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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Observations of the Blogosphere: Errant Muses and Stalker Fans

Sometimes being a blogger is so annoying. For example, this post came to me in the middle of the flossing portion of my nightly routine. I’m almost done with keeping up with my dental hygiene and in comes my Muse. He’s all awake and ready to go. I need to have a little talk with him because he’s a little too fond of the bubbly. He sleeps all day and then wants to party all night, every night. He demands my attention when I am ready for sleep. I have tried to schedule appointments with him during Ellie’s nap time but he is way too hung over at that point and no amount of coffee or coxing can get him up to work. Sigh.

Anyway, here are the realizations I had delivered direct from the muse in the middle of a good flossing:

Observation #1.
I have to admit I didn’t quite get this next fact right away. Sometimes I can be a little slow or over confident – depends how you look at it. I realize now that being a professional blogger is harder than it looks. Not that I am a professional blogger. But I have been reading some of the big blogs and didn’t really appreciate how hard that is to pull off. Reading a professional blogger’s blog is a bit like watching
Nadia Comaneci get a perfect 10 in gymnastics. Now, many of you may be too young to remember her but she was perfection in motion. She made it look like doing back springs and handstands on a 4-inch beam of wood was easy. As a young gymnast watching her way back when I was inspired. Good bloggers, professional or not, are like that. They post each week and make it look effortless. But, it’s not.

I really admire,
her and her and him and him, and I am not saying this in a kiss ass way which will tie into my next point. I watched Heather talking about “Getting Naked on the Internet” here. She discusses how she made the decision to be as transparent as she can about her life. She’s pretty damn transparent. She is also pretty consistently funny, profound and sweet 4 times per week. I noticed that she has a pattern to her posting and definitely a routine in terms of posting links, photos, and posts. She’s got it down.

Transparency. I am still struggling with this. Not that I think Heather is 100% transparent or even 80% but she is well beyond 50% transparent about her life and that’s quite a lot if you think about it. Would you be willing to reveal the inner workings of your mind and the day-to-day details of your life regularly for years and years? How much would you dare to share? How much do you care if you scare the crap out of your friends and family by letting them know the weirdest bits of your inner workings that all get glossed over in normal day to day interaction? So hats off to all my favorite bloggers for sharing parts of themselves that sometime give words to things the rest of us might be feeling but have never dared to bring to full consciousness. It’s hard work.

Observation #2
In this
post I mentioned how there were cliques in the Blogosphere. Recently I have also noted that there are also groupies and stalker fans. And they can be pretty annoying. Of course I don’t have any, thank god. These wannabe professional bloggers kiss ass in the comments of major blogs. It’s such a transparent way to try to drive traffic to your site. There are even some who admit this. I don’t mind that as much, other than it being useless, off topic and will ensure I never go to their site. For examples of this take a look at any photo Dooce has ever posted. Do you hear the big smacking sound of ass kissing? Not that she isn’t a talented photographer, she is. But I swear she could put up a picture her own turds and people would be saying things like, “Oh, that is so cutting edge.” And, “Wow, even your shit is gorgeous? Can we see Jon’s too?”

Seriously, there is an organizational dynamic phenomenon that is at play here. It’s about authorizing a member of the group to be loved and to set the standard. It’s all anxiety driven but that’s too long of a topic to get into here. The beloved can do no wrong. As in Dooce’s case there is a royalty like thing going on. Of course she has pissed off the whole right wing side of the Internet. Which is also part of being authorized to the point of celebrity. It’s the dark side of a shiny, shiny coin. Very interesting to watch if you are an organizational psychologist geek like me. Ara, please chime in if you are reading this as you are an even bigger geek about these things than me. And that is a compliment to be sure.

In the spirit of trying out some new level of transparency, I admit I have wanted to be linked to a more popular blog to the point of kissing the blogger’s ass. But that’s over now as I realized they were just schmoozing me right back, fair play to them. In truth it’s not worth the humiliation of having to express wonder over someone else’s shit.

Here are some of the characteristics I have noticed about blogs that have become so viable the blogger can support themselves and their kin if they so choose:

1. The blogger’s predicament in life that they are blogging about is something a great many people relate too in a variety of ways. It could make them laugh, cry, gasp. There is definitely a shock / humor factor that comes into play here. Dooce excels at this.

2. You have enough writing talent to keep people consistently entertained.
The thing you are blogging about is topical/specific and becomes a resource for others. An Example of this is
Ask Moxie and some of the other Parenting Blogs. But it could be any blog dedicated to one topic that a lot of people are interested in like Fusion View. If you are lucky you find your community and the viral marketing nature of the Internet happens and your blog is vaulted into the main stream as seems to have happened to Clare’s blog. She touched a nerve and a need in others to look at the good things at a time when there is a lot of chaos and war.

3.You are a savvy enough blogger to participate in blogging forums, conventions, and hosting ads. This is the whole business end of the blogging machine and there are a lot of behind the scenes entrepreneurs out there working the Blogosphere market.

Ok – that is all my muse could give me as he had a hot date at some exclusive muse club. I am sure he will be around to pester me later this evening.