January 11, 2007
Thank God Bush is Addressing the Nation Tonight
Now there's ample time to blog.

Before I get started with the real-life accounts, let me just ask: has anyone else noticed that House has gotten way preachy as of late? Wait, is that libel? Slander? Slaughter? It can't be all of the above.

Anyhoo, so I've already told you that I attended the Washington Post DC Blogger Summit this week. Sadly, despite the weight that the word summit would seem to carry, the meetup was held in NW Washington rather than Reykjavik and no one with a full-on cranial birthmark seemed to be in attendance. As far as I knew. Given that HB and I arrived late, due to some Kris health malfunctioning that shall remain descriptionless and Flickrless, we were forced to sit in the front, courtesy of 4/5 of the room grabbing the back chairs closest to the chocolate-covered strawberries and the open Pepsi bar. You know who you are.

It felt nice to be there. It was rewarding to feel that these real life journalists wanted to hear what I, blogger extraordinaire who somehow made it onto a few dozen blogrolls, had to say. Of course, given said health discomfort and the fact everyone else in the room sounded as if they had studied at Oxford either this week or last, I remained mute and instead resorted to writing notes to HB 7th-grade style. At least I didn't steal all the extra blogger notepads from the empty seats. Ahem.

The Washington Post folks were great listeners. And have a genuine interest in how a reciprocal relationship between their online paper and the local DC blogosphere - not just those with a journalist bent - might develop. They want to increase our readership. Profile us. Put us out there in a forum to which few of us would have been exposed. Kinda cool, party people. Very cool.

I left this meeting as I do almost every other blog gathering (not drunk, you asshats, this was a school night): disappointed at the minimal role that personal blogs clearly play in the serious blogosphere.

Please. I have no illusions that I will ever make money off of this blog, or that I'll be discovered by the Simon Cowell of publishing and be whisked away from a life of research to days of stay-at-home feline-ing. But I think the distinction between the serious blogosphere and the writing that just isn't is a pretty apparent one, even though we don't speak it above a whisper at parties. Do you post? Regularly? Expect people to read you? Spend more than a few minutes of your day on your writing and commenting, refuse to push street-quality Xanax on people via robot spam, and confess to at least once dumping a post as it wasn't quite what you wanted to say? Don't tell me you haven't written something down so you wouldn't forget to blog about it in the morning. I can see your lies.

Fact Perception is, blogs about you just are not as important to the serious online world as any number of other sites are. Political blogs, food blogs, parenting blogs, entertainment sites, relationship blogs, neighborhood and community sites, et cetera and et al and ergo. I just want to pop a gasket that decent writing about the ongoing status of the construction on Route 1 seems to have more credibility than every one of the excellent blogs about LIFE that I consume obsessively every day. Yes, it may be about what she ate for breakfast. But rather than it being a dry statement about an even drier cereal, it's a post about how she pilfered Froot Loops from a suitemate's care package or an entry detailing how a childhood sans sugared cereal has produced an adult for whom Frosted Flakes constitute a bona fide food group.

Why does that not seem to matter as much? And when it does, that it isn't just good enough on its own; instead, we have to move it from personal to eight other categories that may describe it (i.e., Southwest DC resident, foodie, mommy, ancient car driver, Republican, divorcee, sports fanatic and bookworm). Why can't her writing not just stay in LIFE?

Interestingly, I'm not sure this holds true in the hard-copy publishing world, as the memoir (is there a closer, more comparable example?) seems to stand as one of the more rich and revered writing genres. I know I'd choose a well-written autobiography over a strictly tech, political, gaming, crafting, religious, cooking or window blind site any day of the week. But that may just be me.


