Why Blogger Empowers Mindless Nits.
January 12, 2001 7:36 PM   Subscribe

Do not shoot the messenger.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 7:36 PM on January 12, 2001



Irony is thick in this one. He more or less is what he hates, but only because it looks like he hasn't read the endless tirades on the same subject. He can write, he just needs an actual topic. And now he'll get massive hits for a pointless, hackneyed rant.

I say again (though don't take it too personally):

posted by frykitty at 7:57 PM on January 12, 2001

Firstly, this man is doing us all a great favor by writing this wonderfully articulate piece.

If only he wasn't jumping on the bandwagon a little late. I thought the long, drawn out "Blogger sucks, all they do is link to eachother" pieces were done. Apparently not.

Here's my problem with all of this:

I had this idea today (funny how this gets posted right after I have this idea). Let's examine newsmedia.

A story breaks. Everyone grabs their camera-people and get in their vans and drive there, making it there about the same time as all the other reporters.

They all take the same picture(s) from slightly different angles, as they're all piled together in one big lump shouting questions.

They all report the same story, basically, with the same questions and quotes, because the subject or witness was only interviewed once, and only answered a few shouted out questions.

All of these stories make it to the newspaper evening or next day edition.

The linking news-type-blogs do exactly the same thing. Why do you read the New York Times over the Washington Post? Because you like the comics, or a certain newsperson, or maybe you read both.

Each news-type-blog is basically a newspaper. You to one or several of them because you like their perspective, and maybe some of their little tidbits here and there.

Except with newspapers they all claim to have gotten the story, which they sort of did, but they never saw who shouted out what questions. Bloggers do. They say "hey i got this from here, isn't this horrible?", etc.

I'm not snuffing anyone's opinion. All I'm saying is sit back and think more about what you're going to write a long winded diatribe about. Compare it to something you use daily. See if it matches up.

Do I think Blogger is a great tool? Yes. Do I use it? No. Does it bother me that Jimmy-blogger and Sally-blogger just linked to the same post? No. Why? Because I don't read the Washington Post. I read the New York Times. And Stevie-blogger already posted that link, so it has no impact on me.
posted by christian at 7:57 PM on January 12, 2001

Please oh please let's just let this one pass without the endless stream of the same hackles raised arguments like "it's just a tool" and "if you don't like blogs, don't read them" and so onnnnnnn.
posted by ericost at 8:00 PM on January 12, 2001

This article is proof that bad content can be produced without the aid of Blogger.
posted by jkottke at 8:01 PM on January 12, 2001

The internet is full? Can I sublet my space?
posted by gluechunk at 8:05 PM on January 12, 2001

What is a "waste of bandwidth" anyway? My waste of bandwidth might be your essential internet application.
posted by davidgentle at 8:14 PM on January 12, 2001

Oh, boohoo! Like bad web pages didn't exist before Blogger!What a complete waste of bandwidth this 'article' is. . .
posted by Mr. skullhead at 8:30 PM on January 12, 2001

When I rule the Web, nobody will ever be able to complain about how "X" ruined the web by allowing any idiot to publish on it until they are willing to show us their very first homepage.

You don't sign up for a geocities account, all excited about the wonder and possibility of it all, and immediately crank out design that rivals Glassdog. First, you write code that barely works in any browser, and you use graphics that are bloated, and you write about the first things that come to mind. You learn....you get better, your design skills get better, your content improves. Maybe you never build anything as nice as Glassdog, but nothing is ever as bad as your first homepage.

So when I read this sort of 'it was so much better until X tool allowed These People to use the web' I always wonder what their first webpage looked like. Blinking text, animated gifs - I bet this guy had the works. And now that he doesn't, he hates anyone that is still in that part of the learning curve.
posted by kristin at 9:04 PM on January 12, 2001

Christian, timely analogy, since I'm reading a book about “the media” that asserts “news” is little more than propaganda. One of the reasons “journalists” flock to, and trust implicitly, the same “sources” is because there is no incentive for them to “report” the truth. They rely on “information” remaining scarce or false so the oligarchy can steer government, and by extension the entire population, to it’s own goals. Which is little more than quiet servitude. Worth the read.

