First, there's an anecdote about a woman who went on a vacation with her husband, and he got up and went in the bathroom, where he stayed for a long time. Turns out, he was blogging! Okay… and? What if he was reading? The guy was nice enough to try not to disturb her. Why is it a problem? Well, because:
For some, [blogging] becomes an obsession. Such bloggers often feel compelled to write several times daily and feel anxious if they don't keep up. As they spend more time hunkered over their computers, they neglect family, friends and jobs. They blog at home, at work and on the road. They blog openly or sometimes, like Mr. Wiggins, quietly so as not to call attention to their habit.
"It seems as if his laptop is glued to his legs 24/7," Ms. Matthews said of her husband.
So, secretive blogging: it's like drinking on the sly. If you're hiding how much you do it, then you must have a problem. Except, if you're blogging, the whole point is to expose all your writing to everyone, so how can you really ever be doing it on the sly? Is this Wiggins-Matthews couple worth our attention? He wants to do something he likes and she wants more attention. Isn't that the old marital story? What's the difference between them and some couple where the husband watches sports too much? Couples will forever be mismatched in their preferences for solo versus joint activities. That's not really getting to the core of anything significant about blogging.
Next up for the Times is the fact that bloggers may not have much of an audience:
A few blogs have thousands of readers, but never have so many people written so much to be read by so few.
Wait a minute: what about all the centuries of letter writers, when many, many people would write pages and pages to be read by only one person?
[I]f a blog is likened to a conversation between a writer and readers, bloggers like Mr. Wiggins are having conversations largely with themselves.
The suggestion is that blogging is masturbatory ... which explains why Wiggins locks himself in the bathroom.
Mr. Wiggins …does not know how many readers he has; he suspects it's not many. But that does not seem to bother him.
Enough with this Wiggins character! We're told he blogs about technology issues, yet he doesn't know how to install a Sitemeter?
The next problem is that a blogger might have too much of an audience:
Perhaps a chronically small audience is a blessing. For it seems that the more popular a blog becomes, the more some bloggers feel the need to post.
Tony Pierce started his blog three years ago while in search of a distraction after breaking up with a girlfriend. "In three years, I don't think I've missed a day," he said. Now Mr. Pierce's blog … averages 1,000 visitors a day.
But too big of an audience doesn’t really seem to be Pierce's problem (assuming he's got a problem):
Mr. Pierce … said blogging began to feel like an addiction when he noticed that he would rather be with his computer than with his girlfriend - for technical reasons.
"She's got an iMac, and I don't like her computer," Mr. Pierce said. When he is at his girlfriend's house, he feels "antsy." "We have little fights because I want to go home and write my thing," he said.
Everything is an "addiction" now. (I'm cutting many of the repetitive statements in the article on the theme of blogging as addiction.) This guy can't get a laptop? Or is he just one of those people who take every opportunity to say they don't like Macs?
Okay, we've got our anecdote guys out of the way. Time to talk to an expert:
Joseph Lorenzo Hall, 26, a graduate student at the School of Information Management and Systems at the University of California at Berkeley who has studied bloggers, said that for some people blogging has supplanted e-mail as a way to procrastinate at work.
People like Mr. Pierce, who devote much of their free time to the care and feeding of their own blogs and posting to other blogs, do so largely because it makes them feel productive even if it is not a paying job.
Like people who cook, garden, and pursue other hobbies?
Finally, a voice of reason is brought in:
Jeff Jarvis, president of Advance.net, a company that builds Web sites for newspapers and magazines, and a blogging enthusiast, defended what he called one's "obligation to the blog."
"The addictive part is not so much extreme narcissism," Mr. Jarvis said. "It's that you're involved in a conversation. You have a connection to people through the blog."…
Mr. Jarvis characterizes the blogging way of life as a routine rather than an obsession. "It's a habit," he said. "What you're really doing is telling people about something that they might find interesting. When that becomes part of your life, when you start thinking in blog, it becomes part of you."
"Thinking in blog"—that's a good phrase.
I've talked about blogging a lot with other bloggers, and it seems that if you enjoy doing it you also feel pulled into the activity and have trouble tearing yourself away. But don't we want to have avocations like that? Isn't that what it's like to love doing something? In fact, I'd rather have an obsession than a "routine" (Jarvis's word). Bloggers are actively reading and engaging with what they read. Writing is a way to think and understand. Blogging lets just you share those thoughts with anyone who decides to show up. … and become fascinated by how many people show up and who links to you and where you rank on various charts and all sorts of other things that the Times would be tsking about if it noticed.
UPDATE: Nina agrees.