48 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must admit that you were not the only note writer Tuesday night, though if it makes you feel better I'll pre-prepare a note to give to you the next time our paths cross.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The difficulty of categorizing makes this "genre" a tough one. Our blogs (because Oooooo yeah I'm there with you) are really navel gazing + insight = sometimes hilarious. Not really newsy or informative. More . . . pleasurable. This is why I read the comics first in the paper, for what it's worth. We need to carve out more places for pleasure. The Post just isn't there yet.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Genre shmanra. Look, writers write. Good writers write constantly...this is just an outlet for creativity. I love writing, but am only really good at reaponding. I am shit when I have to write myself and put myself out there. You should write about breakfast, toilet trips and other banality because you obviously have an audience that loves to read about that stuff (weirdly enough).

Blogger Kris said...

I agree with you Meg -- what's interesting is that I didn't get this feeling from the Post people necessarily, but also the room, if that makes sense. It's just an underlying feeling I have -- nothing outward or intentional on anyone's part.

Blogger Carrie M said...

'big things' aren't usually reported on until they blow up - look at designsponge, beautyaddict, and the other sites that are one person's shopping recommendations to the world. i heard a post ad on the radio today about bloggers making money off their sites. so people who previously had no clue about them are catching on.

what's my point? that i think it's only a matter of time when the personal blogs get more credibility. they already are consumed voraciously by the likes of you, me, and all of our collective blogger friends. it's a more detailed kind of post secret, except people do actually get to meet us. i've found that i really enjoy reading what other people have to say about their lives b/c it doesn't make me feel so alone, or i learn something like i have the last couple of days with my posts and comments from folks.

jebus, sorry to be so long. i really do think the personal blogs will come into their own. and don't forget - you are part of that movement by spearheading indie bloggers!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know what? The personal blogs I read, for the most part, have better writing than almost anything else out there (sadly, sometimes even published works). It pains me that some talented and clever people do not get their due.

And don't be hatin' on my Gators, girl. They EARNED that. ;P

-Megan

Blogger Kris said...

Sorry, Meg; you know that's how we Noles roll. I did think it was a fabu game, however. I'll give 'em that. ;)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am with you, Kris: personal or “life” blogs are severely underestimated.

I think you point out something important when you say that a post about morning cereal often isn't just about morning cereal. Indeed, most personal blogs are not journals; they represent a form of (auto-)fiction. In this regard, I think we should rename the “life” category and call it something else, like the “daily screenwriter” category!

Anonymous Michele said...

I am described as a "Mommy Blogger" since I have two toddlers and they do show up in the blog. But I dont think of myself as a "Mommy Blogger" anymore than I think of myself as a "Food Blogger" because I also talk about food and am a great cook, nor do I think of myself as a "Feminist Blogger" because I like working, I make three times what my husband does and we split all household duties right down the middle.

Square peg, round hole. Love your blog. Love it.

Blogger Kim said...

This post was too long. More than 3 paragraphs? I can't read it.

Just tell me, did you sleep with someone who promised you increased site stats? You know you would.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like what you had to say on this, Kris.

Like Carrie M. said - personal blogs help us out just as much as expert articles would. They provide us with support, sometimes, by letting us know we aren't alone.

And, well, a little insight into someone's word via the Internets is better than a window, right?

It's a relief to know that there is real life out there. Sometimes funny, sometimes boring. But real.

Anonymous Evil Genius said...

Excellent post! And I'm so with you on this. I'm all about the real, baby. Maybe it is the pleasure factor, that we just need to have more of an outlet for our pleasure centers to read just for the sake of pleasure. I don't know. But I know I'll never blog because I'm trying to make it into a "something". It is what it is and that's all it's ever going to be.

Blogger Kris said...

Loving all of your awesome comments. I'm still waiting for some hate spam. Then again, maybe that's what yours was, Kim.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

But isn't that what you are doing with Indie Blogger (which by the way I LOVE and have found the MOST interesting blogs EV-AH!)?

Anonymous maliavale said...

I love the comparison to the book publishing world -- point well-taken.

Incidentally (which is, incidentally, one of my fave words to use this week), did they tell you that the ultimate defense against libel is truth? If something is completely true, you're in the clear. And opinion is also a defense -- the opinion just has to fall in the "can't prove it, therefore it's an opinion" category.

