Thursday, August 17, 2006

Nicholas Carr's Blog: The Great Unread

"Once upon a time there was an island named Blogosphere, and at the very center of that island stood a great castle built of stone, and spreading out from that castle for miles in every direction was a vast settlement of peasants who lived in shacks fashioned of tin and cardboard and straw."

Once upon a time there was a mainstream blogger who ran out of things to write about and started writing fairy tales instead.

There is nothing worse than seeing someone question the mechanism that got them where they are. Sort of like a spammer who makes millions spamming people and then forms an organization against spam. "Hey! I made mine, party's over now pal!"

Of course the dynamic doesn't just apply to money-making. Ask Senators-for-life Robert Byrd or Ted kennedy (to name just two). Big companies (Microsoft) get into the cat-bird-seat and can't be moved, and some dynasties seem like they might (GM) go on forever. Whole industries (US Steel, RCA) undergo total upheaval in order to unseat just an incumbent or two.

While there may be many people who have been defrauded by the notion that they would get their 15 minutes of fame by blogging. I suspect this is not a common occurrence.

I started using the Internet when it was mostly still character mode. No fancy graphics. Web browsers had been invented, but were not well known yet, and my tool of choice was Gopher.

Still, hardly a day passed between my discovery of "the Web" and my desire to own my own web page. I have not been without a public web presence since, even though it has undergone many changes in domain names, formatting, and choice of topics.

There was a time, LONG before the term Blogging was invented, when I updated my page daily, and I did it in an additive fashion, so in every respect, save the tools I used, it was a Blog. I still use the equivalent to "notepad" to compose my blog entries by the way.

I am not ashamed to say that few people IF ANY read my "blog" back then and I'd guess that my numbers have hardly improved in the years since.

I have tried to get some friends to read my blog, but other than the particular post I point them to I doubt they ever come back (if so they never remember to mention it). I get e-mail messages from these same people asking me how I am doing or what my opinion is on a particular subject when the answer is right there for the world to see. I post under a pen-name because sometimes my opions are rather strong, and I have friends who I'd just as soon not have an argument with.

So why do I keep it up? I agree with Dead 2.0 that it is largely ego. But I also enjoy the writing, and if I wasn't writing this, I'd be writing an e-mail message, a forum post, or a letter to the editor somewhere. I've written a few letters to the editor, and not one has ever been published. Poor me. Worse yet, I don't think I have influenced the editorial policy of the newspapers one iota.

Should I end it all for want of being Nicholas Carr? Who's book "Does IT Matter?" I haven't read, but who's blog I was introduced to by Robert Scoble, who is very confused about the history of computing. Answer: No IT doesn't matter, nor in the big picture does the History of computing, who invented RSS, or what caused RocketBoom to explode (implode?). People are already taking all these wonders for granted that we used to salivate over, and they don't care how they came about or who wins the battle over credit that we see being fought out daily.

Why do people keep diaries? I think blogging answers the same urge. I have bits of paper I wrote on in high school. Looking back on them reminds me of how small my world was back then. I worried too much about the wrong things. I didn't write anything that would give me "first mention" rights to anything important going on today. With people today claiming credit and statues made of themselves for the most tangential reference to some new concept, I doubt my batting average will improve in the future. Here is one: For the future in which people will not be able to board any public transport with their own toiletries, I propose a new business that will catalog their personal preferences and have a small parcel with all their needs waiting for them at their destination. Call it "shaving kits -R- Us" and for anyone who tries it, I'll expect a big fat check for the rights. I have Google servers as my witness!

But as my two previous (or is it two next) posts will demonstrate, there is more to blogging (if that is what the world insists on calling it this week) than peasants (like me) versus the big media monoliths. Those old timers are in a world of hurt and it has nothing to do with me or anyone like me. It has to do with the mythology of the product they were pushing being exposed for what it is: A lot of dead trees being chopped down for no good purpose.

Electronic publishing, video on demand, and magically appearing shaving kits: All good things, and if the Washington Post, Wall street Journal and Microsoft can keep up, more power to them, if not, they'll continue to get my ridicule, and one of these days I can point back to these posts and say "I told you so." That's why I blog.

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