If you brush away all the spite in the “Nits” essay you can see “Morbus” is a humanist. He was hoping for more from people, but the way they've chosen to express one another — bits of meandering commentary, “pilfered” links, “Blog Wars” — is a let down to him. I agree emphatically on one point: “link trails” should die a sudden death.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 9:06 PM on January 12, 2001

As I see it , the problem is, there are too many people under 50 .
posted by ojsbuddy at 9:11 PM on January 12, 2001

posted by harmful at 9:53 PM on January 12, 2001

I promise not to rant this time. (He e-mailed me because of my manifestito and I can't imagine why. I guess he got somebody else to give him publicity ...)
posted by dhartung at 10:05 PM on January 12, 2001

We should get Caleb Carr to decide which blogs are up to snuff.
posted by aaron at 10:34 PM on January 12, 2001

Well, the way I see it, see, is Blogger is just a tool. And if you don't like blogs, don't read them.
posted by sylloge at 11:51 PM on January 12, 2001

Not every little peice of text in the blogger database is meant to bee seen and read by the entire world. Granted, it's out there on the web so someone you don't know is going to end up reading about how Shirley broke up with you at the drive-in last night, but a good portion of content managed with blogger is meant to be read by family and friends and really not much else.My friends and I set up our own weblog to write about our weekend adventures and post messages. Did other people read it? Sure. Did a lot of other people read it? Nope. Did we care? Not in the least. We thought the stories we wrote were funny, and they were for us and us alone.The only reason things like that get out there is because spiders don't reason. They find you, they crawl you, they toss you into the database with everyone else.Most people's first web ventures end up churning out crap, and those who have the mindset and potential to do something more meaninful will eventually grow out of the applet and 500k imagemap phase. Those who stay in that phase aren't being held there by blogger or any other "userfriendly" app, they would have stayed there anyway.
posted by tomorama at 12:10 AM on January 13, 2001

Depending on how one looks at it, the Internet is forever either half empty or half full. It's never gonna be completely full. So on that point the guy's wrong by a long shot.

What the majority wants does tend to get more attention than what the majority doesn't. It's not necessarily right. It's in fact kinda suck. It's like watching talk shows like Jerry Springer get all the attention when people should be filling their brains with informative PBS documentaries. However, people get BORED by PBS documentaries. At much as Springer is trash, it's not boring. It attracts the lowest common denominator, but those vapid people also pay attention to commercials, which is what the advertisers want. So it all boils to money. I can understand the frustration of this guy, but he obviously hasn't developed much of a thick skin, has he? People on the Internet can put up stuff that they personally enjoy but the majority of the world finds to be crap. The majority of the world will just not beat a path to their door and eventually the crapper will get the clue. Or if they don't get a clue, they are eventually squelched. I still have faith in the Internet as a whole. Despite fears to the contrary, it's still rather self-policing. If your shit is good, in theory the world will find out. If it's schlock, in theory the world will find that out too. This guy just doesn't like the fact that what HE thinks is schlock sometimes gets praised.

As for Blogs, I realized years ago that most personal web content, including what I used to churn out, is verbal masturbation. You're talking to yourself and hoping someone is listening in. Like standing on a street corner. Not that there's anything wrong with that but I prefer going to places like E2 and Metafilter, where groups of people congregate and share views and ideas and anecdotes and links and have occasional word wars and just generally interact with each other.

Blogs are okay, MeFi takes it to the next logical level. Like a sandbox filled with words... Gee I dunno. Blogger's not the final step to inevitable doom like this "disobey" doomsayer is preaching. It's another milestone on the journey. It's another fork in the road. And yes it's a tool. It's potential hasn't yet been fully tapped. Maybe that's what this guy's bugged about. Blogger could be so much more and the masses of people are using it for schlock. But this guy isn't contributing anything much more meaningful.

And y'know whut? Neither am I. Are you?
posted by ZachsMind at 12:48 AM on January 13, 2001

The nit-picker writes:

most are pointless wastes of time, replacing dog pictures with the color of the moron's underwear

What'd you write about? Depression? The fact that your cat wouldn't lick your balls? The fact that he still wouldn't after you rubbed tuna on them? Does anyone but you care?

Gee, hmmm. And I suppose writing about one's lame little life and the completely pointless details that nobody really cares about are always useless. And that nothing that mundane could every possibly be interesting in its own right? And if you're too lazy to do what Blogger does without its help, you aren't worth noticing?

These blogs are the experience of real people's lives, filtered through real people's sense of what of those lives they find important enough to record and share. Every blogged link caught some real live person's attention for long enough to hit "Post & Publish." This connection enough is worth something, or ought to be. There's Art in even the most artless of blogs, perhaps.

posted by grimmelm at 12:52 AM on January 13, 2001

Most novels churned out each year aren't worth reading, yet when's the last time you heard anyone condemning the entire artform because of that? In what creative medium *isn't* it true that most work created in that medium isn't worth reading/seeing/hearing? And why do weblogs get singled out for it when they're no less an exception to the rule (nor any more without its fair share of brilliant and beautiful content) than any other medium?
posted by Noah at 1:00 AM on January 13, 2001

This is just the same old anti-usability garbage that's been going on forever. It's no different than people's hatred of AOL or Geocities or any other service that makes it easier for the computer illiterate (or close to it) to get onto the web and start messing around on it.

