Saturday, February 21, 2004

I guess I'm just a born rule-breaker ...

A blogger, er, I mean a journalist or writer (she's really picky about terminology) named Jen Chung, who writes a blog (or whatever the hell she wants to call it) called Gothamist, published some rules for "What Not to Do When You Blog." I've broken every one of them. Oh well, too late to straighten up and fly right now. Hell, I didn't even know there were rules when I started this thing. Now I'm wondering if the weblog police--with Gothamist on point--are going to come hacking through my door to yank out my DSL for violations.

Seems I went astray from the get-go: you're not supposed to call it a "blog" unless you understand what the word "blog" means. Silly goose that I am, I though it was just short for "weblog," and I thought that a weblog was just a sort of journal of whatever sort one kept on the web. But no, "blogs are made up of posts that have 'links + commentary.' Commentary, not Joyce-ian stream-of-consciousness. They can be personal, but more in terms of point of view, versus a webcam of yourself." Apparently veteran bloggers like Gothamist, like long-time residents of a neighborhood that has recently become trendy, now feel the need to distance themselves from the newbies, or as Gothamist puts it, "16 year old girls, writing in bad grammar on LiveJournal."

Her next rule is: "for the love of God, do not write about yourself." Oh please. I guess we're all supposed to be hip, "cool link of the day" type bloggers who toss in a link to the same Slate article 500 other bloggers, er, I mean journalists, are linking to, rip off a sentence or two trying to demonstrate how witty and above-it-all we are and then call it a day. That's boring. I happen to like reading blogs where people write about their lives, linking to interesting things where relevant. OK, you can spare us what you ate for every meal, unless it was a particularly good or interesting meal, or your blog happens to be all about food (there's a guy in Italy who posts a photo of every pasta meal he eats). Gothamist assumes that everyone who keeps a weblog is trying to become famous through it the way she is. If that's your objective, then sure, follow her rules (and be sure to post links urging your readers to vote for you in the Bloggies). But if your objective is to amuse yourself and maybe a handful of readers, I say do your own thing.

She does make the point that you shouldn't write about your pets, which reminds me: I've written a bit about my dogs, but nothing about my cats. That's hardly fair. I'll have to rectify that soon ...

Anyway, the rest of the rules are fairly sensible to me: make an effort to update regularly, don't libel folks, etc. But by the time I got to them I was rolling my eyes and feeling like a rebel. And I think you should too, in fact, I'm going to make that rule number one in my upcoming "Rules for Readers of A Complete Bunch of Pants."

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