About Being Faithful To Your Readers

Before having this Journal, the thought never struck me.

The prospect of having a personal outlet was intriguing. The idea of being able to express my disgust with Capital Punishment or the newest in SUVs, or simply just rant over how cool the latest japanese manga looks, was too good a deal to just let pass me by.

It was only then I realised, that with great power comes great responsibility…

Shortly there-after, I discovered The Unwritten Rule.

I am talking, of course, about the responsibility to your readers. With a pagerank of 4, I can’t claim to have many readers that hold me responsible—but the feeling is there, lurking in your admin interface, just beneath the “Publish” button.

“Keep up to date, be loyal to your readers, or lose them”.

Michael recently noted the same thing, so did Jason Kottke:

“When it’s fun and it’s going really well, you feel (great), and when it’s not fun, it starts feeling like … when you have to go to a job every day from nine to five…” – Source

While I am a fierce advocate of the use of ones freedom of speech, is this paradigm healthy?

Certainly the appearance of such systems as Blogger, Movable Type and WordPress has helped internet-connected, well-educated people voice their opinion. I see this as a positive thing—despite the fact that many nations are missing out currently.

Still, writing for the sake of writing, seems wrong somehow. We are already bombarded by so much information from TV, from radio, from advertisements here and there and everywhere, in the sky, in the theater in the shopping-mall school kindergarten sportsevents cars planes trains …

I grew up being called the Zapper generation. If there was ever something we didn’t like, we would “zap” to another channel. We got it our way, we had it easy, we had it all served up in front of us on a plate, and could press the “next” button if we didn’t approve.

Perhaps it’s time we use media responsibly.

Blogging for the sake of blogging is not being responsible to your readers. If the trend continues, we might well drown in information, and the clue train will come to the end of the line. The internet could end up like television—something you turn on in the same motion that you turn off your brain with.

I have made a decision. I want no part of it. No way.

This journal was made by me, for me, and I intend to be faithful to no-one but myself.

I will use this outlet to voice my opinion, help out if I feel I can contribute, and I will do these things only if I still enjoy doing it. If I lose readers in the process then so be it—after all, I’ve maintained a site for 3 years with all but a few visitors anyway.

Why even bother?

For several reasons. For one, Google will index my site, and whenever somebody searches for “Royal Danish Wedding“, I’ll be there, voicing my opinion. Furthermore, there is little I enjoy more than a good discussion, and this journal allows for just that.

As for my monthly graphical outlet, It’ll continue as it has done for the last 3 years. After all, that was never about you.

13 thoughts on “About Being Faithful To Your Readers”

  1. Anders Aaberg says:

    I would have my own webblog, if I knew how to make a secondary admin system. It’s so nice to publish the thoughts that is jumping around in my brain, therefore I make poems and pictures… The worst thing about webblogs is that they don’t help people to make a complete homepage :-/ Thats the situation with Blogger!

  2. This journal was made by me, for me, and I intend to be faithful to no-one but myself.

    I couldn’t have put it better myself. I read your journal because that philosophy is reflected in your writing.

    writing for the sake of writing, seems wrong somehow. We are already bombarded by so much information

    There’s one big difference between the web and other media Joen. With the web, we “pull” the information, with the others (even the humble newspaper) the information is “pushed” in front of us. Sure, you can use the “zapper” to move on, but that’s not comparable to being able to Google, the zapper offers nowhere near the same level of selectivity.

    Thus I feel safe publishing all kinds of nonsense on my blog/journal. Some of my content is useful/enjoyed by group “x”, a different collection of pages are read by group “y”. I doubt very much that anyone has enjoyed everything I have written.

    My point is that it doesn’t matter. I publish what I want. My readers read what they want. Everyone’s happy.

    Vive la revolution!

  3. Joen says:

    Anders, this weblog is run using WordPress, which is free and open source. If you have PHP and SQL on your webserver, it’s a 5 minute installation ( I kid you not ). Movable Type is also great, but the installation on that is much more tricky.

    Jonathan, indeed there is that difference. But I feel like there’s the beginning of a trend here…

    The emergence of blog systems as mentioned, has made it possible for everyone to publish content. This has provided a throng of blogs that are actually the same all the way through (when you think about it). It’s a double-edged sword, because if you want an opinion on something, you have thousands at your fingertips. But where to start?

    RSS readers can make it possible to go over hundreds of weblogs in minutes. Information at your fingertips—but what does all this power do to a person? I for one, feel numb, when I hear about the latest hostage situation in Iraq. Earthquakes, thousands killed. ZAP “… Jaaaaaaay Leeenooooooo …”.

    My point is, we have so much information. How can we possibly digest all that? Indeed the web allows us to be selective… but in a way, this is no different that television. There are just many, many more channels.

  4. Nik says:

    Anders, this weblog is run using WordPress, which is free and open source. If you have PHP and SQL on your webserver, it?s a 5 minute installation ( I kid you not ).

    I can second that! WordPress is far easier to install than moveabletype. It is literally 5 minutes as Joen says!

    My point is, we have so much information. How can we possibly digest all that?

    Interesting point, my research at University included the potential for PDA and mobile devices to become a digital filter, an extended self, seeing what we see, experiencing what we experience, feeding us the details to enhance our everyday, giving us more time to appreciate the world around us that we seem to have less and less time for.