Despite the fact that most weblogs are useless and boring to me, I think it's great that they exist, whether they're entertaining hundreds of people, one person or even just themselves.

And I can't honestly say that a whole bunch of boring text is cluttering up the net more than, say, the billions of megs of hardcore pornography being tossed around every day.

So, like, shut up, grey text on black background man. It's not Blogger's fault that most humans are boring.
posted by frenetic at 1:02 AM on January 13, 2001

All I have to say is... (and pardon my language) lighten the fuck up....


who the hell do you think YOUare to be judging these people?
posted by tj at 1:16 AM on January 13, 2001

i hate it when metafilter becomes some ranter's external message board. but what do I know, I'm drunk off my ass.
posted by chaz at 2:33 AM on January 13, 2001

"Most novels churned out each year aren't worth reading, yet when's the last time you heard anyone condemning the entire artform because of that?"

Thanks Noah! I knew I've been forgetting to do something all my life. The pointless mediocrity of modern mass-published mainstream fiction. I need to insult that. I think the reason I don't generally is because I generally don't read it. I ignore its very existence. And if one doesn't pay enough attention to something, they really shouldn't insult it, it makes them look stupid. ...come to think of it, I think I'll continue to just ignore the pointless mediocrity of modern mass-published mainstream fiction. I don't read it. It usually is way below my radar. For all intents and purposes it doesn't exist and hasn't existed since maybe a couple three decades after Mark Twain's death.

Maybe Morbus' problem is that he's not actually looked at Blogs and personal narrative enough to have an informed opinion about it. I mean he's probably only gone to the blogs that his friends say, "hey check this one out this one's really bad! It's so bad it's funny!" But he obviously hasn't gotten a well-rounded perspective on what makes personalized content on the Web important and amazing to so many people. We can't all be him. Or her.

I think havng people like me out there looking real bad just makes the talented people look that much better by comparison. Everyone serves their purpose in the big picture.
posted by ZachsMind at 3:02 AM on January 13, 2001

If only people could just learn to love each other
posted by Postroad at 4:35 AM on January 13, 2001

I too was a mindless nit before I was empowered.
posted by soviet.funk at 7:39 AM on January 13, 2001

this writer isn't even grounded in reality. he confuses media hogwash with actual events and his own faulty perceptions.

"These magical pages were the dirge of the Internet - everyone hated them, everyone complained, everyone thought they were horrible."

sez who? him?

"Years later, the pages disappeared from public view - sure, you can find them by looking at any local ISP's homepage list, but they're no longer prominent - you have to search to find 'em."

and just exactly how were personal home pages "prominent"? And just exactly how did they "dissapear from public view"? someone moved 'em all? password protected them all? what, when they were "prominent", you just automatically saw them or something, and that's no longer true? this is baloney.

"The desire for content moved toward the desire for content aggregation, or "portals". Those died. Then we moved to "push technology", where piss-rich content was considered the rage because it came to you without asking. And nowadays, content has been neglected in favor of "services" - sites which allow you to accomplish some task besides just passively reading."

whose desire for content moved towards a desire for content aggregation? portals didn't die - they never lived. "we" moved to "push technology" which was "considered the rage" - by whom? push, like portals, was an approach touted by ignorant media moguls who thought the web should be more like television. push never happened. nobody but kim polese and a handful of goombas with money to invest in any harebrained scheme available ever cared about push. this guy cannot apparently tell the difference between reality and self-serving media propoganda!

this guy is a walking, talking, blogging example of exactly what he is bitching about.

posted by quonsar at 8:00 AM on January 13, 2001

I would just like to point out the this guy is right. Most of the stuff I post daily is pointless, inane, juvenile, and probably of no interest to anyone except my friends and family.

There, I said it and I'm not ashamed.

Ummmmm...... What do I do now?
posted by y6y6y6 at 8:20 AM on January 13, 2001

Although this link's rant does unfortunately display the same emotional maturity and level of insight that render most weblogs unreadable, I do sympathize with the general criticism of the increased provincialism engendered by weblog proliferation. I am uneasy with the idea of people reading hours' worth of weblogs daily and their novelty tokenism, instead of spending some of that time, say, reading this week's Economist and learning how billions of other people lead their lives. I know, one can take any given leisure activity and say one should be doing something better with that time, but something about the morbid self-obsession and physical disconnect of weblogs struck me, especially in an age when what media you consume determines how much of the world you recognize as existing.
posted by Joe Hutch at 9:10 AM on January 13, 2001

Reacting to content of dubious quality gives it more credence than it deserves. The article itself is almost amusing in parts, however the archives are terrible, and not even in a "gee that's so bad it's compelling" sort of way.

