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February 12, 2005


The Triangle bloggers conference went pretty well. Sat a chair over from Dave Winer, with whom I had a mild disagreement over the importance of attracting traffic. He seemed to think the whole practice was slightly vulgar, and mostly done for the wrong reasons. That's easy to say when you're already attracting scads of traffic, I pointed out. We eventually ended it by agreeing we're both whores.

Which is true, though I suspect his price would be a lot higher than mine. I can see where he gets his prickly reputation, though if I had as many strangers presuming upon a common acquaintance in an attempt to pry out advice or collaboration as he seemingly does, I might be a tad prickly as well. Fortunately Dave didn't know me from Adam, so I was spared that temptation.

The first session was basically spent in discussing community at one's blog, and how to build it. It boiled down to "blog a lot, link a lot, and participate in one's comment's threads," which is more or less the blog equivalent of "Exercise more and eat less." Good advice, but not the magic bullet everyone was hoping for, I suspect. It was during that session that Winer asked me what I wanted an audience for.

Aside from my deathly need for the approval of strangers, the only decent reason I can think of is that an audience might come in handy one day. I don't have any idea what for at the moment, but I'd hate not to have one if a need should arise. It's the same reason I keep a fire extinguisher under the kitchen sink, though admittedly I do have some idea of the circumstances under which I'd need that.

We were on more common ground in the second--well, third, really--session on blogs and journalism. At least some section of opinion in the hall really wanted to assign blogs to a kind of journalism watchdog role, or at least that was my impression, arguing that when it comes to reporting, most bloggers simply do not have the resources with which to commit journalism.

Considering that a great deal of journalism is no more than research and synthesizing; both tasks that the Internet by its very nature makes easier, that opinion is wrong-headed, if not outright nuts. As well, simply because a blogger chooses to spend most of his time writing about his cats doesn't mean that he can't put Who, What, When, Where and How down on pixels should the need arise. It can even be journalism dealing with cats if it comes right down to it, and, thanks to archives that aren't yanked off the Net to make room for news on Britney Spears' new navel piercing, the article on cats, or whatever it happens to be, will be there when it is needed.

Eric Muller's work on Thomas Woods is journalism. My Unseen History series is journalism. Hell, the Mesopotamian Crow post is journalism, of a sort. Journalism is dead easy. Anyone can do it. They just have to decide to. It need not be an earth shattering, Pulitzer worthy scoop. Best if it's not, really. The pursuit of such is what drove the journalistic train wreck that was Rathergate, after all.

Certainly the question of bloggers as journalists and bloggers versus journalists stirred the crowd more than the "eat your spinach" advice on building community, but it was the last session. Decamped to Top of The Hill afterwards and had a beer or two in the company of Coturnix, Anonymoses Hyperlincoln, and a surprising number of my UNC co-workers, who either keep blogs, plan to start blogs, or have been tasked with bringing blog services to the campus as a whole.

And almost every one of the latter figured that, at some point, I'd be pulled into installing/administrating/creating/documenting said services.

No real surprises there, I guess. Certainly it's a damn site better than one of the alternatives.

Posted by Bigwig at February 12, 2005 08:46 PM | TrackBack
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What a great sense of humor! I enjoyed our brief chat. The subject matter was over my head, I mean I used to attend a lecture or two by Wilson, and scanned over some of his ant observations, but it sounds like you and Coturnix have taken it to another level.

Do drop me an email next time you're in Charlotte, and I promise I'll show you the site.

Peace and goodwill toward bloggers,

Posted by: anonyMoses at February 12, 2005 10:54 PM

Hey, I like your thought on the Conference. That was fun. Check out my post, as well as the new issue of the Carnival....

Posted by: coturnix at February 12, 2005 11:32 PM

I guess I am the weird one here; I used to write scads of personal letters, emails, etc. Everyone loved to get them (or so they told me), but rarely did anyone answer them. So now I blog, on a family site. That way, if my far-flung family wants to know how I am doing, they can look it up and leave a comment or two.

That also means they may get more information than they really wanted (i.e. I have an uncle who is really upset over my choice of political parties, to put it very, very mildly), but they will at least get an honest glimpse into who I grew up to be.

An added plus: my daughters can blog there too (or have me do it, which is what they usually do), and can send links to their various boyfriends, SO's, etc of their most recent pictures. Great thing if one of the SO's is on his way to Iraq...

Posted by: kschlenker at February 13, 2005 12:32 AM

Enjoyed talking to you at the con and afterwards at Top of the Hill Saturday. Just what I needed, another dang blog to read! But yours appears to be worth it.

Posted by: Tony Plutonium at February 13, 2005 10:06 PM

Sid, loved you at the conference! You reminded me so much of some of my sysadmin friends at UNCW. You're not secretly related to a guy named Jeff Honeycutt are you?

You, Ben and Ed made the first part of the day much better than the latter.

Thanks again,


Posted by: Alvin Phillips at February 14, 2005 10:57 AM

You appear to be much like your father...

"...the only decent reason I can think of is that an audience might come in handy one day. I don't have any idea what for at the moment, but I'd hate not to have one if a need should arise."

The man has 50 year-old garbage because it just might be useful one day.

Posted by: Kehaar at February 14, 2005 11:48 AM

Thanks, Alvin. No relation that I know of. But sysadmins tend to end up much like each other, is my experience. Life beats us all into the same, quivering, cynical shape.

Posted by: Bigwig at February 15, 2005 04:06 PM

It takes a lot for me to actively dislike someone, but I have no problem actively disliking Dave Winer. I once had the temerity to link one of his posts on my blog. The next thing I knew, I was getting an on-line lecture from Winer on the intricacies of Fair Use. Needless to say, the encounter left me with the distinct impression that Winer is a raging dickweed. I have since boycotted virtually anything with his name attached to it. I have a low tolerance for self-absorbed, self-important prima donnas, and Winer has amply demonstrated himself to be all of the above.

The moral of the story? Being one of the most well-known bloggers on the planet is a poor reason to be a total dickweed.

Posted by: Jack Cluth at February 15, 2005 07:06 PM
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