Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
January 31, 2007 9:31 PM

"Only The Lonely Write Blogs, Prof Says" - From The Cover Of Today's Montreal Gazette

I'm in Toronto having breakfast when my mobile rings and I'm asked: "did you see The Montreal Gazette today? There's a story on the cover that says, 'Only the lonely write Blogs.'"

I had only one response: "Yeah, it's lonely at the top."

Maybe I was tired. Maybe it was my standard cynicism. Maybe it was the truth.

I had to grin and bear it until I could get my hands on a copy of the article at the airport terminal. I had a bunch of thoughts in mind, but thought best to read the piece first before jumping to any conclusions (how old school journalist is that?).

The article is below-the-fold on today's cover of The Montreal Gazette. It's under the Psychology Of Cyberspace heading and the title is "Only the lonely write blogs, prof says - People who keep weblogs are isolated and withdrawn, author contends."

The statement is from a Calgary professor, Michael Keren, who has authored a book called, Blogosphere: The New Political Arena

Here's another gem of content from Keren:

"Many Bloggers are isolated, lonely and withdrawn, choosing to form virtual relationships instead of the real thing. Bloggers think of themselves as rebels against mainstream society, but that rebellion is mostly confined to cyberspace, which makes Blogging as melancholic and illusionary as Don Quixote tilting at windmills."

(don't feel bad, I also had to hop over to Wikipedia to understand that comparison).

I don't know about you, but I would hardly describe myself - or most of the other Bloggers I know - as lonely, isolated or withdrawn. In fact, quite the opposite. Through the power of Blogs, I've met, connected and become friends with more people than ever before. It has been an incredible tool to connect me to many different types of communities which include: Bloggers, Podcasters, Marketers, Advertising, Communications and Public Relations Professionals to name a few. I wonder if Keren can wrassle up forty people to a Geek Dinner or create an Unconference and muster up over three hundred people who found out about those events via his book?

How about this quote from Keren:

"Many are writing a sermon no one is going to hear."

Hey, Michael Keren, lean in when you read this, because I really want your attention: This Blog gets over twenty-thousand unique visitors a month - and that doesn't include people who are grabbing it through RSS subscription feeds or the thousands of downloads the Six Pixels of Separation - The Twist Image Podcast gets. I have a hunch that more people will visit this Blog in one month than the total number of sales of your book, globally... ever.

That ain't ego talking. It's reality.

I think it's easy to make a grand statement like Keren did - he has to do something to get PR and sell his book. It's just too bad he did it at the expense of some of the greatest minds ever to put their thoughts down on a Blog. Something also tells me that he might be getting the last laugh: how many other authors would like to get the cover of The Montreal Gazette?

I'm frustrated that stories like this get front page attention when we all know the truth: great minds (and real authors) who leverage this new channel to test out new theories, families who pull together and raise awareness for a tragic disease, people who connect with others and build social activism and yes, Michael, lonely people who finally have a voice and a place to share who they are and what matters to them in a world that can be very cold and cruel. If a Blog helps them connect to a community, that's also about as far away from loneliness and isolation as I can imagine possible.

There's a very simple way to prove Michael Keren wrong: spread the word far and wide to everyone you can and tell them to not buy his book, Blogosphere: The New Political Arena. I mean, if he's right, who will take the word of someone lonely, isolated and withdrawn?

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Very interesting! Now, the question is, whose book SHOULD be buy? I'm in the middle of Steve Krug's "Don't Make Me Think" second edition. What's on your nightstand?

    Reply
  • Posted by Mitch Joel
    Mitch Joel

    I have on mine:

    1. Citizen Marketer.
    2. What Sticks.
    3. Made To Stick,

    Funny enough, I bought What Sticks thinking it was Made To Stick, so I went back to get Made To Stick and they're both sweet.

    Lucky me.

    Reply
  • Posted by Donna Papacosta
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch, I saw this article in the Globe and Mail (I believe) and dismissed it as coming from someone who lumped all bloggers together. Obviously we are not all cut from the same cloth. As a business blogger/podcaster, I have made MORE connections through blogging than I have from in-person networking. This is NOT something covered by this so-called expert!

