Nick Carr is right — sort of

As a blogger, I naturally feel compelled to add my two cents (1.8 cents U.S.) to the blogosphere pile-up over Nick Carr’s comments on A-listers and the “innocent fraud” that blog proponents purportedly promulgate — that fraud being the idea that anyone can join the conversation, that there are no barriers to entry, that quality trumps relationships or marketing, etc. To that extent, blogging often seems to consist of bloggers blogging about other bloggers blogging (is is just me, or is there an echo in here?). Call it meta-blogging.

So why do we do it — is it because we love to write, love to think, love to have debates, like to get attention, want to get linked to on Techmeme, or to boost our Technorati rankings, or to get comments and links from other bloggers we respect and/or admire and/or envy? Yes. And to sell our books or get more speaking gigs or get invited to one of Mike’s parties, and so on. I think it’s a mistake to assume that any blogger (Nick included) is fueled by one specific desire or impulse. I would expect the vast majority are motivated by at least a half dozen, some of which may even be in direct conflict with each other. That’s just the way human beings are.

To that extent, I think my M-lister friend Kent Newsome is right when he compares blogging to songwriting, and I think my old-media pal Scott Karp is also right when he compares it to screenplays or manuscripts (incidentally, I notice that hardly anyone has made note of the fact that Kent is the one who got this debate started, which I think is at least a partial refutation of the “innocent fraud” argument). And yes, Rex Hammock is also kind of right when he compares Nick to a troll.

People write screenplays and poems and songs (and paint and draw and sculpt) because they feel compelled to do so, because they believe they have something to say, because they want attention, because they want to make money, or all of the above. They may write one thing for money and another for love, and another for attention. And why do we pay attention to them? In some cases it’s because they shock, or titillate, or because they express something unique, or because they are very good at what they do — or all of the above.

I will note one thing, as I mentioned on Scott’s blog: Nick has responded to many of the people who commented on his post, but he hasn’t answered the question I posted there, which was “Why do you blog, Nick?” I’d be interested in hearing what Nick came up with for an answer, but I suspect it is “all of the above.”

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About mathewi

I'm the chief digital writer at the Columbia Journalism Review in New York, and a former writer for Fortune magazine and the Globe and Mail newspaper.

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