The Fat Guy posts about paid blogging, and Whether Blogging Has Been Berry Berry Good for Him. I went over the 2500 character limit of his commenting system, so I post the comments here instead.
Re: "I know in my gut that [blogging has] hurt my reading skills...I expect everything I read to be packaged up nicely in one or two paragraphs with pithy and/or snarky comments."
I see that in myself, and in others. To wit, more than once I've commented on other people's blogs after just skimming, without having fully read the post upon which I am commenting. I miss who wrote the post, in the case of a team blog, or the appearance of one idea that I, helpfully or so I think, add to the thread. Only to check back days later to find that, e.g. Woundwort wrote that post and not Bigwig, or Matthew Edgar already acknowledged he's a Deist.
That bothers me. Am I that inattentive in real life?
My own response to that:
- hesitate on the Submit Comment key, but comment everywhere I go. I wish half of my posts on my blog were as brilliant and thoughtful as this comment here today.
- read more widely, different blogs, instead of falling into the rut of Instapundit, Vodkapundit, Volokh, Instapundit, Vodkapundit, Volokh, DenBeste ... I'll never make their blogrolls anyway.
- open my own blog to comments.
- read all the comments, both on my own blog and everywhere that I post comments. I especially like commenting systems that scroll the post itself along with the comments.
- read something other than blogs, i.e. have a life to blog about. I won't give up ink-on-paper.
And like you, I don't read "the stuff being commentaried on" (unless I suspect the blogger's interpretation). Why bother? I don't necessarily want to know who's being hacked by the RIAA, for example, I want to know whether it's likely to happen to me, and who I need to talk to, or give money to, or vote for/against, to keep it from happening to me. Blog content is partially-digested news, news I have an idea what to do with.
And I think there's a trend growing in the Blogosphere, as the truly talented bloggers build brand recognition and market share, they start getting too much mail to respond to it all and picking to which mail they'll reply or post about, much more carefully than in the humble beginnings. They've started turning inward, to each other.
They will become the Establishment, The Big Wheels as the Fat Guy called them, instead of the Young Turks, the Outside Looking In. They will slowly cut themselves off from the flow of esoteric/unusual incoming content that gave them their starts as bloggers. Content that they don't read is content they don't post, which is content that We Wonder What They Did Withtm when we hear about it from another source, instead of from them.
What they will have left is their subject matter expertise, and their point-of-view, which for most of them is enough to keep blogging, but not enough to promote new readership of the kind that made these überbloggers famous. What was new will be made old. It's an inevitable, natural process.
Going to paid blogging? As much as I wish them well, I think good, memorable blogging depends too heavily on dialog with readers and other bloggers, hitchhiking on their ideas or proving they're full of shit, or anywhere in between. Any limit or hurdle to readership is a limit to incoming content that blogs depend upon. Blogging isn't a source of content, it's more like a brokerage---or a flea market.
What I find more exciting are proposals (Like NZ Bear's BlogMD initiative) for metacontent mapping
systems. I'd maybe pay for one that allows me to query the whole Blogosphere about a given topic ("Who's writing about Army suspicions that anti-malarial meds are a factor in the murder-suicides in Ft Bragg?") instead of trying to Google it. The blogs and bloggers who want to be read will adopt these meta tagging conventions, because those who have adopted them will be read, commented, and quoted more often than those who do not, caeteris paribus.
In this post, I've far exceeded my quota of sentences ended by prepositions. Sorry, Mrs. McGill; sorry, Mr. Gigliotti.