    Just my thoughts… 😀

  5. Michael says:

    RSS readers can make it possible to go over hundreds of weblogs in minutes. Information at your fingertips?but what does all this power do to a person? I for one, feel numb, when I hear about the latest hostage situation in Iraq. Earthquakes, thousands killed. ZAP ?… Jaaaaaaay Leeenooooooo ??.

    I’ve felt the same way for a good deal of time now. When the whole blog thing caught on with me, I did what I often do when something catches my fancy. I grabbed on for dear life and absorbed everything I could possibly get my hands on.

    A good way to start out I migth add, but at some level I think it took me a while to figure out that as far as my personal information concumption went, I was in charge; so any info-saturation could only be dealt with by me.

    This is related to what you’re saying, in the sense that, while there’s certainly a degree of responsibility lying with the bloggers around the world, it’s also up to the individual (you and me) to understand our personal information intake.

    In my case, I’ve been aggresively turning down the amount of input and output I deal with every day, through my own blog and from other blogs.

    The point I guess, is that while a computer can help you with information overload, it won’t do it by itself. Our job, to remain sane, despite our constant curiosity, is to wrangle the computer into submission in such a way that we do not over-saturate our curiosit, and instead understand when and how to use such tools as Google to retrieve normally extraneous information…

    Did that make any sense?

  6. Michael says:

    PS: I read, some while ago, an interesting observation, which is related to all of this. Basically it noted that due to the ease with which we can publish information to each other, the actual amounts of available information we can potentially sort through is exponentially outgrowing itself.

    Because, with every day that passes, we constantly preserve information from as long ago as the ancient civilizations, we are now dealing with this insane mass of constantly growing knowledge.

    The problem is that our ways of interfacing with all of this data is as slow as it was 100 years ago. Sure we can more easily search through books and the web and what not, but we still have to absorb, something which can not be done faster than it could when H. C. Andersen lived.

    At some point we invented ‘filters’, such as the nightly news. But they too are getting swamped with inputs, to the point where the experts are getting so much input that there mere mental structuring of it is almost beyond that of a human being.

    In the case of the news, it isn’t that more things are happening in you’average’ war than it did 50 years ago, it’s just that due to the ease of publication, we now have access to all of these things.

    The result of which is. that we start applying our own filters so to speak.

    I hardly ever check any official news (as in TV-avisen) broadcasts or websites any longer. I just can’t keep up, and instead I have taken the approach that if something important happens, my personal network of friends and family, off- as well as online will somehow notify me (usually through blogs).

    And it works…

    So in the end, perhaps we need to act as each others filters…

  7. Joen says:

    Nik,

    “… the potential for PDA and mobile devices to become a digital filter, an extended self, seeing what we see, experiencing what we experience …”

    Call me dimwitted, but I’m afraid I don’t completely understand this. Does it mean that the PDA will filter my news based on preset preferences and show only that which interests me?

    Michael,

    In your first post, I think you did make quite a lot of sense. It is a good point, that we have a personal responsibility to control our curiosity. After all, we know what happened to the cat, heh heh.

    Thinking about it, this very rant, is actually just that: a statement that I intend to hold on for dear life, to that which is essential: the love for my trade.

    About the exponentially growing amount of information, intriguing, and very true. I do, however, watch “TV-avisen” (nightly news), and do so quite often due to sheer interest me. In particular “DR2 Deadline”, which I think is a very slowly paced and relevant newsoutlet. I am, however, feeling swamped in news, which again, is part of the cause for this rant.

  8. rooney says:

    I second that. I just started blogging and I consciously decided that I was only going to post something if I thought someone could genuinely enjoy it.

    No offence to anyone, but I don’t see the need for a ‘say nothing’ post just for hte sake of posting. Already, quantity is far outstripping quality in the blogging world. Why add to the quantity?

    And hell, there’s only a pile of technology out there to notify you of new content.

    “I write for myself, and publish for money”

  9. Joen says:

    “I?m not one of our eighteenth century writers: I write for myself, and publish for money, certainly not for the smiles of the fair sex.”

    Found this. Is this the full quote?

  10. rooney says:

    I’ve never heard the “smiles of the fair sex” part.

    I haven’t figured out what the appropriate paraphrase for the world of blogging would be. Since 99.999999999999% of all bloggers don’t make a cent from “publishing” i think it would be something like:

    “I write for myself, and publish for traffic”

    OR

    “I write for myself, and publish for blogshares”

    …something like that…

  11. Nik says:

    Nik,

    ?… the potential for PDA and mobile devices to become a digital filter, an extended self, seeing what we see, experiencing what we experience ??
    Call me dimwitted, but I?m afraid I don?t completely understand this. Does it mean that the PDA will filter my news based on preset preferences and show only that which interests me?

    My fault , I never explain things properly! We were looking at devices that monitor content (visual, audio, documents etc..) as it is stored and filters new information feeds according to previous content within the device.

    The main idea behind this was when your bluetooth/wifi device is in a ‘live’ environment (live meaning wifi remote information feeds) it scan’s feeds and downloads/retrieves content which it believes you will be interested in.

    Apologies if this was waaay off topic and makes no sense! 🙂

  12. Nik says:

    Comment above was mine! Sorry, forgot to fill in all the boxes! Damn I’m tired! 😀

  13. Joen says:

    Oh ok, now I get it. It sounds like it could work.

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