Do you read Blogs?Posted: March 17, 2011
Do you read blogs? Yeah, I know, a stupid question. Obviously, if you are reading THIS you probably* have read at least one blog at least once in your life (this one), but the topic seems to come up perennially (like crab grass) on discussion boards like Dragonsfoot (i.e.: this conversation here). And, from having read more than one of these discussions on DF, I get the feeling that a sizeable number** of people who might identify themselves as ‘players of “old skoole games” (whatever that might be)’ seem actually somewhat hostile to the idea of old skoole bloggers writing old skoole blogs. I didn’t start blogging until I got rather disenchanted by the ‘discussion forum’ scene. I still visit the forums (but not as much as when I had a really boring job at a desk that required I sit and wait for long periods of time until someone wanted something from me). I’ve been reading both blogs and Dragonsfoot for a while now (I don’t really visit many forums at all), and, given how much overlap there is between the two communities in both membership and interest, I find the hostility surprising.
And I suppose I count myself as an ‘old skoole blogger’ or a member of the OSR, even though I am not always certain what those terms mean to others. Then again, as a general practice I don’t think I can help what other people think… I can try to influence what they think, but as many ‘discussions on the internet’ seem to indicate, nothing on the internet seems as cherished as an opinion that someone else has disagreed with.
The argument against ‘blogging’ that seems to get raised again and again and again is that a) blogs are undemocratic and b) blogs are narcissistic.
In theory, I can see the point in the argument that “blogs are undemocratic because the blog owner is always in charge and can delete any of my comments and that seems unfair… plus I can’t start threads on your blog…” In practice, however, I’ve developed a very low tolerance for what some people consider a ‘contribution’ to a forum discussion and sometimes wish boards like Dragonsfoot would police their forums with a heavier hand (yeah, I know the irony of ME saying that) simply because there are (in my opinion), too many Dragonsfoot members who post what I consider ‘garbage.’ ‘Garbage’ (in my opinion) would include unnecessarily argumentative posts and replies (especially the ones where the responder offers a point-by-point refutation with quotes as to why the previous poster is an idiot), trolling (in all of its forms) and the dreaded self appointed ‘guardian of the board’ (who want to spend a great deal of time smacking down other members out of some sort of sense of ‘ownership’ of the forum because they spend a great deal of time there). All that ‘garbage’ makes wading and sorting through the trash in search of treasure all the more irritating. I actually like the ‘tighter focus’ that blogs engender simply because the democracy seems inherent in the medium because if I don’t like what you are saying on your blog, I can search out another blog I like better (or, even better, I can start my own). Taken singly, perhaps “blogs” do not seem democratic, but, viewed as a whole, they are perhaps MORE democratic because individual owners seem to be more more committed to making their blogs interesting and useful (perhaps because as bloggers we feel more of a sense of ownership of our own blogs). Perhaps blogs that are uninteresting to me just slide off my radar, whereas in a forum, I am continually having to ignore posts from some members. Everyone may have an opinion, and everyone may feel that they have the right to that opinion, but nothing says that I have to spend my time enduring them expressing that opinion.
We’ve had the conversation on DF about blogs where anti-blogites cite the inherent ‘egotism’ of the blog medium as a bad thing. I think the ‘egotism’ of blogs is not a bad thing; it MAY be a good thing. I read (or look at (because some of the blogs I follow are more pictures than words)) the blogs on my list because I find myself interested in what that person might have to say or show. If I’m not interested in what a blogger has to say, I don’t have to follow his blog.
on DF, Premier wrote:
What about ‘Content’ blogs as opposed to ‘Opinion’
ones? You know, stuff life Ancient Vaults & Eldritch Secrets, all about
posting new monsters, spells, items and stuff. Do people read those, and why/why
I read both… I read all kinds of blogs. My favorites are the art blogs where people post pictures they have been working on (like Russ Nicholson) or pictures they think are interesting (like http://monsterbrains.blogspot.com/)… or some have ‘catch all’ blogs where people post whatever they want. In my own blog, I dump everything in the same place — art, politics, game ideas, etc (which may or may not be a good idea).
I actually think blogs have the possibility of being less narcissistic (I know that sounds counter-intuitive) than frequent posts on forums simply because the blogger usually invests a little more time and effort into putting the blog together. In many ways, as a reader of blogs I often find a new set of pictures on a blog like ‘monsterbrains’ (pictures of old magazine covers, comic books, etc., with monsters) or on Russ Nicolson’s blog to kind of feel like a treat for me since I usually enjoy what they put up and I might have never seen these images or read these words otherwise. When forum posts are good, they are a joy to read, but too often I have to wade through garbage posts and dickwagging to find my way to the good stuff. Reading yet another flame war on why the way so-an-so does initiative in AD&D is wrong-wrong-wrong (to name just one example) feels like more of an encounter with the narcissim of the participants than seeing some art or ideas for a campaign or someone’s musings on D&D in general (or so many other topics). I’m sure there are shitty, narcissistic blogs, but I don’t tend to read those… just like I skip a lot of posts and threads in the forums I visit.
*Before the pedants point out that someone could read these words elsewhere (like on a web aggregator or as a paper print out) and thus never direct their browser to a ‘blog’ and thus never actually READ a blog, I did say ‘probably,’ OK?
**I have no idea of the actual numbers but suspect it is a small yet determined bunch on Dragonsfoot. The disposition of “anti-OSR blog people” elsewhere is unknown to me.