Why Sheri Graner Ray Should Blog
Disrupting Immersion

Rebuttal: Resist Assimilation!

Having abominable internet connectivity issues right now, so blogging is disrupted. Thought I'd bounce this comment from Ernest up to top level, since it's a direct rebuttal to my previous post. Enjoy!

Don't listen to him, Sheri! Here's why you shouldn't write a blog:

  • Remember that the difference between "blog" and "Borg" is only one letter... don't be assimilated! Every idiot in creation now seems to be convinced that we want to know what his opinion is, and busily sets about cluttering up the 'Net with it. (OK, not all of them are idiots -- vide supra. But 99.5% of all blogs are self-centered garbage.)
  • Blogs are destroying journalism. Readers unfortunately give blogs as much credence as the legitimate media, with disastrous consequences for the political process, since blogs have no tradition of objectivity, even-handedness, or obligation to tell the truth. Because printing used to be expensive, we give printed words more credit than spoken ones -- someone who printed his words was truly putting his money where his mouth was. But blogs cost nothing, with the result that they give undeserved weight to what might otherwise be the rantings of a street-corner lunatic.
  • Writing takes time. Good writing takes longer. Blogging is unpaid work that takes time away from what you're really supposed to be doing. I write when I'm paid to write or when it serves my business interests; otherwise, I've got more important things to do, like taking a walk or reading... a BOOK.
  • For more reasons not to blog, see: http://www.designersnotebook.com/No_Weblog/no_weblog.htm

Comments

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I'm curious as to why blogging is unpaid work, but reading a newspaper, reading a book or writing email isn't unpaid work. :)

If I go to my local IGDA chapter meet, is that not also unpaid work?

If I work on the design of a game for my own enjoyment, is that not also unpaid work?

Why should I expect to get paid for everything I do that is 'work like'? Some things we do for other reasons than money! :)

As for the accusation that blogging is destroying legitimate journalism; are we talking about people giving up journalistic sources in favour of blogs, or people who previously had no input from journalism who are now getting information (however inaccurate) from blogs? On the basis of what I see of US news sources, I can't say I'm wholly surprised that people feel the need to look elsewhere!

The oral tradition is vitally important as a counterbalance to conventional news sources. Blogging is just a massively connected extension to the oral tradition. But one must *always* take into account the reliability of source - both with blogs, and just as importantly with journalism.

As to the accusation that 99% of blogging content is self-centred garbage - so what! It's all elective content - one only reads what one chooses. I could equally level this complaint against almost any other media.

Should we not judge a media by its highest attainments, not it's lowest? If not, theatre, movie, novels and television are royally screwed! :)

You said pretty much everything I would have, just one thing to add.

In the early days of the United States, journalism was very populist, much like the blogs of today. The cost of printing a locally distributed almanac was low enough that anyone, and thier cousin, who presumably refilled toner, could publish. While most of these people were yokels with the occasional cute obseravation who largely replicated information at lower degrees of accuracy than you might expect in a centralized publication, on out of a hundred thousand of these people were Ben Franklin.

When information flow is populist and thus, populated, you get lots of stuff ranging from garbage to mildly interesting, but you also get the occasional renaissance person. Nowadays such renaissance people can link to each other and comment on each others writing, anywhere in the world, in roughly real-time. Its like the declaration of independence all over again.

I find myself in the rather curious position of defending blogging on account of Chris's blog, because it's the only one I read.

Other than that, I would probably echo most of Ernest's criticisms, especially that the overwhelming majority of the blogosphere (oh how I loathe to use such terms) is shit. In general terms, blogging for me seems to reflect certain very troublesome tendencies toward possessive egoism in our culture, and of course the belief that simply formulating an opinion guarantees that it is somehow worth expressing. Or not even that: as Ernest rightly points out in his anti-blogging remarks, simply recording observations of day-to-day goings on without reflection is really just a colossal waste of time.

