With Jeff ID sadly shutting down the Air Vent, it’s worth a comment on comments, on blogging, and on the strange lifestyle that this is. But given that it’s 11:22pm 12:35pm here, and my office is still full of packed boxes (thanks to the marvellous newly laid wooden floor) tonight is not the time to try to eruditely capture the conditio sine qua non of blogging.
Instead I’ll say I completely understand why Jeff wants some time out (indefinitely). There must be a way to maintain a blog without it taking over all the spare moments in a day, and I’m going to find it, though the compass on my desk is just pointing at the magnet in my hard drive, and there is no GPS in the house.
Thanks for the patience of all the regulars out there who are turning up this month to find an erratic rhythm.
It’s a case of positive feedback
Due to the immediate feedback nature of comments and emails, once a post goes up, it’s easy to… keep posting, in the sense that ideas flow, questions that desperately need answering turn up, things that need debunking arise, and people send in good ideas of their own. It’s hard to draw the line, “more feeds on more” and it’s easy to try to follow the threads… (if only there were 124 hours in a day). Hence it gravitates towards an all-in/all-out mentality.
There is also that pressure that 3,000 people will be popping in, and there’s no new post to show, and plus, blogs become their own community, and who wants to let good people down?
Not to mention that there is a wall of pompous, self-inflated ego’s who keep offering up clay pigeons that are not just easy targets, but spontaneously implode in a light breeze. Special thank yous to Clive Hamilton, Stefan Lewandowsky, Bob Ward, Robin Williams… and the folks at 10:10. Where would I be without them?
In a similar vein, Chiefio has some insight on the comments you don’t see– and you can find out what I and the moderators deal with behind the scenes (I’m very grateful to the moderation team here who make it possible for me to put up more posts). Like Cheifio I get the endless barrage of Cyrillic comments, irrelevant one-liners, and false flattery (“Great blog, I’ve added you to my RSS feed”.)
Yes I have learnt to recognize the block shape of some spam at a glance. But in truth I stopped reading my spam file in August 2009. If your comment disappears, please email support AT joannenova.com.au so I or the moderators can fish it out. Right now there are 14,029 comments in the spam file. It’s the abyssal depths of the blog (it’s near freezing and pitch black down there, and the only signs of life are microbial) so if a comment gets spammed, there is no chance of an accidental rescue, but we are happy to send in a search team. Once the giant Filter-feeder from the depths smells spam, it will not let further comments through from the same person. Apologies for all the good comments picked up as collateral damage; please don’t hesitate to ask for help, unless of course, you are a Russian spambot.
And yes, I have had a couple of nice replies from Spambots in Moscow. They sign up for my emails so they can post a comment but one or two have a sense of fair play and when I email them, they reply with something like: I’m not real, don’t bother. Take me off your list.
This oddest of odd lifestyles is incredibly stimulating (like getting emails from Professors in Norway with lavish praise at 1am, or attending dinners with politicians (people like Bernardi, Jensen, and Fielding) and meeting some very notable business-folk), but it’s also potentially obsessive, and a bit like living with permanent jet lag. Hence I’ve been taking time out, as I try to catch up on all the little tasks that didn’t happen in 2010, like setting up camping gear, sealing slate floors, and throwing out 102 editions of New Scientist. We’ve also just had an excellent short beach holiday with the Thompsons at a truly magnificent holiday house generously provided by someone who happens to be a reader here. (A big thank you to farmer Anthony– it was brilliant!).
While unpaid, there are riches on offer for we pro-bono-bloggers, most of which is in the quality of the people we meet: the true gems. Skepticism is a marvelous sieve. The only shame, is that so many of the treasures are too far away to share a block of chocolate with.
And speaking of Chocolate, thanks infinitely for the support. Due to Australian government rules, I recently found out from Paypal that Australians are not allowed any more to accept things labeled “Donations” unless they’re a registered charity (as if I have the time to register). I kid you not. You may have thought you had the right to decide who to donate your money too — but only the government does. A new paypal button called the “tip jar” or something like that, will be appearing sometime when I have a few spare weeks and a team of advisors to figure out what I am allowed to do and whether it fits under the category “subscription” or “buy now” even though it isn’t either of those. (My paypal account BTW is linked to the usual address: joanne”AT”joannenova.com.au) Once again, the integrity of the English language is pushed beyond the brink, and a universal word, donation, now has legal qualifiers.
I will probably try out some other blogging patterns in 2011. In the rush to posting original commentary every day means big picture items never get finished (ie. book, you tube, FAQ, graphics on the hotspot, and powerpoint file for people doing speeches), marching the daily grind means falling into the same trap the mainstream journalists do — more superficial — less depth.
I’ll be more use to the skeptic world if I step back and get some of these done. So I won’t be trying to stick to the daily routine, but take it as it comes, and apologies for the gaps. I won’t be much use to anyone if I burn myself out.