If people keep reacting to this sort of stuff, it will be open season on Bloggers twelve months of the year. If one is going to take the time to respond to criticism in a meaningful manner, then surely it should be in response to a piece that has at least some passing merit.

posted by lucien at 10:11 AM on January 13, 2001

When someone (including myself) criticizes something, it's probably because the person criticizing usually believes they could do better - but often they don't express that part of themselves because they're still learning who they are in that area. The examples here about stages in web design are really good. And if you're criticizing 'lame designs', you're probably moving away from that level yourself, but haven't turned around to put your attention on what you're moving TOWARD yet. (If you can talk about 'lame designs' with no malice, you've got no issues with it anymore, and don't need to 'react' to it.) And some people never turn around and look ahead at all. My question is - why waste time and energy on stuff you DON'T like and DOESN'T please you? Because in a current mindset, that's what sells and gets attention - but that kind of feedback is really lame in comparison to getting excited about new ideas and expanding possibilities - that's just a well-kept secret. So - what would this author be doing if he wasn't spending his time tearing down what someone else has created - maybe he's afraid of his OWN creativity.Or maybe not. I DO have at least three degrees in pop psychology from non-accredited schools..... LOL.
posted by thunder at 10:18 AM on January 13, 2001

I recently started doing a weblog, after reading an article from CamWorld. I don't use Blogger, I'm not a web design guru, and most of the people who read my blog are not bloggers. But instead writers and other 20 something African American women, who are interested in most of the same stuff that I like music, books, movies, some politics, AA sites, etc.

Weblogs are not going to be everything to everyone. Most of the weblogs out there I would never read because the writer does not hold the same interests as myself, but that's not the point. If you don't like the blog don't read it. With anything else magazines, books, music, all of them have a purpose but you have to find one that expresses what you need.

Somedays my weblog can be a journal entry, news update, or an opinion. Its whatever I want it to be.
Like the Rock says "It does matter what you think", the web empowers people. So find something you like or create your own.
posted by passionblack at 11:39 AM on January 13, 2001

Uh - what's this "blogger" thing? Can I use it, too?
posted by m.polo at 12:19 PM on January 13, 2001

BAD troll!

But really, why are you bloggers so thin-skinned? Honestly, it's so damn easy to get y'all riled up. Calm down. Methinks you doth protest too much.

And yes, people make sweeping generalizations about media all the time, so please, relax and keep linking to each other.
posted by solistrato at 4:36 PM on January 13, 2001

I didn't take this personally (in fact the author says he reads ME regularly and so he wouldn't count me as a mindless nit), but it annoyed me politically. The whole point of blogging is, to me, open revolt against a broadcast culture. If you accept that there isn't a programming committee in New York somewhere deciding what's good enough for you to see, well, you're going to see some crap. And since, to me (and others, like Passion there), blogging is about the writing process more than the reading process, the very act of using a tool like Blogger is likely to provide someone the escape from the pit of being a mindless nit.
posted by dhartung at 7:33 PM on January 13, 2001

The Web has already created its pastoral myth, it seems, of bucolic days before Netscape and BLINK tags. It didn't exist.
posted by holgate at 2:46 AM on January 14, 2001

Before Netscape and blink tags? ASCII and grey backgrounds.
Old-skewl, maaaannnn....
posted by metrocake at 8:36 AM on January 14, 2001

Hey now...we have to start somewhere. As I read some blogs, I can see a definate improvement of content and layout as time passed from the first time they posted to now. The more I read (and post) the more I learn. This is giving me and others somewhere to start.
posted by Princess Buttercup at 6:28 AM on January 15, 2001

To be anal-retentive, that dude should have titled his rant How Blogger Empowers Mindless Nits. So far as I can tell he never even addressed the issue of why Pyra would do such a tewwible tewwible thing.
posted by kindall at 9:57 AM on January 15, 2001

I thought the best part was when he said Blogger's neck should be "wrung with a fury unbridled by the power of a thousand wild horses. " When you can't even follow the logic chain of your own metaphors, it's time to lay off the crack pipe.

posted by JParker at 9:20 PM on January 15, 2001

Blogger shouldn't be blamed for bad content or bad pages. These things existed long before Blogger did and no one complained. If we're going to start judging what is a waste of bandwidth and what isn't, why not trash fan sites which all have the same news and pictures anyway or all the porn sites that litter the net. Oh i'm sorry, i forgot, porn is essential right?

Personally, I love blogger and there are some damn fine sites out there that feel the same way.
posted by Mllebleu at 7:44 AM on January 18, 2001

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