This weekend I was listening, thinking, and talking a bunch about blogs. I write this post at the suggestion of Ernie, who suggested that my relatively new entrance into this world affords me a freshness of view that the venerable bloggers out there don't have. I don't think so, and this build-up makes it sound like I have thought about blogging with discipline and thoughtfulness. No such luck. But I'll write it anyway, because that's how I am.
Here's what I've noticed about the blogs out there, and what I've decided I like. There seem to be a bunch of blogs that are mostly pointers to other spots on the web. There are pointers with bits of commentary. There are feature writers, who start with a link and then comment on it, adding thoughts of their own and thoughts of others that might turn out to be connected. There are navel-gazers, who write mostly about the stuff in their own heads, without much linking. Of course there are blends of these.
My reaction: I'm not very interested in the pointers, except for a very few. If you're just pointing, there's no human voice, and I can probably just Google around and find the same articles. There's a cool-hunter aspect to the linking -- BoingBoing has pointed me to lots of interesting places that I wouldn't have thought to look at -- but I don't get that excited about abdicating authority for finding things that interest me to someone else. I value the pointers with the bits of commentary more: the commentary gives me a sense of the author, and therefore helps me value the external link a little more, to decide whether I want to bother to go read it. And sometimes the commentary is enough for me. I like the feature writers a lot -- like ethicalEsq? or Professor Bainbridge -- although I value conciseness in posts and tend to skim these and say "cool -- I'll check this out when I have more time" a lot. And I have a real fondness for the navel gazers, which best describes my own blog, I think.
From a blog I want first and foremost an honest voice. I want a glimpse of daily life, the feeling of how it is to be the author. I like a bit of a theme -- Michael Toy thinks about faith a lot, and I like the way he describes his struggle, and ex-drunk is working on staying sober, and IA is keeping his sense of humor at the skyscraper lawfirm he's at, Bekah's telling it like it is in law school. I come to trust these folks, and by their writing live imaginatively through some experiences really different from mine. And I come to care about them, so although I return to hear more about those experiences, I delight in the little glimpses of the other parts of their lives.
I want clear writing -- fresh, brave, unlabored. I think I like brevity, although I enjoy longer posts too. I want regular updates. I don't want snarky political commentary, generally, although I read a little now and then. I don't particularly want legal analysis -- I get to read that enough, thanks -- although sometimes it's well done and appreciated.
Just tell me what you know, tell me what you're worried about and what you're doing and thinking. Tell me stuff only you know -- your thoughts, your reactions, your experiences -- because I can find out the rest for myself on Google, most likely right from the mouths of the experts. Maybe it's your link that will direct me there, but that should be because it's gotten you thinking or mad or puzzled, not just because you linked there without showing me why it should matter to me. I'll try to do the same. [And apologies right now for failing, in all the ways I have failed and will fail.]