I think Chris and Patrick have it right, however; blogging is worthwhile, in terms of connecting thoughtful people together in a way they never would have been before, and with reference to their comments about other popular "news" media.

I don't think of blogs as a proper alternative or replacement for journalism, properly executed, but it can largely function as a replacement for a newspaper, which often has about the same signal-to-noise ratio as the blogosphere generally. For all the people rattling off their self-interested opinions for no one in particular (in blogs and newspaper columns), there are a very very few like Chris who are consistently engaging on a variety of topics, serving his own intellectual cultivation as well as that of others.

Ernest is right to caution Sheri from blogging, if she were to somehow fall into the trap of the horrible navel gazing that constitutes most blogs. But Chris is simply calling a valued industry colleague to a table of thoughtful discussion.

I'm glad Ernest posted because that's the first time I'd seen his site, and there are a lot of very interesting articles on his site. It may not in the format of a blog, but I find little to distinguish the content of Ernest's site from Chris' excellent posts on game design and other topics. They're just formatted differently. If Chris' blog is the model, then I'd invite Sheri and Ernest to blog as well!

I think a fundamental difference between the content at Ernest's site and the contents of my blog is that Ernest's material is largely a collection of articles he has been paid for, whereas my blog represents wholly unpaid material. That said, I fully intend to raid my blogs for future magazine articles and books, so I see this in part as an investment towards future work.

I suspect I'm also gaining PR benefits from the blog which are disproportionate to the amount of time I spend doing it, which makes it a highly equitable value proposition.

I believe it would be good for the game community if Sheri did decide to blog because I feel we need some female icons for the new generations coming into games development to look up to. I don't know how comfortable Sheri is being an icon, but in this regard she has no choice. :) It's up to her if she wants to blog, though.

As for the example of early journalism, I'm going to have to look into that in more detail, as it sounds like a fascinating period of history.

Damn... have to dash. Later!

Isn't Ernest's comment, though not a blog entry, also "self-centered garbage"? Doesn't he have "more important things to do, like taking a walk or reading... a BOOK"? Didn't bouncing his comment up to top level give "undeserved weight to what might otherwise be the rantings of a street-corner lunatic"? After all "every idiot in creation now seems to be convinced that we want to know what his opinion is." I wouldn't say or agree with this, though.

It seems that much of this criticism is entirely subjective. With all the diversity of content available, won't we all agree that 99.5% of blogs are worthless to us, while disagreeing which blogs are part of that 99.5%? One man's garbage is another man's treasure, right? Of course the same can't be said about journalists reporting the facts. :)

Speaking for myself, I like to give undeserving weight to the rantings of street corner lunatics. :)

My original post was so one sided, being a glowing recommendation of the merits of blogging, I felt that it was worth having counter arguments to sit along side it.

As for journalists and facts, well, I reckon there has to be some good journalists out there somewhere... maybe they're blogging. :)

And if you MUST blog, at least turn comments off. It's bad enough that precious 'Net bandwidth is taken up with the trivial and self-absorbed ruminations of hormonal teenagers (isn't that what journals are for -- and the precise reason those journals should be private?), but worse yet when it is further squandered on the equally irrelevant replies of their peers.

Fight the proliferation of net.opinions, including this one. Turn the comments off.

There is a current and terrifying move towards a tiered Internet, in which bandwidth vendors will charge a premium to anyone trying to distribute their own content rather than that generated by the bandwidth vendors themselves, and we knows who's at fault for that, don't we? Blogs! Endless streams of worthless content cluttering up the spectrum with pictures of kittens and ponies. No wonder Verizon wants to make people pay extra.

My new motto: don't blog, WRITE! Write music and novels and plays. Write mathematical theorems and scholarly articles. Write poetry and essays and political manifestoes. Write with beauty, write with precision, write with grace and polish, write ABOUT something rather than about nothing, or worse yet, about what you saw on somebody ELSE's goddam blog.

