Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Over to Audio

I've been blogging for about 7 years now, on and off, since, I think, back on October 10, 2002, when I lived way up in the mountains in New Hampshire, with the most marvelous view of Lake Winnipesaukee that you can possibly imagine.

I miss living up there. I remember that one March we had four snowfalls of three feet or more. I was forever, it seemed, shoveling a trough up to the driveway and digging my car out of the snow and ice. I had to stuff rags in the door frame to conserve heat. But I seemed to be making lots of money and had a budget for everything I needed, and lots more. Maybe I just lived on a lot less.

Anyway, I have concluded that I'm not a very good blogger. I appreciate the readership of all of you, to be sure, but the truth is I struggle to get more than a mere 100 hits a day, even after all these years. Whatever it means to be a successful blogger, I don't have it. Maybe I don't post enough. Maybe I'm too analytical and not opinionated enough. Maybe I'm just a lousy writer.

Also, I think that except for some big time names, blogging is winding down. It seems to be taken over now by the magazines and places like Politico, and all those guys linking to each other. I don't want to be part of that, like the poor Matthew Yglesias who is so terrified of not posting on each and every little development in the day that he freaks out. That strikes me as a ridiculous way to live -- and think -- though maybe not if I was getting 100,000 visitors a day.

Even Kevin Drum, who was once one of my favorite bloggers, seems now to be kind of mailing it in. What do I really learn there? A short comment on a news story. No big deal.

Frankly, all that blogging by these types just seems to me to be a bunch of words with little insight or meaning. It's great Drum or Yglesias can make a living at it. I can't. It's time to face that.

So I'm cutting back severely on my blogging and focusing on a few other things: (1) income, which is not so easy as a freelancer right now in the recession, (2) book-writing, and (3) the podcast show I mentioned briefly last fall. I really want to talk to scientists, mostly climate scientists, about the state of their science, and the state of the world. Climate change seems to me to be the most important subject in, perhaps, the history of civilization, and we are doing essentially nothing to try and solve it. And those working the hardest aren't getting heard from enough. The Chris Horner's of the world go on all kinds of sympathetic venues where they spread a skeptical message, all along avoiding any hard questions by real interviewers with real knowledge. I'd love to interview him, if he's willing to entertain a few honest questions. But most of all I want to interview the real scientists producing the real science.

I also want to let scientists talk about science. There is a terrible dearth of understanding about science in this country, and it's seriously harming us. Some scientists talking about what attracted them to science in the first place can't hurt. Nobody is personalizing them.

So I'm going to seriously cut back on blogging and setting up a podcast shop, perhaps someday to be a video shop. I don't know how I'll afford this -- I'm applying for some grants here and there. (If you or your organization have an interest in a partial sponsorship, please contact me.) The main cost isn't the Web space, but some of the Web programming and especially the ~ 1 day/week preparing to do a decent interview.

We'll see how that goes. I'm just trying to stay ahead of the future. After a few years of this, and after my beautiful cat Eli passes, I'm going to get a dog and a pickup truck with a camper bed in the back and travel around, with a laptop and WiFi and just two changes of clothes, writing about everything I see -- especially all the labs, department projects, and undercovered scientists I can possibly visit.


PS: Wow, I can't believe that after all these years none of my regular readers has anything to say about the demise (?) of blogging, or maybe just of my blogging, or of the potential role for a weekly podcast of interviews with scientists. Or do I just look weird here? Or have I cried wolf too many times?


Steve Bloom said...

I don't use RSS and so just saw this post. As you're not a daily poster I don't tend to check in daily, which is consistent with one of the points you're making. Unless a blog has some unique characteristic, e.g. like RealClimate, frequent posting seems essential to high traffic. Plus while of course it's a good thing that there are now a fair number of journalist blogs with a climate focus, it becomes harder to stand out in the crowd.

Everything else you say makes perfect sense. The only (and probably obvious) suggestion I would make is to talk to the Climate Central folks about your plans, as there seems to be good potential for synergy and they're new enough to still have some flexibility. Maybe do a "pilot" for them?

I would also suggest that for any future posts of substance you arrange to cross-post to HuffPo or a similar outlet, which will at least guarantee eyeballs. Regardless, please do keep this blog going, even if it's just for the occasional squib. If nothing else I'd like to be able to track the progress of your podcast/video efforts.

BTW, as I type this I have an elderly cat in my lap, from the sound of it probably with fewer miles to go than yours. Give Eli a pet for me.

rhhardin said...

I seldom check in (just to see if you've changed your mind on global warming yet).

I liked the old blog, which had lively comments activity.

It seems to me the commercial appeal of climate change is pretty much gone now. Maybe science will take over, and maybe it won't. It depends on how curiosity goes on the matter, like everything science takes up.

Science isn't a guy in a lab coat; it's somebody curious about something. A lot of money recently has gone into lab coats.

Well good luck! It's never too soon to get a dog. I recommend Vicki Hearne Adam's Task, the introduction and essays on Washoe and How To Say Fetch, to whet the curiousity.

As to active blogs, try Althouse; the good part being the comments usually. They need a coherent lefty there.

Incomewise, branch out. Anything that's worth more to somebody else than it's worth to you is a source of income. Division of labor is what makes that possible. You can specialize; just do it on something somebody wants.

Hank Roberts said...

Another irregular regular reader here, and I've found your site invaluable. I hope you'll make sure that it stays up for those of us who've linked to it from postings made elsewhere.

I'm not a blogger, I just read and comment in other people's blogs (I believe this is technically called the "cuckoo blogger" strategy).

Anonymous said...

It's odd because when I visit QS (and I have on and off for years) what I read in invariably interesting, entertaining and informative. But, I don't visit very often. Why is this?

Well, you had a time not to long ago when you stopped posting, and people stop checking for posts.

But, I'm interested in climate, so I visit RC, eli, Stoat (less than I did), Deltoid, UK climate forums then (and here is another part of the why) 'Watts Up' (I've given up on CA - it's lost in a mire of irrelevance and obsession of it's own making). Now we get closer to the answer?

If I'm honest the internet is lazy, and I suspect I am as well. Users don't have to study, they can pick and choose. So, I pick WU not because I learn but because I'm aghast at the aggro, and the sheer ignorance - it's compellingly awful. Why that is compelling and not reading what I agree with and learning from it I don't know. Does chit chat have more of an appeal? Or is really getting to grips with a subject hard? The latter? Are blogs entertainment? I think so. They do need a back and forth.

But, one thing I do notice is a decrease of 'back and forth' on blogs. Most comments at CA or WUWT are supportive. Likewise at RC or Eli's. I suspect WUWT keep busy because it's updated several times a day with the kind of food it's audience like, and of course they're bitter because they lost :) - but it is part of what you need to do to get mass readership? That said, people do seem to be avoiding debate - or, rather, they've been bludgeoned enough. The climate really does need to change, in more than one way, for this to change I suspect, for overall readership to increase

I also think QS as a name might be missed by some of it's potential audience and I've found it to be a rather 'narrow' site to read.

But, I do really hope you continue to post because I always enjoy what I read and a lot of the 'That's dead right!' stuff I've read has been here.