Blogger Amber said...

Wait. A blog about me is not as important to the rest of the world as blogs about current events? Humph. Maybe this is a world I don't want to live in. They'd be sorry then. Or not.

In all seriousness, this is why I have a journalism degree and don't work in that field. Good writing is just that, whether it be about "important" world events or "insignificant" personal events.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think personal blogging is best served up on a personal level. I'm a little afraid that if it went "mainstream" it would lose some of the charm that draws me in. The blogs I read are written by people who use writing as a way to process life - and some of the best don't have huge readerships necessarily, but are a collection of people who've stumbled upon each other and found some common ground - and in some ways replace a bit of the community that seems to be breaking down in every day life. I wonder if that might be lost if the genre, as a whole, changed?

Great thoughts on this - it's fun to see some of them play out by way of Indiebloggers as well :)

Blogger Kris said...

Very interesting point. There is something to being a part of a closer-knit community.

I'm also wondering if, today, a personal blogger broke through into the ranks of the paid or otherwise appreciated, if there would be a backlash. Stephanie Klein's site comes to mind; when she and This Fish got to be more popular there was a good bit of resentment from the blogosphere.

Anonymous bloggadocio said...

that's why i love the WashPo -- always open to hearing public opinion. Katherine Graham would be proud.

Was Carolyn Hax there? I heart her.

Blogger Rothko said...

"I know I'd choose a well-written autobiography over a strictly tech, political, gaming, crafting, religious, cooking or window blind site any day of the week. But that may just be me."

Nope. I'm with you. Good post.

I also like Mood Indigo's comments on blogs as a way of replacing community. Right on.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm just glad your anti-Florida sentiments were directed at the Gators football team, and not that nice old lady from Good Times.

Oh, and you're a better writer than most "professionals" I read on the interweb. That's gotta count for something.

Blogger Kris said...

No Hax, PLD. She would have run screaming had I seen her; I'm quite sure it would have taken me 12-13 hours to fill her in on all of my relationship and family sagas . . .

R&J - thanks for your thoughts - and kind words . . . good times, indeed . . . ;)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wrote a long, philosophical comment this morning about how personal blogs are like 18th century letter-writing and how historians will be reading your blog hundreds of years from now. But then I clicked and my comment disappeared. So now I'm thinking that you might want to print out and laminate your blog for posterity sake because Blogger is not going to stand the test of time.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

After working, paying the bills, worrying about kids, getting the oil changed on the car, etc, etc, etc, the LAST thing I want to do is look at a blog that will teach me the nutritional value of a fruit roll-up. I want to relax, unwind & laugh. I love your blog & it kinda inspired me to do the same. It's theraputic if nothing else.

Anonymous deana said...

I am delurking just to say that I really enjoy reading your blog. It is like reading a witty novel but it's live so you never have that moment of disappointment when you finish the last page. Plus it has expanded my vocabulary - now I get to call people asshats all the time.

Anonymous Neil said...

The only reason the Post is sucking up to bloggers is that they are afraid... afraid that people are going to get their news from bloggers rather than buy the newspaper. Unfortunately, they are not afraid of bloggers like us, since our comic rantings is not what the Washington Post is all about. But maybe we can all get together, like you are doing on the Indieblogger site, and make the producers of "Two and a Half Men" feel insecure. They are more likely to throw a summit for us than some stuffy newspaper. Who wants to see those old sitcom gags when you can read it on a blog?

Anonymous Jorge said...

The problem is that most people take themselves too seriously. They think that they need a cause to write about so that others will listen.

You, my dear, are wonderful. You write about you. What topic could you possibly know more about? I daresay not stamp collecting! Not Manifolds! Not transsexual nazi eskimos. Nay. You write about Mama.

And that's great.

No pretention.
Just substance.

And cat hair.

Anonymous Elizabeth said...

