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Bill Brown

A complicated man.

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Regular readers may know that I am disdainful of the A-list, bloggerati mentality that pervades the blogosphere. I could never quite articulate what I disliked about it until I read this blog entry from Tom Tomorrow, whose comic I occasionally find amusing:<blockquote>Look, you kids know I love the blogsread em, link to em, write one myself. But if you read this site, you also know Im not as swept up in the triumphalist mentality, the sense that blogs are the next dot-com boom, except, well, without money. And midway through the interview, I realized I was being asked to opine on a subject I simply didnt care much about. Blogs are a tool. Im interested in specific writers, specific ideas. I dont care about blogs as a concept.</blockquote>
There’s the rub. Those are the words that I felt but couldn’t formulate properly. All of the blogathons and self-referential memes left me cold and I’ve never participated in them because they left me with an insurmountable ennui.

The content is the focus—not the means by which you produce it. But the conceit that nearly all application makers (and blogging tool manufacturers—heh, manufacturers) embrace is that their application is an end in itself, rather than a means to a much larger end. I say nearly because there are plenty of examples of applications designed for a specific purpose that were designed to get out of your way.

You can open these sorts of applications up with only the knowledge of its purpose and get to work immediately. You might not be able to do the most sophisticated stuff, but you can get productive quickly. My favorite example in this regard is OmniOutliner, whose interface is so intuitive that I’m not sure I even looked at the menus the first twenty outlines I produced. Yet when I came across a situation that didn’t seem to fit the typical outline, the undiscovered power become quite apparent. I am still learning how to use it better, but it serves all of my needs.

Like Tom, it’s a tool. I don’t give much thought to the notion of outlining beyond it being a means to an end. The attention given to blogging seems misguided, as far as I’m concerned. This is really no different than personal home pages, which have been a central part of the Web since its inception. They’re now easier to create than ever before and they’ve drifted away from pictures of the site owner’s cat and mundane details of boring lives, but they’re basically the same phenomenon. I’m under no delusion that my blog is significant or any more important than the rest of my site.

In fact, to me, my blog is among the least important parts of my site. I do know, however, that the blog traffic is what gets people to look at the rest of the site so I happily maintain it. Plus, it is more convenient to edit than the other pages. That’s it.

[UPDATE: The article that precipitated the above was linked to from Dave Winer himself. He humorously seizes upon Orlowski’s use of “fleece” to describe the BloggerCon, completely missing the point that the convention is pointless. Or consciously missing the point. Orlowski wouldn’t charge that Dave was doing this for money because Orlowski knows—as does everyone—that Dave’s not in it for the money: he’s in it for the glory, for the spotlight, and for the fame. The money angle was probably designed to get some dough for Berkman. If he had his druthers, presumably, he’d make BloggerCon free so all comers could revel in his brilliance.]