Monday, June 18, 2007

Actually, I'd consider paying most of these people to stop blogging

Get Paid to Blog Full-Time for a Year: dumbest non-Bush-administration idea of the year

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Friday, December 29, 2006

Why I Stopped Blogging and Why I Came Back

I'd been blogging or whatever it was called since the earliest days of the commercial web. Indeed, back in '94, I started my "personal web page" by posting a daily-updated list of what I was reading. It was tedious (not as tedious as this), but it was merely early-adoption tedious. From May 2001 to July 2004, I maintained a blog called "Quantity Over Quantity," the idea behind the name being that speed and volume were more crucial to successful blogging than the quality of the content itself. On July 14, 2004, I closed "Quantity Over Quantity" with the following post:

A pal suggested I check my automated Blogger profile, so I did. Some relevant data points:

On Blogger Since: May 2001
Avg Posts Per Week: 3
Posts Written: 542
Words Written: 71,642

71,642 words. That leads to this pair of data points:

Words written since May 2001 that have appeared on my weblog: 71,642
Words written since May 2001 that have appeared in a published book: 0

Enough is enough. I'll continue to update the weblog chronicling The Sandinista Project, because that's an ongoing, finite work. Whether in success or failure, it will end. But this 71,642-word endeavor now will be updated at a more appropriate pace. Think glacial. Yes, I know I went on a long hiatus once before and I came back, but that was before I was confronted by the number 71,642. I may change my mind again. I've been known to do that. But for now, bye.

So, what have I done since I abandoned my blog two years ago? I did write that book, which started out being one thing and ended up being about Bruce Springsteen, called Runaway American Dream (mercenary Amazon link) (New York Times rave, available only to TimesSelect subscribers). I am working on another book, which may be finished before I die of old age. And I did complete producing that record, The Sandinista Project, which is coming out March 27. The magazine I was editing for Forrester Research when I closed the blog closed down as well, I followed that up by editing a leadership magazine for Merrill Lynch and freelancing anywhere that would have me, and I spent much of last year dealing with an injury and subsequent surgery. (I'm fine now.)

I'm working on a number of projects right now, the two newest being editing Release 2.0, O'Reilly's revival of Esther Dyson's legendary newsletter, and serving as editorial programmer of a conference, "The Economics of Social Media," that paidContent will present on April 26.

Now, I'd like to answer some imaginary questions.

Why now?

Since my two newest clients are O'Reilly Media and paidContent, two entities well-known for communicating extremely well via blogs, it seemed that I was kidding myself that I was (with the exception of the "finite" Sandinista Project blog) an ex-blogger. I've been writing for many different places over the past year -- from Fortune to Child to various management consultancies I am contractually prohibited from naming -- but there is plenty I'd like to write about or point to that makes the most sense under my own banner. If I want to be part of the conversation, I've got to talk and listen in the same medium that everyone else is now using.

So, unlike those other venues, this blog reveals the "real" you?

To some degree. Like all bloggers, I attempt to make myself seem smarter, cooler, taller, and more attractive than I really am. I hope I'm the "real" me everywhere I go, but this blog takes in only a slice of who I really am. This is about close interests, but it's not personal. If I fight with a loved one or miss someone or bounce a check, you won't read about it here. I intend to be honest here, but that doesn't mean I'm going to be one of those bloggers who chronicle every damn thing. I'm egotistic enough to think you might be interested in what I think about some variety of topics, but I'm not delusional enough to think anyone will care what I had for breakfast. Unlike "Quantity Over Quantity," I have turned on the comments section here in the hope that it will take more than a few minutes for comment spam to take over.

How frequently will you blog? You did have that word "Quantity" in your old blog title.

My goal is to make this a "real" blog, updated multiple times a day, linked only by my idiosycratic interests, limited only by my semifeeble/semifertile imagination. But every member in my family has gotten used to a roof over his or her head and food on the table, so my for-pay writing and other work will inevitably hold sway.

Uh, Jewels and Binoculars?

It's a typically unexplainable line from Bob Dylan's "Visions of Johanna" (lyrics, Wikipedia). It's also the title of a particularly tedious (and, of course, beloved) Dylan bootleg. Somewhere down the road I may let on why this blog has this name.

What's the best concert you attended while you were away?

That one's easy: Levon Helm, at his barn, last November: the greatest "Take Me to the River" I have ever witnessed. Many thanks to Owen O'Donnell for giving me a reason to go.

What's the best book you read while you were away?

The Road, by Cormac McCarthy. After decades of grafting his apocalyptic style onto decideldly nonapocalyptic events (dumb guys on horses, usually), the guy finally figured out the right mix.

What's the best book you wrote while you were away?

Ha ha. I'm still working on it.

So will you write about works-in-progress here?

Only to the extent that doing so forces me to complete them. The threat of public humiliation can be a powerful motivator.

Are you back for good?

I don't know. Blogging is an ugly word, after all. At least my self-imposed retirement lasted longer than Jay-Z's. For now, it's nice to be back. Happy new year.

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