Saturday, September 09, 2006

blog stuff

Anxious wrote a very thought provoking piece on 1st Sept about what makes a popular blog. One of the things she highlighted was that often very widely read blogs have a particular theme and stick with it so readers know what to expect. She mentioned for example ex-pats (eg Petite Anglais) and sexually explicit blogs (like Girl With a One Track Mind), both read by literally thousands of people.

Last night I went over to Rob's place where I saw this piece of news which I had previously missed. So not only Petite but now The Girl as well have been 'outed'in the press solely because of their respective blogs. Petite lost her job due to references, however oblique, to her employment. The Girl is now having to face family, friends and ex -colleagues (apparently she can't get more work in the same field due to the revelations) and say, what exactly? "Yes dad, the bit about masturbation onthe plane was true but I made up the story about me and the two lesbians." That is not a conversation I would ever want to have!

It seems clear that whilst having a popular blog can ultimately lead to that book deal it can cause a whole load of trouble along the way. I continue to be shocked that people are losing jobs over blogging. Even very minor blogs can cause grief for the writer but they can also yield unexpected and very positive results - in my case love and new friendships. But I am no longer relaxed about blogging as once I was. I scrutinise everything I write to ensure there is nothing that could be used against me by anyone I may inadvertently have upset. That may sound pretty paranoid but as some of you know, I do have my reasons for being cautious.


Big Jon said...

I put a few of my past sexual encounters into my blog, intending it to keep in private but my girlfriend found it and was not amused. Our relationship ended because of my blog. Now I have a new blog and am equally candid about sex...but I blog with even extra care! Cheers...and keep on blogging dear!

Reidski said...

As soon as I saw your post, I knew it was a mistake. Hence, the above exhibitionist and the person who found your site by googling 'masturbation'.
We have to think not only of those this post was intended to be read by but also those who will infect your site with this shite - exactly the mistake made by Petite Anglaise and all those others who have found themselves in trouble.

Gert said...

I think it's all a big fuss about nothing.

I think both The Girl and Petite in their different ways have drawn attention to their blogs.

And yet I did a straw poll at work and not one had heard The Girl (or her real name or her alias) or her blog. There are millions of blogs out there. And almost of all of them get a miniscule readership. Of mine I get about 1000 readers a day. About 110 to my front page (although it was 150 on Wednesday, 40 from Tom Watson's blogroll). I get about 150 a day specifically to my page on Pláci. 50-100 are for sensible/relevant searches (I'm getting a lot at the moment for Lastnight of the Proms/Proms in the Park). The rest are either looking for pictures I have removed of Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham and James Dean, or as a result of random combination of words.

Very very few non-bloggers I know in real life have told me they have found my blog by chance; most of those who have done so are from Streatham Labour Party as a result of googling a specific local political issue or name.

I had the sulks a few weeks ago when there was a lot of media coverage of other blogs, quite a few of which I think are even badly written or well written tripe. Then I thought, why would I want the approval of shallow not-very-bright journalists whom I frequently berate for their shallowness and lack of intelligence.

My blog isarunning commnetary on stuff on what's in my head, and I'm afraid I'm too much of a Renaissance Woman to have just one interest in life.

I get the approval I crave from elsewhere...

Anxious said...

I think Gert's right to a certain extent - we are in a bit of a bubble. What seems like big news in the Blogosphere is actually of very minor interest in the world at large.

Let's just get our facts straight about Petite. She was not outed in the press because of her blog, she was sacked because of her blog and then she sold the story of her sacking to the Daily Telegraph. She did court publicity and I think it's probably paid off for her in the long run.

The Girl...'s blog is a different case and I'm still not sure what I feel about it. By publishing the book and insisting on its being true, she will have aroused a lot of curiosity about her true identity. Maybe she should have been more like Belle de Jour and just had posts without comments, not engaged so much with her readers, not shown that she was a "whole person" if you like. People might have just thought it was erotic fiction and may not have hounded her once the book came out... There is a hell of a lot of erotic writing out there and people manage to write it without it ruining their life. As it was, she has had a huge amount of publicity and probably sold many more books than she would have done otherwise. That's not to say what happened to her was right, though.

