Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A "Real" Post

Soccer Dad made a sarcastic comment on his blog - in complete jest - but it got me thinking. [emphasis mine]
Just in case you thought that blogging was all work and no play, blogger AnyLetter doesn't do just one, but two carnivals. First he did the inaugural "Carnival of Computing" then he stepped into the breach and addressed a need when there was a snafu with the Carnival of the Capitalists (though he didn't get paid for it!) and hosted this week's Carnival of the Capitalists.

And if he hasn't had enough fun, AnyLetter is hosting the second Carnival of Computing on Thursday... And man stop with all these carnivals and do some real blogging. Life's not just one big carnival. I think that you're having too much fun! :-) (Seriously, thanks for filling in at Carnival of the Capitalists and best of luck with the Carnival of Computing!)
Part of me finds my though process at the moment quite ironic: Soccer Dad is the blogger who first introduced me to the concept of blogging carnivals, trackbacks, and the like; and here, a comment by him is making me re-think just how I go about doing so.

I enjoy blogging carnivals. Soccer Dad originally introduced me to Haveil Havalim, the Jewish/Israel 'Vanity of Vanities' blogging carnival, and I thought the concept was brilliant - allowing dozens of people who have similar interests to see each other's thoughts on those subjects. Since then, I've submitted to the Carnival of the Capitalists and the Carnival of Comedy (also on Soccer Dad's suggestion), and been interested in many of the other posts in those carnivals as well.

This week, I've been introduced to the 'open trackbacks' that people sometimes put up - essentially, tell your readers at some point in a post that so-and-so bloggers are hosting open trackbacks, and send a 'trackback' to that post of your own post. Others will see your trackback on the host blog, and come back and read your post on your blog. I decided to spice it up with my own idea - I trackbacked to a new post of mine in which I listed the people who were hosting, and my post itself consisted of a mini-carnival of my own posts. I split up about two weeks' worth of posts by category, and wrote little one-liners explaining what each post discussed. My reasoning was simple: Open trackbacks are essentially invitations for bloggers to show off some of their work; why not show off a whole slew of examples, but instead of sending a million trackbacks, send one - and then let the bloggers themselves choose what subjects may interest them. Everyone wins: I get to show off my work, and the rest of the blogosphere can more clearly ascertain what posts of mine may interest them - if any.

I also did a bit less writing, and a bit more editing, when creating new posts this week. [For an explanation of the difference, see the Best of the Web post which quotes Don Beste.] For example, last night and earlier today there were many issues I was interested in posting about. However, I noticed that four major bloggers - all of whom I enjoy - had either already covered or linked to the subjects, and those posts were written quite well. Rather than write the exact same ideas in slightly inferior language, I made a post of links to the subjects I found interesting.

But at the same time, I've felt like I'm "cheating" a bit. Whether I'm cheating the people who read this blog, or myself, or both - I'm really not sure. But I feel that by cutting my writing time to make trackbacks, join carnivals, or create personal carnival posts, I'm getting a large number of hits - not because I necessarily wrote a good post, but because of a few well-placed trackbacks on larger blogs. Trackbacks are great, but they seem to take away from the true substance: The writing of the blogs themselves.

On the other hand, the purpose of trackbacks is specifically to allow people to do as I am - show the rest of the blogosphere that a blogger has written a relevant article on the subject which they may enjoy. If they do, great. If not, big deal. But without the trackback, they'd never even have the opportunity to decide for themselves. The writing is almost worthless if nobody will ever read it. [I actually disagree with my own statement, as I get enjoyment, regardless of whether anyone reads it or not - but it is designed to reach an audience of more than myself, and therefore I derive satisfaction more in the knowledge that others have been presented another point of view than in my own ability to place my thoughts coherently on a computer.] As I read recently on another blog, "If a blogger writes a post and nobody reads it, does it make a sound? Does it mean anything at all?!"

When it comes down to it, both ideas are necessary and compatible. We obviously need to write, because that is at least part of the reason many of us are blogging in the first place. By the same token, we need the trackbacks and carnivals et al for another part of the reason many of us are blogging - it is a form of joining a community: One in which we not only share our own ideas, but see and share others' ideas as well. I'm not cheating myself or the readers - I'm opening the blog to a much larger audience, whose potential feedback can easily add far more substance than a few more posts that I would otherwise write.

My only innovation, if it can be called that, is the self-aggrandizing - yet guest-friendly - "self-carnival," as one commenter put it. I'm curious if others have done so in the past - I'm not so naive or egotistical to think I'm the first - and how it worked out, and I'm also interested in other people's thoughts on the matter.
(As a side note... if it is an idea people are interested in duplicating, what should it be called? A "self-carnival"? A "self-carnival open trackback submission" [SCOTS]? An "Everyone Go Out and Blog Over Outlandish and Selfish Trackbacks" [EGOBOOST]?)
To me, the idea of bloggers creating these self-carnivals every once in a while seems like a wonderful way to introduce the rest of the blogosphere to one's own blog - something that is especially important for those who are new at blogging, such as myself. It's different than the sections that many place on their blogs, and - at least the way I imagine it and did it - is primarily focused on recent posts, such as over a 1- or 2-week period. I think it's a wonderful idea, but I'm biased. What do you think?

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  1. I have MT as a blogging platform. So one thing I did was cut and paste the code for my most recent posts into the template for individual entries. It used to be that you couldn't get that list if you sought out a single item. Now someone can do that. I believe that it's increased my traffic a little.

  2. Interesting idea. I'll have to see if I can do the same on Blogger.