The Amateur Web

A few weeks ago, I read an article (that I can no longer find) on the end of the amateur web. The author was talking about how he was trying to do a routine sprucing up of his personal blog, changing the theme and the design elements and so on, when he suddenly realized that it was no longer fun, no longer the easy tinkering that it used to be, now that he has to make sure it looks good not only on every browser and OS but also on every mobile device and app that readers will use to access your site. Writers, he concludes, should stick to writing and leave the design, upkeep, promotion and marketing to the professionals. This is the solution that sites such as Medium offer, and his prediction was that more and more writers will embrace these solutions and gradually abandon their personal blogs.

As I was reading this, though, the more pressing question on my mind was, “what do we have to say, anyway?” Amateur journalism is certainly a thing that exists, and the power and reach of amateur opinions online has been widely praised (and criticized). Most amateur writing on the web, though, is not journalism, or advocacy, or even substantiated opinion. Most writing on the web is, in fact, nothing but the barely coherent musings of people who feel that they have something to say but are not entirely sure what it is. (There are of course exceptions: as a rule of thumb, the more focused a site is, the less expansive an area it targets, the more it has to say. This also has exceptions.) I have written before (as have others, and better, which is basically my point) on how much of our online presence essentially boils down to identity performance. We all -with varying degrees of effort; you might not feel like you’re doing this, but only a little self-reflection should be required to see it- construct and project an image that reflects only what we want others to see. For most of us a successful performance is one that we wear as a second skin, comfortable enough that we never have to take it off. The difficulty arises when it no longer wears snugly, when it begins to suffocate us, when the dissonance between the mask and the confusing mess within begin to grate.

There exists, as an antidote that is always available to the writer, the obsessive honesty of Hemingway or the nearly fetishistic transparency of Karl Ove Knausgård. It is the cost of this antidote that frightens me, because of course Sartre’s statement was quite incomplete: Hell is not other people. Hell is what you see of other people through their masks, and hell is also the fear of what might be behind your own.


Typealyzer is a neat little site, a lot more interesting than most. Also, the second paragraph is exactly what Anoosh gives as his reason for not reading my blog.

The analysis indicates that the author of is of the type:

INTP – The Thinkers

The logical and analytical type. They are especialy attuned to difficult creative and intellectual challenges and always look for something more complex to dig into. They are great at finding subtle connections between things and imagine far-reaching implications.

They enjoy working with complex things using a lot of concepts and imaginative models of reality. Since they are not very good at seeing and understanding the needs of other people, they might come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive to people that need some time to understand what they are talking about.

Death by Blogging

I think this was picked up on xkcd a little while back, but I thought I might rehash it anyway. For me, the more immediate danger is “cup by surfing”.

Sorry about not keeping the promise about the fantasy post, I promise I’ll put it up soon, no matter how many little girls go “ewww!”. Anything really original may have to wait till after the exams,though.

In Web World of 24/7 Stress, Writers Blog Till They Drop – New York Times

A growing work force of home-office laborers and entrepreneurs, armed
with computers and smartphones and wired to the hilt, are toiling under
great physical and emotional stress created by the around-the-clock
Internet economy that demands a constant stream of news and comment………..

………..Other bloggers complain of weight loss or gain, sleep disorders, exhaustion and other maladies born of the nonstop strain of producing for a news and information cycle that is as always-on as the Internet.

To be sure, there is no official diagnosis of death by blogging, and the premature demise of two people obviously does not qualify as an epidemic. There is also no certainty that the stress of the work contributed to their deaths. But friends and family of the deceased, and fellow information workers, say those deaths have them thinking about the dangers of their work style.

The pressure even gets to those who work for themselves — and are being well-compensated for it.

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