Hmmm, it's a whole can of worms. But if you don't want to be associated with your writing, then you have to be careful.

The Moy said...

There are things I would never write down -- even under an alias on a blog, even in a written diary, and I've been keeping written diaries since I was nine. When I was a teenager, I got sent off to boarding school for a year, and kept a detailed journal while I was there. A couple years ago, I decided to re-read it and discovered that every girl on my dorm floor had signed one of the interior pages of what I had assumed was my carefully hidden diary. To this day, I'm astounded and impressed that none of them ever showed a sign of having read some of the things I'd said about them.

As for people hating you from miles away -- I've written for years about politics online under my own name. There are people who have never clapped eyes on me or spoken to me who are convinced I'm the devil incarnate.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Regarding voyeuristic and malicious blog visitors, I want to state categorically that I have never had sex, never thought about women in a sexual manner, never masturbated and the children I call mine are actually the offspring of our former milkman Louis who emigrated here from Poland in the sixties. I am in fact a monk! So put that in your pipes and smoke it you sons of bitches!

Arthur Clewley said...

I've got into bother for things on my blog a lot more innocuous than sex. I think you'll always risk bother even if you just blog about your little kitten playing with a ball of string. On the subject of sex, I live in the same monastary as YP and I'm reporting him to mother superior for blogging when he should have been at prayers this morning. The last person that comitted that offence had to go on a reality show with Andrew LLoyd webber.

Spunky Trunks said...

I get aboot 8 visitors a day! Not much worry of exposure for olds Trunks.

Your blog is a veritable populist gathering point by comparison.

And thanks for the good wishes. Much appreciated.

J.J said...

J.J said...
Reidski, I have to agree I need to be very very careful. Thank god for sensible comments to what was rather a waffly post induced by a bad night's sleep.

Gert, I have just read an article in today's Observer featuring Petite and The Girl amongst others and now I am thinking blogging is probably this months easy story - to be replaced shortly by something else equally unimportant. And I loved your summing up of shallow journalists!

Anxious, I think both P.A. and The Girl were naive if they believed they could get some publicity without their names coming out. I do wonder how they are really feeling about it now. and blimey! I didn't know The Girl had insisted it was all true - where does she get all that energy from!

The Moy, I had to destroy the diaries I kept as a teenager when it occurred to me my children would one day learn to read - but I hated having to do it.

Y.P - I am very pleased to hear it. This is a clean family site for clean living god fearing folk only.

Arthur - I can offer you understanding and sympathy on that front.

Spunky - I really hope things are improving for you all.

marc said...

Just can't explain it -- my man, Reidski gets a healthy turnout & he posts once in a blue...that's the secret -- ya keep em wanting more. Reidski, you're such a cruel tease....

J.J said...

Oh - yes he is Marc!

SimonHolyHoses said...

I think when I write anything that it's for myself. And then I get all mardy when nobody responds.

In fact I reached the point where I decided I couldn't be bothered anymore.

It's very easy to kid yourself that you're talking in confidance to a small group of trusted blog-friends, but it's a public broadcast.

It's very easy to get carried away with biographical material too. Some of what I write is true, some of it is fiction. It doesn't really matter. The only message I really want to put across is that the world is a very silly place, and also a very scary one.

The rest is a tentative and therefore misplaced self-publicity. I have an innate need for approval from others, so that's also another factor.

I'm just surprised really that anyone gets publicity out of a blog. It's all been done before. As far as saucy blogs go I would have thought it required the reader to stretch their suspension of disbelief almost to the breaking point of incredulity (ooh I loved that mashed up metaphor).

I like the ideas of anonymity, noms-de-plume, and fictional identities but invariably I start to get to know people and find myself wanting to explain myself because I feel guilty for inadvertantly deceiving them. You can't win!

J.J said...

You are right Simon. I used to write stuff which just wasn't me, and I lasted three months in which I only succeeded in boring myself before deleting the lot. I saw people writing stuff which made me like them and I didn't want them to think I was someone I wasn't. Errh, does that make any sense whatsoever?