I am thinking that you aren't giving credit where credit is due. I have a feeling you have no idea how many people are reading what you write and are coming away with so much. I am not a writer (I paint) and therefore do not feel comfortable leaving comments here. I don't have anything witty or interesting to say. I get you. I get what you have to say. You write the things that I feel and you do it oh so well. You make me laugh...OUT LOUD. Don't forget about all of us quiet ones that don't profess our love of your blog to you. Don't forget about the people that feel a connection to you because your life is so parallel to ours. I am pretty sure that is not even what you were really getting at as I have had a bit too much wine tonight. Thanks to my book club...ummmm, I mean "wine club." I guess I just wanted to stand up and say that I love your blog and I love your writing. If you wrote a book I would buy it. Thanks for entertaning me.

Blogger Lena said...

You speak the truth Kris. Whenever I entitle a post with the word "personal" watch the click- throughs go through the roof.

People are voyeuristic by nature. We compare. We measure. We eavesdrop. We judge. Don't let them tell you any different.

Blogger Kris said...

Per usual, I love your insightful comments. I LOVE that you take the time to come here and read what I have to say, regardless of whether or not you leave a stamp that you've been here (although being the professed professional comment whore that I am, it's ALWAYS nice ;).

My frustration comes from the fact that I know that people so enjoy our "genre" but that it doesn't get any play. It's the feeling I had when Arrested Development got canceled. You mean this can't make it - no one watches this brilliance - but Deal or No Deal, or Cops! or effing FEAR FACTOR gets tops ratings?!? Ugh.

Hope that has some semblance of sense. Still hatching.

Blogger Kris said...

Actually, that was kind of a different point. But there it is anyhow.

Ooooooooooohkay.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm guessing that at least one note that you passed to HB consisted of "Do you Like Me or Do You Like Me Like Me? Please check box below."

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. This was fantastic. (Hi, by the way!) I completely agree with you about the perception of personal blogs v. "serious" sites. For me, it is, quite simply, about GOOD writing. Someone could, as you pointed out, write about something as (technically) banal cereal, but done right, make it hysterical, insightful, and above all, eminently readable. And more often than not, in my experience, the good and addictive writing is in fact found on the personal blogs, not the big ones.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kris, I heart...no love...your blog!!!

Your writing is witty and fantastic and I have enjoyed spending all this week catching up on your archives. Are you sure you aren't my long lost sister??

Blogger Egan said...

Amen in Kris. This is why I keep you on my blogroll. I may switch others around often to tug at their heartstrings, but you are a keeper.

Blogs don't have to have a purpose or aim the way I see it. It's simply about sharing your world with others.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or, if you really want to sleep...come visit me.

Wish I were there to witness, Kris. Right on, lady.

Anonymous zandria said...

Excellent points, Kris. Personal blogging doesn't get the recognition that it deserves. I wish I had been able to attend that meeting -- it sounds really interesting! I hope you'll be talking more about it if there are any good opportunities that come up. :)

Blogger Washington Cube said...

I lost ten pounds reading these comments.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personal blogs are such a remarkable window into people's lives. And I think that in a society where people feel increasingly isolated, I'm going to bet that personal blogs will become more and more popular. People like reading about personal things they can identify with.

Anonymous amy said...

You can be sued for libel? By a mere references to cats and Tai Shan. Dammit! There goes my next blog post.

I think Life Blogging is really about living out loud, writing your truth, making human connections, and finding your way, one word at a time.

My husband just thinks we're all ass crazy. ......but then, he's former CIA. And I can't talk about that. Apparently, it's...libelous?

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Blogger JMai said...

Serious blogs are boring. Your blog rocks. Nuff said.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this is the best blog post I have ever read. I agree on all points.
Btw, I love your blog! I agree totally with jmai. : ]

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I personally tend to shy away from the blogs that have a definitive category ie: politics, news, consumer product reviews, etc. etc.

I much prefer the more eclectic blogs that throw in a little bit of everything along with some personal wit. Those are the blogs that keep the blogging world interesting.

I've tried reading blogs that are designated to one topic in particular and I find them quite boring.

So anyway...that's my take on it.
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