Sunday, January 22, 2006

Ghost Blogs, Rod Serling and Thank You Very Much

The last couple days I have been researching some of the legal aspects and etiquette of blogging. It is simple enough to post on Blogger, but making sure you are staying within the boundries of the law and good manners is another.

For instance, what if I review a DVD and I want to put a picture of the cover on my blog? It would be simple to find a picture on Google image search and link to it, but I do not think that is legal. I'm contacting people who I think can give me advice on this. What about famous pictures and paintings? Do I need to get permission to post a sample of work by Leonardo da Vinci? What are the boundries of copyright?

I am sure there are simple answers to these problems, it is just a matter of doing the research. I would be grateful to anyone who cares to send me an email or comment about this.

It seems like a minor issue, but I want to be a responsible blogger. Sloppiness and stupidity has hurt professional journalism and other media. People cut corners out of greed or laziness, and they paid a steep price for it along with their peers. Even small details can cause big problems if they are overlooked. I have been hurt enough by other people's incompetence that I try not to take anything for granted.

This week I have been exploring the blogosphere, in search of other bloggers to read and possibly share with. In my travels, I found many "ghost blogs", where people posted for a year or two, then they just stopped.

Reading a ghost blog is like finding a house with the front door wide open, and you discover no one has been home for over a year. There are plates on the kitchen table, the radio is on, the family photos are still on the wall, but no one is home. Why did they leave? Did they go on their own, or did someone take them away? Is that Rod Serling standing in the next room, smoking a cigarette and about to launch into sinister introduction?

Some ghost blogs are written by people who were never serious about it. They posted for a while, then the charm wore off and they stopped posting. Others close up shop and move to other places, never leaving a forwarding address.

The strangest ghost blogs are where someone posts a "mission statement" first entry, proclaming big plans about entries they will write...and then nothing else after that.

There is a sadness in finding a blog like this. It makes me wonder if that person had lofty ideas about writing and sharing their life, but was defeated by self-doubt or shyness before embarking on their blogging journey. It reminds me of space shuttle launches that were scrubbed only 2 seconds before liftoff. The engines fired up and started to thunder, the reddish flame of ignition blasting out of the nozzles, and then silence...followed by mission control explaining a safety mechanism kicked off and shut everything down.

To be so close to adventure, but to go nowhere, is a bitterness unlike any other. How many people start creative projects of all sorts, and then are felled by personal demons before they even try?

Maybe some discoved that serious blogging is a full time job. You must always be thinking of new things to write. You have to post almost every day or your content gets stale. You haven't posted since last week? You are a slacker!

You are often your own editor, so any mistakes in spelling or punctuation are all you. There is no "grammer pulice" to watch your back. If you have any editioral help at all, it is probably someone sending you an IM or an e-mail saying "Nice entry, but you need to re-read Elements of Style you sentence-chopping, comma-dropping idiot!"

People have enough stress in their lives already. Having strangers send them snarky emails about their use of passive voice might be too much to handle.

Do I have the stamina for this? I guess I will find out soon enough.

I would like to take this opportunity and thank Rachel at babayaga for adding my blog to her links and to T Campbell for mentioning me twice on his webcomics blog. I appreciate the help.


Sam said...

I never thought of blogging etiquette. Should have done. It's a good thing I read your blog or it never would have occured to me to consider the rules of blogging. And I LOVED your thoughts on the "grammer pulice". Generally, I tend to walk around correcting people's grammar, speach, slaughtered written English.

Lately, I have found that to be rude and inconsiderate. Unless of course the person really cares if they are speaking improperly.

But...I wanted my blog to be my thoughts. And my thoughts are so grammatically improper that I am certain I will be called a comma dropping idiot at least once or twice. A day. :)

Anyway, good thoughts and one of the more interesting, "I have actually wanted to read the whole thing" blogs I have come across since I have begun my whole blogging existence.

Charles G said...

YAHOO! A comment! Thank you!

Very nice comment by the way!