tripping the life unbalanced

Sunday, September 10, 2006

this space for rant

I've just finished reading an excellent piece by Jen over at MUBAR about the business of blogging. And what a business it has become, indeed. I've had my own thoughts stewing about this issue for awhile.

We all know about the increasing presence of ads in blogs, and we all also might know about the debate around certain bigger bloggers posting ads on their sites. I don't even want to get into a long discussion of that here, because actually for the most part I take no issue with those bloggers for making that choice. I recognize how wonderful it could be for some bloggers to make a business out of blogging. In fact, I can appreciate the ways in which those ads are shown: up front and very obviously. There's no pretending those blogs are not receiving ad dollars, (wheras the looming presence of advertorials makes my stomach turn).

What I take issue with is not necessarily the intent of the ad world, but rather the intent of blogging for fame. It seems like it's become a slippery slope from blog popularity to narcissism. And this state of constant need for popularity is rooted on by companies like Technorati and Sitemeter and Blog Shares. It's a world in which links and comments become ads themselves. It's the same world of obsessing about how many links you have, who links to you (and who doesn't), how many hits you get, and on and bloody on. What is problematic, of course, is when there is more focus put on linkage and less on content. I'm no stranger to this obsession myself, and I need to let it go.

The new economics of blogging means you hold up your words as product and look for the best buyer. And we continue to push for bigger and better buyers, damnit.

Before I get a bunch of comments saying "but hey, what's wrong with being a popular blogger?" I'm not saying that popular blogs are bad. I'm not even saying that we should do away with advertising on blogs, per se. What I am saying, rather, is that the blogging world (and the "mommy blogging" world in particular, I think) could do with some reality checks in this regard. We need to shine a very strong light on the fact that these popularity contests take the focus away from the actual "product" of a blog and more towards pleasing a "buyer", or "buyers". The whole idea of blogging to please or blogging for links is disturbing at the very least.

15 Comments:

  • I agree with a lot of your post. For me, it becomes a question of sincerity. What is the motivation of the blogger? The comments and the hits and the links - all of that stuff becomes so easy to obsess over. I recently started a second blog with a (tongue in cheek) manifesto that states, among other things, that I will not obsess about comments, I will not be a sitemeter stalker.
    I find it very wierd when I hear that blogger know who is lurking their site because they trace back all their visitors' through trackers like sitemeter. The blogosphere starts to feel more like big brother (or big business) than a space for free expression.
    That said, I think that a lot of people are looking to do what they love for a living (aren't we all?) and so for those who love blogging - and are exceptionally good at it - the idea of making blogging a career is very attractive. I fault no one for trying to work it so they can love their job or can work from home to be closer to their kids. Good luck to them.

    By Blogger tania (urban_mommy), at 9:44 PM  

  • (standing up and doing my best Pretty Woman "Woo WOO WOO!")

    Now I need to be excused. My brain is full. Actually, I haven't been writing all week because I can't get thoughts like this out of my head, so I know how hard it must have been for you and Jen to articulate these thoughts so well.

    Bravo.

    By Blogger Marla, at 8:09 AM  

  • YES.

    (I would have said that on Jen's post, too, except she didn't have comments open on it.)

    Yes yes yes.

    I'll be writing on this soon, too, I imagine.

    By Anonymous Beanie Baby, at 10:58 AM  

  • Yes, yes, yes. I am guilty about the stats obsession -- I view my blog as an extension of my personality, and any dip in readership is bound to tip me into a stew of bloggy angst over who doesn't like me anymore. It's not healthy, and I need to get over it!

    By Blogger Suzanne, at 8:56 AM  

  • great post. I think you bring up a lot of valid points.

    Now if you'll excuse me I have to check my SiteMeter for the five hundredth time today.

    By Anonymous sweatpantsmom, at 2:59 PM  

  • I agree with you and Jen and Tania, et al.

    I don't really have the time to make my new blog the be all and end all - I'd still rather live my life in the meat world than dream up how I will describe it in the ether world. That being said, I can see how it can become a slippery slope to obsessing over how many hits or how many comments this post or that one generated.

    And you know, since some well known bloggers put up ads, I feel like it has stifled their writing and it has become more generic and bland.

    By Blogger Mamalooper, at 9:34 AM  

  • amen.
    i wrote about this and then became a chickenshit and took it down to edit (perhaps it was a bit 'fighty') and have not been able to find a way to get my point across without totally alienating people i do actually enjoy, but don't always um, respect.

    and caring about turning off readers, of course, just perpetuates the issue of 'just what are we blogging for?'

    anyway, you said it, and said it well.

    By Blogger penelopeto, at 11:01 AM  

  • Great post and thoughtful comments. You've totally hit the nail on the head. So much of what is probably honest discourse is lost when the "look at me, look at me!" is all that comes through.

    By Blogger tomama, at 8:19 PM  

  • I am obsessive about my sitemeter. You have brought up some great points. Blogging has become a popularity contest in a way, but with good reason I think. There are some darn good voices/writers out there and many who are not looked at that much. Sometimes I wish it was a pure forum, alas, like most things it is not....

    By Blogger crazymumma, at 11:40 AM  

  • damn. I just spent an hour here composing something I now believe will be a post on my own blog.

    By Blogger Marla, at 4:36 PM  

  • I think you bring up a really interesting point, and I've thought about it for a day before commenting.

    I suppose I feel that we as readers have the final say and that's the great democracy of the blogworld. If someone is "blogging for popularity" and therefore reads as disingenuous or worse (annoying as hell?) we can stop reading. Buh-bye traffic, buh-bye ad dollars.

    I suppose my concern is more content than motivation. You can blog for whatever reason you'd like, as long as the few minutes I spend with you a day is worth my while.

    Being a relatively new blogger, I really do enjoy seeing the perspective from the btdt bloggers who have seen the changes over time and have good reason to resent some of them. Thank you for making me think.

    By Blogger Mom101, at 7:44 AM  

  • I just linked over from your comment on Urbanmoms, and this post speaks to a lot of the things I've been thinking lately. This really is the dark side of blogging, and I think everyone struggles sometimes with keeping those competitive, insecure feelings at bay. And that's the main problem I have with ads - just the degree to which they add more weight to the issue of traffic and readership and ranking. Most of us care about that stuff too much already, and as a community we probably function best when we are worrying about it the least. (Hence the steep slide into dysfunction that seems to be taking place this weekend - just after I wrote a post about how we're all so unfailingly nice to one another!)

    By Blogger bubandpie, at 2:27 PM  

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