May 15, 2005

Blogging, how hard can it be?

A history prof -- David Greenberg -- tries his hand at blogging -- guest-blogging on a well-established site -- and then dashes off a NYT Week in Review piece about how surprised he was that it was kind of hard. Well, at least he slams The Huffington Post on his way down.

The comparison to HuffPo is apt. Like the HuffPo bloggers, Greenberg didn't really give any thought to how to blog well.

I'll just find an article, opine something, then see if I get a lot of comments. Not as many comments as Dan Drezner? Waaaahhhh. This is too hard. I have a wife, a job, a baby. Those successful bloggers must be losers.

He admits it's hard but only hard in a way that's not really worth doing:
The best bloggers develop hobbyhorses, shticks and catchphrases that they put into wider circulation. Creating your own idiosyncratic set of villains to skewer and theories to promote - while keeping readers interested - requires as much talent as sculpting a magazine feature or a taut op-ed piece.

Let me go back to my taut, sculpted writing and leave the blogosphere to those less fussy writers who do shtick.

NYT message in publishing Greenberg's pathetic -- not taut! -- whine: Shun the bloggers! Stay here with us, where work is edited -- sculpted!

Lamely, the NYT attempt to link to Dan Drezner's blog doesn't go to the blog. And Greenberg's attempt to link to his wife's blog is taking us nowhere too.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan thinks I'm being too hard on (his old friend) Greenberg. He thinks I'm being "touchy." Oh, but Andrew, acting touchy is my shtick!


Akiva said...

Why are you surprised? The MSM has gone on and on about how bloggers are rabble and blogging isn't a serious business. So, if it's being done by rabble and is a joke, it must not be hard.

Why a public personality, especially an entertainer, who understands that it takes some effort to develop an audience, would think blogging would be an instant hit is beyond me (except for my first point above).

I was having a chat with some friends yesterday, and my wife mentioned that I'm blogging. They spoke up and said, 'Hey, maybe we'll blog too.' 'Great', I said, 'it's open to anyone with a computer and net connection, but doing something interesting and getting readship, that's hard work'.

Oscar Madison said...

I really like your running theme of celebrities/writers/etc. who find themselves befuddled by their own lame blogging attempts. If that's "schtick," so be it. Sticking a pin in pomposity never grows old...

neo-neocon said...

I agree that Greenberg's article fairly drips condescension. But I actually had a very different take on it. For some reason (I'm in a good mood today??), I decided to emphasize the positive I saw in the article, which was that a guy who initially figured blogging was going to be a cakewalk discovered a new and grudging respect for blogging and bloggers, once he actually tried it himself. I see his remarks as an advancement over the "bloggers-are-know-nothings-in-pajamas" attitude. I think Greeberg would now amend it to "bloggers-are-know-nothings-in-pajamas-and-work-boots."

Ann Althouse said...

Akiva: Did I say I was surprised? As to celebrities, I guess they are used to everyone caring about their little comments. But when the comments are in writing and are about political topics... it's just a chore. It's not light fun anymore.

Oscar: It's just amazing how inflated people get thinking of themselves as real writers. They think they can just start and they'll be good, like Michael Jordan taking up baseball -- though I don't think Jordan was arrogant about it, was he? Didn't he just think maybe he could do it. Not, step aside, here comes a real athlete.

Neo: To me his respect is entirely phony, full of excuses for why he's actually better for not being able to blod.

amba said...

He could blod just fine, maybe even blof . . . but he fell short of blogging.

Dean said...

The best bloggers develop hobbyhorses, shticks and catchphrases that they put into wider circulation. Creating your own idiosyncratic set of villains to skewer and theories to promote -while keeping readers interested - requires as much talent as sculpting a magazine feature or a taut op-ed piece.

I read this, one who has read your blog for quite ahile and having noted your sitemeter, and conclude Mr. Greenberg is not well-read blog-wise. And I know yours is not the only one. He is right about some bloggers, but certainly not all.

purple_kangaroo said...

I wonder if maybe there are two types of bloggers, which overlap somewhat--those who blog for an audience, and those who blog for themselves?

Ann Althouse said...

Dean: Thanks.

Purple: I think a lot of people who are writing to express themselves still want readers. And people who begin with the desire for readers and are saying something as a means to that end are (satisfyingly) unlikely to succeed.

anonymous said...

"The best bloggers develop hobbyhorses, shticks and catchphrases"

shticks? A guy named Greenberg doesn't know that "shtick" is already plural, and needs to write shticks?

what a pretentious ass.

1) one can disallow comments on a blog

2) he prob. didn't realize that linking to other bloggers' posts would drive up traffic

Peg C. said...

"hobbyhorses, shticks and catchphrases" me that says point-of-view, something I demand from the bloggers I read. Also, Rush perfected the art years and years before bloggers came along.

Neil Conway said...

Far from being another example of the MSM looking down on bloggers, I think Greenberg got it mostly right. Think about it: if blogging is easy, if any idiot can do it, then it is at least plausible that bloggers really are a bunch of pyjama-clad amateurs. But if it takes some real talent -- not to mention intellectual firepower and writing ability -- to run a successful blog, then maybe there really is something to these "blogs" after all. Greenberg admits he began the exercise thinking "how hard can it be?", and eventually acquired a grudging respect for the really good bloggers out there. Is it pretentious? Sure. But it's also progress from the MSM.

L. Ron Halfelven said...

Blogging is not something that just any idiot can do. It takes a certain special kind of idiot. (g,d,&r)

steven edward streight said...

Er...excuse me but Everything is Easy if you don't care about quality.

Art, music, cooking, blogging, making babies, getting drunk, preaching a sermon...'s all easy, if you just bang it out.

Successful Effective Influential Blogging is not easy. It requires hard work, smart thinking, and time.

MSM is vanishing down the toilet.

Andrew Sullivan is wrong. You're not "touchy".