Don’t. And if you’ve already got one, pull the plug.
Writing a weblog today isn’t the bright idea it was four years ago. The blogosphere, once a freshwater oasis of folksy self-expression and clever thought, has been flooded by a tsunami of paid bilge. Cut-rate journalists and underground marketing campaigns now drown out the authentic voices of amateur wordsmiths. It’s almost impossible to get noticed, except by hecklers. And why bother? The time it takes to craft sharp, witty blog prose is better spent expressing yourself on Flickr, Facebook, or Twitter.
Kevin disagrees. Vehemently. Me too, though I allow Boutin more credit than Kevin because I agree about the forces of evil trying to turn the blawgosphere into a garbage dump. Try deleting hundreds of backtracks for viagra every day, blocking comments from shills and hucksters and seeing your posts stolen by bots and reposted at splogs under other names. It’s like fighting the tide.
In the beginning, the internet was supposed to be a place where its denizens would regulate themselves. We needed no “government” because we would rise up to smack down people and places that tried to turn it into one monster lying infomercial. If someone lied about something, they were called on it. If someone did something wrong, we would collectively crush them. We had the power to do it, and keep the internet pristine.
But like all powers, it takes a bit of time and effort. That’s time and effort that can be spent on something else, which means it comes at a price. As the web grew, in content, complexity and offerings, the price on our time became increasingly steep. And many eventually decided not to pay the price any longer, while new people never understood the price of keeping dog droppings off their lawn, and decided to just live with them.
Boutin is right about the forces that are undermining the blogosphere. I’ve seen them coming and have warned others (Kevin) and tried to fight them myself. But Boutin is wrong that the game is over and the blogosphere is dead. To borrow from Monty Python, we’re not dead yet. But if those of us who inhabit a real blogosphere, the one that Boutin calls a “freshwater oasis of folksy self-expression and clever thought,” don’t put up a real fight against the “tsunami of paid bilge,” it will eventually drown us.
Fight it on your own blawg. Don’t let the scum get the upper hand out of inertia or some misguided egalitarian belief that even scum should have free rein. And, contrary to my friend Kevin’s philosophy, there just isn’t any reason to promote 208 DWI blawgs even if they’re willing to pay the fee. There isn’t that much to say about it. The blawgosphere has room for people who have something worthwhile to say, but when it fills up with folks who think it’s just free and easy marketing, it will suffocate under the weight of thousands of murdered words.
Don’t tell me that Volokh, or Berman, or Co-Op, or Defending People, or Prawfs Blawg, or What About Clients?, or A Public Defender, or Deliberations, or f/k/a, or Turley, or Randazza and the Satyrconistas, and a dozen more, are dead. They are very much alive and thriving. They add to my day, to my knowledge, to my enjoyment and to my experience in the blawgosphere. I link to other blawgs liberally, perhaps more so than anyone else around the blawgosphere. I am not an island, and this is my way of thanking others who contribute to the occasional firing of a synapse. Without these blawgs, my ideas would be few and far between.
But when bad ones suck of bandwidth, or engage in impropriety, or clog the arteries, I will say so and do what I can to make them go away. I hope that the rest of my friends in the blawgosphere will do the same, fight the tide that Boutin says will wash over our blawgosphere and wipe it out. Support the good and fight the bad, and don’t let the tsunami of paid bilge ruin the blawgosphere for the rest of us.