Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Back to normal? What's normal?

My uncomfortable brush with traffic from an A-List blog should have subsided by now (I don't actually track such things, so guessing), and I'm breathing a bit easier. There's no evidence that I've horribly offended anyone I respect, and there's been no ominous message that begins "Conover, please come see me in my office."

The experience (like so many) was instructive. It taught me that I've still got the reflexive "Look At Me!" gene. Otherwise, I would have (and perhaps should have) respectful declined Jay Rosen's offer. It taught me that my primary responses to attention are contradictory (part of me wants it, much of me does not), which means I probably have an innate tendency toward hypocrisy. I'll have to watch that carefully if I keep doing this media blogging thing.

I'm also wondering, for the first time, whether there's much point in me continuing. I don't HAVE to have a blog to comment on posts ... I just figured that if I was going to comment on this stuff, I ought to have some experience with this stuff. I've posted my big ideas on media, but they draw no interest or discussion. People are interested when I say controversial, provocative things... but you know, most of those arguments are decades old. When I jump in, I feel like I'm just picking at scabs and scratching the resulting itch.

When I started this blog, I thought it would be good to use my name and make everything as plain as I could. No clever title (my first blog, written anonymously, had the exceedingly clever title "Mysterious Erotic Technical Manual"). No hiding behind some one-name handle derived from some obscure figure from the Latin/Greek classics.

(...which, by the way, is a tradition that really should be credited to novelist Orson Scott Card, who -- and I believe this strongly -- should be credited as one of the godparents of blogging. What else is the Ender series' Peter Wiggins but a protoblogger, trying to change the world by his brilliance, posted anonymously online? Disclosure: I know Mr. Card and like him as a human being, even though I thoroughly dislike much of what he has done with his political columns).

But I'm getting the sense that I'm taking this as far as I can, and perhaps farther than I should. My fiction writing has gone on complete hiatus since I took up a more active interest in participating in the media debates, and to be blunt about it, I'm playing this particular game with a handicap. Someone who works for a newspaper simply cannot speak as freely about the industry as someone outside it. At the beginning, I just wanted to make sure there were some working journalists in the conversation. Now I understand why there aren't more.

I really like blogging, though. No matter how things go, I don't see giving that up. And if nothing else, this experience has put me in a position to help my employer make a move into these new mediums. It looks like I'll be running our first blog (covering a three-week arts festival in May and June), and this morning I got an invitation to sit in on the group that will be talking about our future on the Web -- one of only two reporters to get a seat at the table.

But this particular blog? Maybe not.