three months after they started.

Only thirteen percent are being updated "weekly or more"! That's a complete and total relief. Just when I think I'm about to be run off the map by a bunch of Johnny-come-latelies, it turns out that these people lack the dedication, the drive and the will to become real bloggers. I know who these people are, these "new bloggers": these are people with lives. They're (and I gag a little when I say this) hobbyists. The heard about blogs in Newsweek or on MSNBC or something and decided it would be a hoot to set one up. So they open their blogger account, write something like "we wen 2 gt tapas w/ gretchen and mik downtwn ystrday. wuz AWSUM!!!!!!!!!!!!!! talk to you all soon. l8r" and then leave it blank for two months when they learn how to post pictures and leave us all with the fascinating photo of a wall in their house that we were all dying to see.

Hobbyists. Part-timers. No-hopers. We're all in danger, people. The lightweights are coming. They're threatening to turn our trend into a fad. Sure, the spike in intense interest will be nice, but that kind of thing can't sustain itself. If we're not careful, the blog will burn out, go the way of the dragon-emblazoned muscle shirt or the ascot. We as a nation still haven't sufficiently healed from those two losses. Don't let this happen to blogs too.

What can you do? I'll tell you: we all know the kinds of people who are the problem. They probably just bought an iPod. Before that they were on the Atkins diet and before that they bought tech stocks. These are the people who will do the Macarena, not for the kitsch value, but because they love it. The time is coming when they mention to you that they heard somewhere about these "bloogs or blugs or something" that they think they should get in on. Maybe they heard you were into that sort of thing and would like to get your input.

Your job is to gently--but firmly--discourage them in any way possible. Tell them blogging is really technical. Tell them it's a time-sucking bore. Tell them it's actually physically painful. If it helps, bring something shiny and jangly to distract them with, like car keys or some marbles. Do what you can, but whatever you do, don't let them blog. Your survival may very well depend on it.

Good luck, soldiers.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 3.8



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