WRITE and then PUBLISH by means of an EDITOR and a PUBLISHER. Editors are an essential part of the writing process that blogs bypass, and God almighty, does it show! And PUBLISHERS, though almost universally reviled, are the one tiny feeble bulwark we have against the street-corner lunatics and the adolescents. They may publish a staggering amount of crap -- books full of astrology -- but at least they don't publish the revolting consequences of hormones run riot. For that you have to read a blog.

The only people who should blog are those who are not ALLOWED to write, e.g. Iranian or Chinese dissidents. For them I make an exception, because they have something important to say and no other way to say it.

Don't blog, Sheri! WRITE! At the end of your life, when you look back over your body of work, which do you think you will be remembered for: a series of books and articles that contributed meaningfully to the field, edited by editors, published by publishers, stored in the libraries of the world's great universities, quoted and discussed by others for perhaps generations? Or a series of blog posts, written in the moment, here today, gone tomorrow, scrolling off the bottom of the screen to oblivion?

What separates journalism and true authorship from blogging is that the former require at least two other people to believe that your prose is worthwhile: one to take a financial risk on printing it, and one to justify that risk by paying for it. Blogs don't have to justify themselves in any way whatsoever; they are absolutely without standards.

Don't blog. Write. And don't waste your disk space and bandwidth on the opinions of others about your writing; if they have opinions about your writing, let them write, and publish, reviews of it.

But what do you really think. :)

For a long time, I'd only read works which had been filtered by publishers and editors, and felt that reading blogs was a waste of time. Through sheer coincidence, I ran across Raph Koster's blog, poked through his entries, looked through his links to other blogs, and eventually started checking out the blogs of the people who were leaving comments in other people's blogs. I came to the realization that blogs are the internet version of a BS session; it's like watching a movie or play with some friends, then going down to a diner and grabbing a burger and brew and chatting about what it meant. Nobody's opinions are going to matter as much as the work being talked about, or even as much as the opinion of the critics. What matters isn't society as a whole, but the opportunity to develop and shatter your own conceptions in a group of people you're comfortable doing that with. And when you feel comfortable being wrong, you may actually explore dubious, potentially universe-shatteringly-wrong viewpoints, which in the end could shed light on truths which were hiding in the shadows.

I even started blogging; of course, I consider myself among the navel gazers. There's plenty of room for garbage out there. Often, it's not the blogs themselves that have the real nuggets of wisdom anyway, but the comments. I enjoy everything Ernest writes; his insights are far beyond anything this mere mortal will ever offer. My initial experience which hooked me on Gamasutra was reading a Designer's Notebook column; before looking at anything else I went back to the first one posted and read them all in chronological order. But the comment he wrote in response to this blog simultaneously justifies and condemns the existence of blogs. It's full of passion and arguable claims which would surely be edited if it went through the standard filters; and it opens up all kinds of questions about the purpose of unfiltered, unpolished communication.

Why thank you, Eric! I'm flattered. I trust you're aware that my objections are mostly tongue-in-cheek, particularly as they're made in this venue.

Irrelevent trashy comment that is a waste of bandwidth: take a look at the box cover of Front Mission 4, which Chris Bateman is currently playing. A man and a woman, shirtless, lying on their backs, heads together, heads only showing, eyes closed.

Does this remind anyone of some of the double-acts available at http://www.beautifulagony.com ?

Where do you suppose their hands are?

Wow, you're even more sensitive to tacit sexual content in games than I am! :) This one never struck me as sexual; in fact, it seems a rather sterile and disappointing image to me. I'm not at all sure what it's expected to represent.

As for game box covers, nothing could be as awful as this one to my eyes:

http://archive.gamespy.com/asp/image.asp?/top10/january03/covers/5a.jpg

I own this game (my wife being a big Bust a Move fan), and I think even blatant pornography would be less offensive to my aesthetic tastes! :)

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