Saturday, November 29, 2008

What kind of blog do you want to be when (if) you grow up?

Last week my friend Waldo discovered the Typealyzer, which does a quick, automated survey of any given blog, and then characterizes the writing style found therein.

Both Waldo and I came out as Thinkers, which is probably appropriate when applied to him, and wishful thinking for me.

This is what it says about Thinkers:

The logical and analytical type. They are especially attuned to difficult creative The Doers are happiest with action-filled work which craves their full attention and focus. They might be very impulsive and more keen on starting something new than following it through. They might have a problem with sitting still or remaining inactive for any period of time.
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.

For curiosity's sake, I tried this with Delaware Watch [Dana, you should be flattered I thought of you first], and got the response that Dana is a Doer:

The active and play-ful type. They are especially attuned to people and things around them and often full of energy, talking, joking and engaging in physical out-door activities. The Doers are happiest with action-filled work which craves their full attention and focus.

They might be very impulsive and more keen on starting something new than following it through. They might have a problem with sitting still or remaining inactive for any period of time.

For the record, Dana, there is a line-drawing of a teenage girl basketball player beside this description. Not sure what's up with that, but hey...

Actually, I tried Dana first because I figured that this kind of automated Meyers-Briggs Test was probably more accurate when applied to blogs written primarily or entirely with one voice.

I figured that if you applied it to a blog with multiple, regular authors, like Delawareliberal, you might get a different response.

And I did; sort of. When I did this with DL about three days ago I got The Mechanics:

The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment are masters of responding to challenges that arise spontaneously. They generally prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts.

The Mechanics enjoy working together with other independent and highly skilled people and often like seek fun and action both in their work and personal life. They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters.

Okay, fine, I guess. I'm not real sure the program is correct with that often avoid inter-personal conflicts thing, but on the whole, not too bad.

The weird part is that I ran the thing again on DL today, and got The Doers like Dana. This suggests that the Typealyzer only checks the last few posts of a blog before characterizing it.

So, to check that, I re-ran my own blog, and discovered that while DL has evolved from Mechanics to Doers, I have likewise evolved from a Thinker to a Mechanic.

Since I suspect that jason, dv, and company haven't fundamentally changed over the past couple of days than I have, I guess that automated psycho-analysis has a way to go.

None of which is too surprising, but it does raise the issue of whether the kind of blog you try to produce is actually what your readers perceive. Granted that this is all a form of mental masturbation, fueled by the ego-centrism to believe that you consistently have something interesting and/or valuable to say about issues of the day, and that only a very, very few people ever make (or try to make) a dime out of blogging, it's still an interesting question.

How do you determine, as a reader, which blogs are worth reading?

I pretty much divide the blogs that I frequent into three categories:

1) Visit occasionally; comment never.

2) Visit regularly; comment occasionally.

3) Visit regularly; comment regularly.

Most of the blogs on my blogroll fall into category two--possibly as much from laziness as anything else--at least in part because of how useful or entertaining I find the conversations there.

Over the past month, I've commented mostly on Down With Absolutes, DelawareWatch, Boston Tea Party, kavips, and The Mourning Constitution. (I'd have been able to add Hube to this list, but his server keeps telling me it temporarily can't take comments right now, deleting whatever masterpiece I've just written and don't have the gumption to recreate later.)

My pattern has only changed at Delawareliberal, where I still visit and read, but feel absolutely no urge to comment.

I wondered why that happened, and I thought about it for awhile. I need to be careful here, because the last time I said anything even mildly critical about DL (once here and once on DTR in the same week in response to Mike's question), everybody over there got their panties fairly tightly wadded. So, stepping forward slowly, I realized that two features of DL had subtly changed over the past few months.

One is banning commenters, which happened to mike w and a bundy (who knows who else?) recently. Don't get me wrong, you've got the right to run your blog any way you please... but these were the same folks who gave Dana Garrett mounds of shit when he briefly turned on comment moderation. You can't have it both ways.

[Truth in advertising: I also gave Dana some shit then, but frankly, have changed my mind on that issue. His response to unwelcome posts was actually pretty well-considered, and he stopped as soon as the original problem went away.]

Number two is the slide toward the demonization/exterminationist language about anybody who is not completely onboard with the progressive/liberal agenda in general, and the incoming Obama administration in specific. I enjoy reading cassandra and pandora (and LG, but his posts have been less frequent of late) because they actually talk about policy and problems and solutions rather than simply characterizing the millions of Americans who might have different political views as ... well, let's just say unworthy to participate in the political process.

When you start attacking peoples' families or characterizing others as racists just because they have different outlooks (while feeling free to crack gay jokes), then while I may keep reading ... I'm not going to feel much like engaging.

I'm certain my particular lack of engagement is not seen as much of a loss over there.

As for Delaware Libertarian, I'm still not sure what this blog is right now, much less what it wants to be as an adult. I've been at this now for a year, and there have been ups and downs, things I did well and even more things I'm not that happy with. Most of the time there's a lot more Libertarian than there is Delaware, and there are a lot of posts that are ... neither. Some of which attract more attention than anything else (go figure).

Point of all this navel-gazing? Blogs are, I think, like too many other endeavors. They tend to get routine over time, and drift in ways you're not intending or expecting. Sometimes that's good, but usually it isn't.

Sometimes you need to go back and intentionally re-think why you started doing this in the first place, which is what I intend to do over the next few days.


Hube said...

Steve: I understand about the comments at Colossus. Out of my control. My recommendation when you leave a comment and you get that "spam" notice is to just keep clicking your "reload" button until the comment appears. That's why I do. (I actually right-click the mouse and select "reload," FWIW.) It usually works, at the most, after 5-6 attempts.

This is just an automatic server attempt to battle spam. It goes away after the spam attack subsides.

In addition, if your comment is quite lengthy, before you click "post," copy the comment just in case something goes screwy. I usually do that everywhere, just in case.

At any rate, thanks for including Colossus in the "frequently commented" list despite our spam hassles. :-)

Hube said...

BTW, Colossus just ran as "mechanic."

aka rc said...

Yo Steve:

Almost fell out the chair laughing. Afraid to show it to the wife. There's an oven element she has been after me for two weeks to install.

"Conservative by nature they are often reluctant to take any risks whatsoever."

They obviously have not ridden on my bike or where my bike goes.

"Duty fulfiller:

The responsible and hardworking type. They are especially attuned to the details of life and are careful about getting the facts right. Conservative by nature they are often reluctant to take any risks whatsoever.

The Duty Fulfillers are happy to be let alone and to be able to work in their own pace. They know what they have to do and how to do it."

I must admit though they are getting a lot of damn hits.

So I think I'll develop a program that tells ya what you dream't last night. Since the only ones we talk about are the ones we remember.