Where was I?

I could say I was busy with the holiday season, but that, while true, wasn’t what created the intertube respite.

More I was thinking about blogging, thanks in no small part to reader PK who while encouraging me suggested there could be more non-actuarial posts “here and there.”

It was a good point, and it reminded me of what made blogs such fun reading in their early days (10 years ago!). They were riffing off the news, but they also had personalities. The early bloggers were akin to the “personal journalism” of Horace Greeley and others in the early Penny Press days of the modern newspaper, 175 years ago.

I’ve bored my wife with the comparison many times. Now it’s your turn.

Both blogs and the Penny Press were full of information, but they were idiosyncratic. One day you might read a tightly reasoned examination of an important issue, like emancipation (way back then) or the Bush tax cuts. The next you might read how shoes are too tight. Or how a cat was snuggling next to a keyboard. They were informative, but they were also interesting – like sharing a cup with a well-spoken, wise friend who could toss off a good bon mot.

But it’s a burnout gig, especially these days. The top sites post six to 11 times a day. Money’s driving that bus. To blog for a living (I get $0, but that was never my intent.), you have to attract viewers. The more posts, the more viewers. And the content has to be fresh, to keep the eyeballs rolling in.

But it’s the rare blabbermouth who can keep up the grind while remaining convivial. (Kevin Drum is one of the few who has kept it up.) Even a couple posts a week can wear you down. Most blogs are community affairs now – one person acting as the face and voice, while a half-dozen hamsters spin away in the background. Andrew Sullivan probably does that best, but I shy away from his blog – who can keep up with that volume?

RSS-type feeds haven’t helped. (These feeds collect all the posts of your favorite blogs onto a single page. Google Reader may be the best-known.) All your favs are in one place, which seems a godsend. But if you’re busy for a couple days, or a week, you fall behind. And the feed will quietly remind you that you have, say, 689 unread posts piling up, like unread newspapers.

Scrolling the RSS feed is hardly fun. The words can be interesting, but reading blogs was also fun because each blog had its own layout as well as its own personality. In the early days, they were garish and ugly. Now blog designs are handsome – but I never see them. I’m trapped in the feed. And scrolling the feed can be gray, gray, trudging-to-a-Soviet-factory gray.

So I wasn’t blogging. But I was thinking. I’ve always known how busy you the reader are and tried to make the blog a place to catch up quickly on actuarial stuff. But I don’t think I can do that well without having some fun and being fun (or trying to be).

Let’s see how it goes.

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2 thoughts on “Where was I?

  1. Claude Penland says:

    You do a great job, Jim.

  2. Bo says:

    I find your blog both informational and fun. You’ve got a talent for communicating complex ideas. keep it up!

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