Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Blog Post No. 700: The Many Hazards of Blogging

And so, ladies and gentlemen, I throw myself upon the mercy of the Court! Oops, wrong speech. Let me start over...

Welcome to my 700th blog post! My musings have been appearing here more or less daily for almost two years now. How long I can keep this up is anybody's guess. My early fear that I would run out of topics has not been borne out. Quite the opposite, in fact. There are far more things I want to write about than I possibly can get to.

Attempted Bloggery was founded on the premise that each of us has something interesting to contribute to the general discourse. My own inclination has been to write about subjects on the basis of my enthusiasm for them, rather than any of particular expertise. I bring the qualifications of a decent visual sense and a fair ability to write, both of which are essential for the type of blog I aim to produce. Oh, like just about everyone else, I can also do a mean Google search. Nevertheless, I'm always grateful when others can add their own personal insights, particularly those things that come from life's accumulated knowledge and experience rather than from mere search results.

I've found along the way that there are many hazards of blogging. The first is the high-profile visibility of one's mistakes. There is always that concern that one simply won't be intellectually up to the task at hand. A blog is a very public place. When one fails to do one's homework, the resulting errors or inconsistencies are apparent to all. I try to use my fallibility as an asset, often asking readers to help out with what they themselves may know that I don't. I frequently amend my posts to reflect information I did not have at the time they were originally written. Such updates at the end of a given post allow me to maintain the original flow of content without having to rewrite it all from scratch. These can also provide a chronology of how information has been added. The downside of this is that what you get wrong is on display for all to see.

A blog can showcase one's weaknesses as well as one's strengths. For example, I have started a new series of posts chronicling my entries in The New Yorker's Cartoon Caption Contest. This is something that the late Roger Ebert did exceedingly well, producing one actual winning caption and a number of excellent entries besides. I expect no such stellar accomplishments myself. Rather, now it is not only possible for readers to discern my ignorance, they can also glean just how unfunny I may be as well. So be it.

But criticism is rare. The overwhelming response to anything I post is silence. With a bit over 200,000 page views, this blog has received a bit over 200 comments, not counting my own responses. That's about one comment per thousand page views, hardly sufficient to provide the active interchange of ideas I'd love to see here. One of the challenges, then, is keeping the posts coming at times when there's little or no feedback of any sort from readers.

Of course, there are those who prefer to communicate with me privately via email rather than publicly on the blog, and that's great. There are also those who leave public comments on social media such as my Facebook page rather than on the blog itself, sometimes apparently without clicking through to the blog post. Fine. On the blog, there are a few regular contributors to the comments section. I would place the number in the high single digits. These are the people who constitute my most consistent contact with my readership, and I treasure them.

Perhaps the greatest hazard of blogging is the ever-expanding time commitment. As the blog gets bigger, it becomes more difficult to keep all the older posts updated while providing a steady stream of new material. Using time for blogging means it is not used for other worthwhile things. For example, I would have been far better off these two years using my blogging time for, say, exercising, although in reality there's no way I would have done anything like that. The truth is, the time I now spend blogging was previously spent playing Mafia Wars and not playing tennis. Mafia Wars was a game where I had to work harder and harder all the time just to stay in the game. It was very much like running in place. When I stopped playing, my previous achievements soon became essentially worthless. At least with the blog I have a public record of my efforts, one that I'm fairly proud of, in fact. Even if I weren't blogging, I would probably not be using the time to study or write or get enough sleep. That, after all, would be sensible.

Finally, there is also a monetary expense to blogging. This hazard is mostly one of my own making, so I'll accept full responsibility. If I decide to attend an event so I can write about it, for example, then that is a personal choice I have freely made. Similarly, I don't think I have any right to complain about it when I start writing about something offered on, say, eBay and then decide to buy it myself. You see, in many ways, the hazards of blogging are integral to the very process of blogging.



  1. "The overwhelming response to anything I post is silence." Oh my gosh that's funny and I can certainly identify. A good caption for your new side job? I personally stop by everyday for a dose of sanity, and have learned much from your good blog-housekeeping and organizational skills, in addition of course to your content. I'll bet you didn't know you are my blogging mentor. Congratulations - Blog #700 is a joy and an inspiration. Leo

  2. Thanks so much, Leocadia. I always said you were one in a billion.

    No, I had no idea I was your blogging mentor. But I bet you knew you were my Dylan mentor!