Same As It Ever Was
I just visited the blog of rock singer and Renaissance Man Mr David Byrne (because I think he is an interesting person, and has insightful opinions) and had a bit of a revelation. Mr Byrne has a blog, is an interesting person and has insightful opinions, but he just doesn't get the concept of blogging. Oh, I know, the headline says "Don't Call It a Blog" but I'm sorry Mr Byrne, calling it a 'Journal' is just attempting to weasel out of being lumped in with the hoi polloi - it's a blog by any other name.
Except for one significant difference. At first glance it looks like pretty much any other blog you might stumble across in your explorations of the blogosphere. But hey, what's this? He doesn't allow readers to comment on his posts!
Let's think about that for a moment. The nature of a blog is at least slightly interactive. You post a thought, people read it, and if they feel like it, they leave a pearl of wisdom or a few pellets of scat. They leave their alias, which is a link that can be followed back to their own blog so that you, in turn, can read and comment upon their pontifications. They mark their territory in the blogosphere. These are the basic rules that any blogger knows. Disallowing any comment on your pronouncements is the blogging equivalent of hanging out a sign that says "No Riff Raff".
I was reading down Mr Byrne's latest post when I noticed the absence of a Comments field and I had the eerie and almost corporeal feeling of a door being slammed in my face. I had to stop and think about why I felt so put out. I didn't even intend to post a comment.
What I believe has happened is that Mr Byrne has failed to understand the concept of community that blogging, by tacit agreement, encompasses. There're no rules, of course, you can do anything you want on the net, but there are understandings in the cyberworld, just as in RL you understand that it's bad manners to fart in an elevator or park in the disabled bay at the supermarket.
When I realised that Mr Byrne did not care about my, or any other reader's, opinion, I completely lost interest in what he had to say. If I want that kind of experience, I have many books to choose from.
By contrast, Mr David Brin, a person who is at least as erudite and well known as Mr Byrne, has a blog where he makes commentary on all manner of worthy subjects, and cultivates a thriving culture of opinion, humour and insight. Mr Brin also participates in the comments from time to time, making his blog not only entertaining and informative, but a kind of living dialogue. I believe that this is what blogging is about.
Mr Byrne may indeed have many profound and wonderful things to say, but in my opinion he suffers from an excess of hubris. We are no longer living in the world where a Creative Person speaks, and the Great Unwashed throw flowers in obeisence. A Lofty 'Journal' he may have, but he lives in poverty without a blog.
UPDATE: Neil Gaiman's doing it too. C'mon chaps, you look like pretentious prats. Tsk.