Slow down, you blog too fast

The New York Times has noticed the trend of “slow blogging,” which it calls a small, quirky movement “inspired by the slow food movement, which says that fast food is destroying local traditions and healthy eating habits.”

“Slow bloggers,” says the Times, “believe that news-driven blogs like TechCrunch and Gawker are the equivalent of fast food restaurants — great for occasional consumption, but not enough to guarantee human sustenance over the longer haul.” The Times story referred to Vancouver tech guy Todd Sieling, who in 2006 wrote a Slow Blog Manifesto as a writing experiment.

Sieling’s manifesto is worth a read in full, IMO, especially his description of slow blogging as “a willingness to remain silent amid the daily outrages and ecstasies that fill nothing more than single moments in time, switching between banality, crushing heartbreak and end-of-the-world psychotic glee in the mere space between headlines.”

Slow DownAnother thoughtful contributor to slow blogging — or as he calls it, “bright blogging” — is Journalism and Mass Communications prof. David D. Perlmutter, via the Oxford University Press blog. Perlmutter says there’s a new crisis in how we communicate, with voices that “are many, loud and raucous.” Writes Perlmutter:

“But what many people are asking is, How do I get good information? How do I hear from someone who really is an expert in a subject, whether that expertise has been achieved by diligent application or through long experience or education? Where can I discover people who are coherent and responsible, intelligent and precise?”

Perlmutter’s answers are, in part:

  • LIMIT YOUR AUDIENCE … Lurkers are welcome, but spammers, ranters and liars are not. Invite controversy and debate; cherish argument. Reject hate, vitriol and the politics of personal destruction.
  • SEND FRUGALLY. … Think: do I need to send this? Does anybody need to know it?

I like the slow part of any trend to slow blogging. Slow is often good, providing space to think, change our minds, add or subtract before we commit. But part of me recoils at the phrase slow blogging much the way I still, after all these years and despite my own involvement in various web logs, dislike the very word blog.

Blog struck me from the outset as an altogether pretentious, juvenile and ugly word. Originally calling oneself a “blogger” seemed often to declare membership in some new elite tribe, the intelligentsia of Web
2.0, Web 11.0 or Web-whatever. Now, with the extreme proliferation of blogs, self-identification as a blogger can often seem … sad.

How is having a blog significantly different from journaling, keeping a diary, recording a log? The only significant difference, it seems to me, is that blogger‘s communications with each other are not painted on cave walls, etched in stone or wood, or inked on paper, but are instead shared via our latest means of electronic communication. And, perhaps partly because of the speed and population of the Internet, the blogoshere has become (to politely borrow Perlmutter’s words) loud and raucous or (to less politely borrow Sieling’s words) banal or psychotic.

Perhaps if we slow these things we call blogs down, they might evolve into something less raucous and more thoughtful … kind of like journaling worthy of sharing. Kind of like thoughtful journalism