For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, a CPA turned marketer, Vin Messina, has taken a shine to the criminal blawgosphere. He sends me emails asking questions or making observations about how I run this blawg or about criminal law issues. He twits about criminal defense lawyers. He even wrote a post trying to use the Gary Ostrow posts as a lesson for marketing.
I mostly ignore Vin. He can be a bit much, and the relationship is more than a bit one-sided. I get nothing out of it, except the loss of time I’ll never get back. He uses “lol” a lot. Apparently, I amuse him.
He’s a nice enough guy, but he often doesn’t “get” the posts here. When he emails me a question, I sometimes respond that he’s “dense.” He replies that he’s not dense, but simply lacks the background necessary to appreciate why something (puppycide, most recently) is a problem. He informs me that I ought to explain it better for guys like him, provide them with the background they need to understand it fully. That’s what I should do.
Marketing guru, Seth Godin, wrote a post this morning that made me think about this.
Is it for people who are interested, or those just driving by?
For the informed, intelligent, educated part of your audience? For those with an urgent need?
Is it designed to please the lowest common denominator?
Granted, this ultimately goes to marketing, but that’s what Godin does, so it’s understandable. Yet, these quoted questions are the sort of thing that runs through a guy’s head as he writes. What makes this interesting is that a reader doesn’t have these thoughts at all, and doesn’t have any reason to consider why it’s not all about him.
Vin thinks it should be about him. I don’t say this to hurt his feelings, but it’s not about him. It’s not about the guy who just showed up here today for the first time, reads one post, and feels compelled to enlighten me (or you, the other readers who might benefit from his insight) on a subject about which he knows nothing but has opinions.
On the twitters, Keith Lee of Associate’s Mind wrote that the blawgosphere has lost much of its “vibrancy.” While I’ve come to a similar conclusion, it’s for somewhat different reasons. Keith blamed it on laziness, that blawgers just can’t muster the energy to write, and so they don’t, their blawgs go fallow and they fade away. While there may well be some of that, I don’t think that’s the problem.
Assuming a blawger doesn’t write because “writers gonna write,” then the vitality of a blawg is more about it being fun and enjoyable for the blawger. This is, obviously, an entirely different issue if it’s a marketing blog, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. That’s dreck, and everybody knows it. Deny it all you want, but you’re fooling no one.
The problem for the blawger goes back to the questions raised by Godin, which, twisted just enough to apply to non-marketing, asks whether the expectations and demands made of the blawger, by the day tripper, the butthurt, the person whose sacred cow just got slaughtered, the interested but not particularly knowledgeable, are worth it. They suck the joy out of this.
Years ago, when the blawging community was still “vibrant,” there was a synergy that developed. Murray Newman reminded me of this with a post about how, when he first started his blawg, I ripped him a new one and he nearly closed shop there and then. Fortunately, he stuck it out.
In looking back, he noted how so much of SJ was a conversation with Mark Bennett back in 2007, who entered the blawgosphere about the same time. We would go back and forth, debating issues, problems, solutions. We got so deep into the weeds sometimes that we would forget what exactly we were talking about. Those were fun times. And to the extent there is an audience for whom I write, it’s Bennett. It’s Brian Tannebaum. It’s Gideon and Eric Mayer and Jeff Gamso.
These are the guys, and others because the list gets unwieldy very quickly, with whom I want to grab a beer, talk about law stuff, hear their thoughts and offer them mine. It’s not to be dismissive of non-lawyers, who get very sensitive about the fact that they aren’t lawyers and, as they tell me regularly, “aren’t entitled to an opinion.” They may be, but that doesn’t mean I have to give a shit.
If someone wants to read SJ, I can’t stop them. I can’t make them either. It’s entirely up to you. But if you do, and if you want there to be another post here tomorrow and the next day, then consider what you contribute to its existence. Some of you donate, which is very thoughtful and appreciated. Some of you inform me of what I can do for you, because you are the center of the universe. You tend not to donate. And some of you suck the joy out of doing this.
For the ones who don’t give a damn whether SJ is around tomorrow or not, carry on. You are the lowest common denominator, and there is nothing to be done about you. For the ones who want to see another post here tomorrow, try not to make this as unpleasant for me as possible.
And for those who just showed up today, get a feel for the place before deciding to leap in blindly or inform me what I can to do make your world better. As for Vin, keep on trucking, dude.