I’m beginning to wonder if you are not intimidated by the blogging phenomenon. Perhaps you look at it and see the inevitable passage of your time in the spotlight. By my count, your recent PC Magazine column, “Co-opting the Future” is your 5th—and lamest-assault against blogging. Since you first exerted your influence against it, blog readership has increased by more than two million, according to Perseus, the research firm you cite in your article.
Last May, was bad enough when you argued blogging will prove to be just a passing fad because it had strong connections to San Francisco where the Macintosh remains popular. I had hoped that this had been just a failed humor attempt, but now I suspect it reveals a flaw in your personal logic chip. You predicted then that within the year, Nightline would interview Dan Gillmor about blogging, before the phenomenon disappeared into oblivion forevermore. You have five months left on your forecast, John. Would you care to place a wager? I’ll spot you odds.
Your most recent attack seems to me even more inane. Others, including eWeek’s Steve Gillmor have done a superior job in rebutting your assertion that blogging will die because there’s a growing number of people who start blogs but abandon them after a year. I thought Steve missed one germane point: The number of people who start blogs and keep them going for more than a year is also increasing.
That is not why I think it’s time for you to go home. I become embarrassed on your behalf on two comments which indicate you might just be too tired to continue in your current role. You sound, in fact, more ready for a new career in ceramic crafts at your local senior center.
You observed that many of the best-read blogs are by journalists deceiving themselves that they are increasing their own circulation. Well, the fact is that they are increasing their own circulation, but where you lost it from my perspective was in your comment, “The most common reason for [blog writing] abandonment is simple is boredom. Writing is tiresome. Why anyone would do it voluntarily on a blog mystifies a lot of professional writers.” John, have you ever heard of Thomas Paine and a free pamphlet called “Common Sense?” The technology has changed from Paine's days of wood block printing and free hand-distributed scrolls, but the guy did it for free, or so I'm told. Today, blogging makes it easier and more effective to publish an opinion, that could change the course of things to come. That is hardly tiresome to many of us.
John, the most polite word we have for professionals who do it for cash alone is “hack.” You were once among the best of technology's champions. You were the computer buddy of choice for a great number of us in days when we needed one. I'm disappointed that you've grown so tired of your work. Unlike you, other journalists often have a need to express something not in keeping with the style, space limits, content or editorial policy of their own traditional publications. They turn to blogging to express themselves. You argue that blogging won’t replace traditional journalism and I agree. Rock did not replace opera, jazz or anything that predated it. But it changed our definition of music and enabled fusions like “Tommy.” Blogs, the Internet and e-mail have already changed traditional journalism despite those who will deny it. The result, I’m sorry to have to tell you John, is that you are just not as important as you once were, and it is unlikely that you ever will be again.
Of course, you can discredit me. I’m just one of those unpaid amateurs you view so disdainfully. I blog because I have no ZD Publishing or PC Magazine paying me to express myself, and candidly, I wish it did. But at least blogging allows me the sheer joy of being heard in an industry where I feel great passion. I’ve only been blogging for about three weeks and am ecstatic that more than 2000 people have visited my blog and some of them have actually responded to what I’ve had to say. Perhaps, I’ll tire of this in a year. Perhaps not. But when I feel as you do that “writing is tiresome,” I’ll abandon my blog just as you should now abandon your column.
I assure you, there will be plenty of candidates to replace us both.
PS—I’m about your age or older than you, John. It ain’t the years. It’s the attitude.