Shopping Channel

One of the oldest columnist's tricks is to write a column about how hard it is to write a column when you can't think of anything to write about in your column. Fills up those column inches quick, doesn't it?

No wonder journalists are so keen on blogging, then, where now instead of writing an occasional blog entry about how to write devoid-of-genuine-content blog entries, they can simply provide a few links to other blog entries that are pretty much the same thing, and yet still appear to have written something. Sweet! It's almost like winning a Pulitzer Prize based on the uncredited work of an unpaid stringer.

Rannie Turingen of photojunkie : remix spoke a couple of days back at the Canadian Association of Journalists 2003 National Conference. He cited the "quality of links" as key to the sucess of "being a good blogger." And this is where I get stuck.

Certainly Rannie isn't alone in his focus on links — sites like PhotographyBlog are more collections of press releases than anything else — a blog not on photography, but camera marketing. It's an important distinction.

At the crux of this problem may simply be the the definition of a "good" blog (and to be fair to Rannie, he does mention including some content among the clickables, as his own site shows). How can one rate success? The blogging "community" certainly seems obsessed with ratings, rankings, and valuations. Everything a number. How do you rate on On blogshares? How many blogroll clicks have you received?

This focus on counting clicks saddens me because it seems to be deeply opposed to the idealistic notions behind words like "personal publishing." The minute you start counting clicks, have you subverted the subversive idea of blogging itself? To worry about ratings and market share is to imply some sort of crucial commerce, though bloggers pride themselves on their sites devoid of popup ads and sales banners. "Personal publishing," one might idealistically think, could bypass all that worrying about appeal to the least common denominator, focusing on ideas and content that were truly personal, measured by their intrinsic importance and relevance — not ruled by PR mechanisms, the arthmetic of the calendar, or worries about whether you're rated #86 or #87 in the top 100 MT sites within a five mile radius.

Sadly, not. So many clicks to count, so much energy foisted on popularity. Yet another example of a little rule that I call:

The Principle of the Universal Secondary:

Given time, everything eventually degenerates into High School.

Comments on "Shopping Channel"

May 29, 2003 04:43 AM

I mentioned the importance of links in what I wrote due to the orgin of the blogging concept; people who used to to presurf the web and post interesting links, giving commentary on what they found. Essentially being filters.

Of course this isn't the only way to have a good blog. but merely one of the mainy ways.

Unfortunately on my site, I didn't clarify that. and the piece was merely a couple of points that i really wanted to get across that i didn't get a chance to.

June 2, 2003 10:04 PM

I understand that some blogs grew out of sites like metafilter (which in turn grew out of ancient proto-filters like the NCSA "Cool Site of the Day" page, on which — shock! — the earliest version of Botzilla was actually featured, back when it was on

Somehow, this got tangled up with diary logs, and then diaries became a list of link which is not far from a daily catalog of the day's consumption of consumer goods — especially when the lists are collections of commercial press-release-driven links to, say (to pick up on the topic du jour) the Canon G5 release etc. When you are what you buy, or worse: when you are what you window-shop, then culture has arrived to a very sorry state.


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