What I Hate and Love about Blogging

I hate that blogging is a quantitative business. I’m not talking about eyeballs and page views here. You gotta eat, right? I’m talking about assembly-line creativity. X blobs of “content” per day.

I hate that assembly-line blogging arises out of resignation to the notion that people won’t read. If we produce only one or three excellent stories per day, not enough people will read them, the thinking goes. We’re better off constantly updating, constantly getting in the Internet’s face like a mosquito, so that irritated people will occasionally slap. It isn’t true of a quality audience, but the thinking holds.

I hate that the assembly of blog posts is treated as a competitive industry. Pro bloggers behave as though page views are scarce. That’s a poor description of reality. Attention is scarce. Page views are the freest, most abundant thing on the Internet. But the assembly-line blogs have all fallen into the same patterns, because they all must meet their quotas. On the path of least resistance, they all cover the same things. Thus, the headline becomes the most important part of the article.

I hate that blogs develop fatigue because of the grinding nature of their business, so that no energy is left to experiment. We go with what works and can make only small and frivolous adjustments. Joke headlines. Infographics. “Hey, let’s use more pictures!” Giveaways. References to bigger, more viral flavors of the day.

This is not a limitation of the blog medium. It’s a failure to take advantage of its simplicity. The blog is the minimal tool of the real-time, social Web. And this is what I love about blogging.

I love that the blog is a blank box. A practiced blogger can abuse the box into holding many kinds of shapes. An expert blogger can reconstruct the entire box. One only needs to be a hack Web designer to be a world-class blogger of shapes.

I love that any number of digital skill sets can be used to color in a blog’s shapes. A blogger can be a writer, a photographer, a filmmaker, a podcaster, a musician, a painter, alone, in combination, or all at once.

I love that the costs of producing a blog are so minimal that those who are good at it can make a living.

I love that so many developers, designers, engineers and companies have put so much work into making the blog accessible from all kinds of devices in all kinds of places. The shapes on a blog can be multi-dimensional, able to re-flow themselves into differently sized containers and be valuable in all of them.

I love that all the great science-fiction writers are right: a high-tech future without high-tech storytelling would take us nowhere.