Arguments against blogging

Suppose there were a fellow with a passion for writing poetry, but let’s say he didn’t want to expend his effort in the mundane business of getting a publisher to accept his works.  Still, he wished to share his creations with the world, so he took to scrawling poems on the walls in men’s public restrooms.  Let his poems speak for themselves; why should anyone care about the venue?  The trouble with this strategy is that reading time is a scarce resource for all of us, so we need some pretty crude filters to eliminate lots of possible reading material and bring the serious candidates to a manageable number.  One thing we do is pay attention to signals that the author himself was willing to invest in making his work be regarded as high-quality.

What’s the point of scientific peer review?  It certainly doesn’t guarantee that published papers are valid and original science.  It does guarantee that the authors were willing to expend a great deal of time and trouble (and perhaps money) to give their paper the appearance of valid and original science, and there is a loose but positive correlation between this and actually being good science.

The same thing with publishing vs. personal blogging.  Posting an article on my private blog is so much easier than trying to get a magazine to publish it, and this very easiness is a reason why readers should be a bit warier of investing their time; they know the author didn’t.


If you’re going to blog, more likely than not, you’re going to be withholding your personal identity.  There are lots of reasons we do this, but one obvious one is to avoid all the unpleasant consequences, social and career-wise, that come with voicing unpopular opinions.  Pseudonymity works, not because we’re impossible to track down, but because chances are you’re remain obscure enough that no one will feel motivated to do so.  There remains a downside.  Blogging as a hobby leaves you with a boring “secret identity”.  I’m sometimes jealous of the other professors in my department who have cool hobbies.  One is in a band.  Another wrote a novel.  Others play sports.  Blogging is not a cool hobby even when you can admit to doing it; there’s no skill involved.  But when you can’t admit to doing it, then you don’t have any answer when people ask you what you do with your spare time.  So, you need a second hobby.  (Any recommendations for me?)  So why keep the secret one?


There’s a problem:  blogging builds no skill.  It’s too private.  For example, has my writing style improved since my first essay?  How could it?  I haven’t had anyone critiquing my prose.  It has had no public confrontation that could result in failure.  Unimpressed readers usually don’t bother commenting.  Living in my own little world here, I’m free to imagine that all my essays are perfect.  If I had to submit my writings for a grade in a college rhetoric class, that would take a lot of the fun out of it, but I’m not sure that my disdain for such a thing is healthy.


The argument for blogging, I suppose, is that if I didn’t unburden myself of my opinions somewhere, I might end up popping off and inflicting them on people who would rather not hear or would not be inclined to let me get away with such opinions.


A blogger should overall spend more time reading and thinking than writing.  I’ve had little time to read for the last half decade, and I think it shows in my writing getting less interesting with time.


Faith: another category to be vindicated

My new post at the Orthosphere:  Faith is honesty in doubt