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State of the Blog

It occurs to me that I’d enjoy doing a State of the Blog for December, although with only 32 entries I have to give myself a pretty substantial break for being out of town. Still, my Gentle Readers contributed a total of 121 comments and only left ten of my entries commentless. So y’all have picked up my slack.

12 of my 32 entries were book reports, of which nine were new reads, so that’s all right. Among the others were a couple of the sort of posts I actually want to write, so that’s even better. On the whole, I think December was a pretty good month. In particular, if anybody missed it, I’d like to draw attention to my post on Purity and the conversation following it. That’s the sort of thing that makes the blog worthwhile: I note something somewhere, write something about it that I still like, although a wide-ranging conversation brings my attention to a variety of aspects in a variety of ways, without anybody getting cranky (as far as I could tell). Now, if I could do that once a week, I’d be getting somewhere.

That also brings to my mind something I’ve been thinking about in relation to the Koufax awards over at Wampum. My first reaction, well, my first reaction was to curse the lefty and his hated team. My second reaction was probably amusement that the award for bloggers of the left was named after someone who was only dominant for a few years, was average before, and was out of the business just after. It’s not a bad award for Blogovia, where it’s all about Peak Value. Anyway, my third reaction was that surely in a list of 160 nominees for “Most Deserving of Wider Recognition there’s room for YHB’s little Tohu Bohu. I mean, don’t I deserve wider recognition? Ain’t I a blogger and a lefty?

The thing is, though, that although I do dearly desire wider recognition in the sense that I want the ungrudging respect of admirable men and women, I don’t actually want much in the way of greater readership. Or, more accurately, I don’t want comments from hundreds of ignorant yahoos, or even hundreds of informed yahoos. I’m pretty complacent about the commenters, and given my druthers, I druther that Michael and david and metasilk and David and Nao and Chris and fran and Dan and Jed and Chaos and Irilyth and Amy and Wayman and all had a lot more free time to comment, rather than having an addition two dozen commenters. And I mean that only partially in the elitist my-friends-are-the-smartest-and-most-articulate-people-on-the-web sense, although it’s hard to imagine the tone being raised by another two dozen commenters. Mostly, I mean it in the sense that I actually know y’all, even though at least two of you I’ve never met; when I read a comment, I have a context to put it in, either through years of face to face conversations or through the occasional comments here and through your own blogs.

Now, if anybody else wants to start commenting, I’d be happy as a pig in mud. If CRConrad chimes in from Finland, or alleged-Neal-Asher, or Sozadee, or quadratic, or anybody starts commenting frequently, I feel confident my mental ability can expand to include them. Gentle Reader, please don’t think I don’t want you to comment; I do. It’s that other guy that I'd rather not have. Really, it isn’t even him, but the aggregate of dozens of them that I see on Pandagon and Alas, a Blog, not to mention Eschaton. Which is to say, I want the wider recognition I so richly deserve, I just don’t want to be bothered by that recognition or have it affect my life in any negative way at all.

Where was I? Oh, yes, the blog. Still without form, still void. Still how I like it. And still behind on vacation reading: I have four reports to write before I can pick up another book in good conscience. The rule, you see, is that the stack of completed but unreported books should not grow large enough that when it topples, I am at risk of injury.

Thank you,


Vacation reading! That's the one regret I have about my current road trip: no time for reading (aside from occasionally catching up on my friends' journals, of course!). The one dead-weight object I brought along has been Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, a ~900-page hardcover that's been weighing down my backpack all trip. I have not yet started page one, alas. (But I'm not that torn up about it, since this whole situation is brought about by my having too much non-reading fun on my vacation.)

A comment on commenting: I'm afraid I think of you as a particularly hard person to interact with in the journal world; to exchange thoughts beyond one post and one comment, if it was your post, I have to remember to come back here and scan old threads for new comments. And I have no idea how to reply to you on the occasions you've left a comment in my lj, and so haven't. (Would I reply to the comment normally, I guess? But it wouldn't get emailed to you, if you're commenting anonymously, so how would you know...) This is kind of unfortunate as you have genuinely interesting opinions and are showing no signs of coming back to That Other Forum Where People Talk About Stuff (collation is this Friday, by the way! ::grin::). I suppose it's a very petty problem - we have this amazing Web contraption transporting words back and forth across thousands of miles, and I'm put off by the lack of email notification, but, I don't know. It feels more awkward commenting here in this strange place than in my little familiar lj world. On the other hand, lots of bloggers don't have comments at all, sometimes vexingly, so I'm glad you're the kind of blogger who at least wants some of them. I feel like I should be heading for some sort of point here, which is maybe in fact a question: what led you to choose a "homegrown" journal system at a friend's domain, and are you still happy with that?

Well, and you raise interesting points. One reason I like the new recent-comments column so much is that it should make it easier for the regular visitor to know if there has been a response to a particular comment, hers or someone else's. Or, of course, you could simply ask me to email you whenever somebody comments in response to a comment of yours (I would be happy to do this for you, but if everybody wanted it, it would get ridiculous).
As for my commenting on your lj, I comment on people's journals and blogs so rarely that when I do, I generally remember to go back and check to see if there's a response to it. Since I'm not an old ljer, I'm not used to the idea of being told when somebody responds; I can see how that would be nice. Anyway, feel free to respond to any comments I put on your lj with some confidence that I will in fact go and check to see what you say. Or, of course, you can email me a response (or a copy of one); I'm clickable and all.
In fact, I've been ruminating on lj, on my own system (or more accurately Jed's), on RSS, and similar. Originally, I decided not to go the lj route as lj seemed to be set up for (a) privacy of various kinds, and this Tohu-Bohu is intended to be public, and (2) ham-and-eggs journals, which this Tohu-Bohu is not. I know that it would be perfectly plausible to do this thing through lj, but connotationally it seemed not to work. That impression was recently confirmed by Mena at Six Apart, in her discussion of lj's strengths vis a vis Movable Type.
So, to answer your question (sort of), I am happy with Jed's system (although I know I disappoint him with my curly quotes and em dashes). That happiness may be a delusion, of course, as I may have lots of readers who would participate far more actively if it were in a different form, which would give me happiness compared to which my current happiness would be melancholy.

Re: commenting: If I had the time and energy to write as many journal comments as I wanted to, your journal would probably end up with as many as all other journals I read put together. Alas, this is an imperfect world, so I only occasionally manage to actually get something up here.

One reason I'm way behind on reading your journal is that it's a separate operation from my LJ-reading. I can't easily avoid reading just one person's LJ (it's possible, but requires effort; it's easier just to read everything), whereas it's easy to forget to read your journal for weeks or months at a time.

I'm an LJ newcomer relative to some, but even in my limited experience, it seems to me that different people use it for all kinds of different purposes, and that if it serves your purposes to use it a certain way, then you should. (And, of course, if it doesn't server your purposes, then you shouldn't.)

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