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February 15, 2005

Bloggers & The Day Job

Mike Peska put together a snarky commentary on blogs and bloggers this morning on the air. The nice mischaracterization he makes is the distinction implied between bloggers and people with day jobs.

The best bloggers blog their day jobs. But beyond that, the blogosphere as a group have a good excuse not to watch television. We're generally critical of the MSM. According to AC Nielsen, the average American watches 3.75 hours of television per day. Speaking for myself, I watch about 2, and since I use Tivo it's on my schedule. I also listen to about 90 minutes of NPR on a daily basis, all in the car. Since I sleep only about 7 hours a day and generally work about 30 hours a week (self-employed, you know) I get a lot of time to blog. But simply halving your television watching and turning it into blogtime is plenty time.

I'd also argue that the best bloggers are fairly voracious readers, and that makes all the difference. I've got Yahoo tracking headlines for about 12 different RSS feeds, and Blogrolling lets me know who has got something new to say. I've got 12 news sources, including Google News - an aggragation itself, that tab out in Firefox which I periodically check.

My point is that a significant portion of the blogosphere represents a flight to quality. Journalists themselves have been a large part of online communities since the dawn of Internet time, notably at the Well. If large names in the journalism community are fearful of large names where blogging meets journalism then this is only noticeable because, well journalists get a lot of attention. But among the top blogs are attorneys and economists as well, and the blogosphere's appeal comes not only because of any opposition or even conflict with the profession of journalism itself, but simply because a large number of intelligent people enjoy communicating with other intelligent people.

In the opening few minutes of Peska's piece, a reference was made to the effect that a relatively small number of people read blogs, as compared to the mainstream media. Well, a relatively small number of people read the New England Journal of Medicine too, or the Economist for that matter. That demographic is smack dab in the core of the blogosphere. All one needs to do is eyeball the blogroll of popular sites like Crooked Timber and you get an idea of the people we are dealing with. Sure there will be great swells of blog traffic when issues like Plame, or Nick Berg videos hit, but on a daily basis a lot of us are pretty damned serious.

If mainstream journalists have a bit of a yellow streak about them, it must surely be that in the blogosphere full-time geeks have more than five minutes of fame bracketed by anchor banter. The audience here actually does spend the time and wants the gritty technical details of the sort which are almost never aired or printed.

What they really have to worry about is that such geeks may be soon be overlapping with those sources they are so eager to protect. Imagine a world where whistleblowers decide to self-publish to the blogosphere rather than to big news organizations.

Posted by mbowen at February 15, 2005 12:18 PM

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My heavens Cobb, how do you do it? I don't watch any TV and I still don't blog one tenth as much as you. And you have better things to say! OK, I spend too much time playing games. Sigh. Trade-off: more blogging = less gaming (World of Warcraft btw).

Posted by: Rakhier at February 17, 2005 12:40 PM

I've been avoiding PC games for that very reason. I used to play Rise of Nations and MS Flight Simulator, but I started getting sores on my butt from not moving. So I stick with console games. Variety is a different screen.

BTW, I type about 50-60 WPM. That makes a big difference.

Posted by: Cobb at February 17, 2005 04:17 PM