    Reply
  • On Tuesday night I shared dinner and drinks with C.C. Chapman, Dan Gorgone, Steve Garfield, Chris Brogan, Michael Bailey, Jeff Persch, and Indigo Tabor' -- most of whom I first met online. And you know some of the things we talked about? Our kids. Music we like. How Michael's MobaTalk service is helping a man play audio messages to his sick wife, and how it's helping teachers and students.

    Good talk among friends ... who just happened to first meet online. As much as I enjoy the online connections, nothing beats the face-to-face meetups. Any of us from that night would say the same.

    So, Keren, no, we're not all lonely souls blogging in our mothers' basements. Many of us just happen to be very good at turning online connections into meaningful friendships. That's something to be proud of, I say.

    Best of luck with your book, Keren. I won't be buying a copy.

    Reply
  • Oh, and the Financial Aid Podcast (with its associated blog) is sad, lonely, isolated and withdrawn, absolutely. Oh wait, actually, that's the pile of cash the blog and podcast have made. That sits in a bank vault, which I'd imagine is pretty lonely and isolated - as it should be.

    Reply
  • Posted by Sulemaan
    Mitch Joel

    With all due respect mon ami. Please don't bring this up in future blog postings / podcasts / conversations again. Every time you do, you give him recognition. And another book is sold.

    Heck, I've wasted time talking about it! Enough already - his 15 mins/megs of fame are up. Let him force students to buy his book as part of the curriculum.

    Bloggers don't need to provide metrics or justify themselves to anyone. Ignore him and he will go away into the night. Michael who? Exactly.

    Reply
  • Posted by Bob Goyetche
    Mitch Joel

    I came out from under the table just long enough to read this post.

    I've met so many great people since I started blogging/podcasting.. It's wonderful to be this lonely.

    http://www.bobgoyetche.com/?p=167

    Reply
  • Posted by Bernie Goldbach
    Mitch Joel

    If Michael Keren's hypothesis is correct about the blogosphere being populated by the lonely, then the number of blog posts at night should be greater than the number made during the day. Techmeme should have a higher flow after hours on weekends than during the weekdays. And podcasters like you would record only at night.

    It's possible Michael Keren's slice of reality is just like this, explaining his perspective and conclusion.

    Over on my Irish blog, I'll give Michael Keren the respect of a post bearing his name. It will be interesting to see him ego-surfing for his name and finding a blog post about him having higher visibility than his own writing.

    Reply
  • Posted by Michel Leblanc
    Mitch Joel

    I wrote about the exact same thing. I do feel I am a sort of Don Quixote, but lonelly, melancholic, illusionary and making speaches that nobody is going to hear? Well, that is completelly over the board...

    Reply
  • What I'd like to know is: Why does an editor from The Montreal Gazette pick that article to go on the front page of the paper? From a newspaper industry perspective, it could be construed as self-serving and I have issues with that...

    Reply
  • Posted by Kevin Behringer
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch:

    If blogging is only for the lonely, I would never have met/talked to you. There's very little chance our paths would have ever crossed. Instead, I have learned so much from you that I probably would have not learned!

    Does it feel sometimes like I'm writing my blog in isolation and no one's reading. Sure, but that's because I haven't gotten to your level yet. But, the connections I've made online have more than proven the power of these new media to me.

    Keep up the great work!

    Reply
  • Posted by Nico
    Mitch Joel

    It was great to meet you and all the rest of the people i met in Canada on my trip there. But what do i know, i'm so lonely...

    Reply
  • Posted by Julia
    Mitch Joel

    I am definitely shy and intraverted, couldn't you tell? Conversation on my blog is drab and dull for shizzle.

    If you ask me Michael Keren needs a RELAXative.

    Julia Stein a.k.a Brown sista

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    I didn't read the article but I'd be curious to know how many active bloggers (i.e. posting on a daily basis) run their own business (or have a full time job) AND are married with children (spending time with them) AND meet with friends on a regular basis AND do volunteer work AND are physically active (working out, etc.). My guess: 5-10% (maximum).

    It would be interesting to do a survey on this (although the results could be as accurate as those online dating profiles)...

    Maki

    Reply
  • Posted by Eden Spodek
    Mitch Joel

    I've read lots of posts and comments but haven't read the article either.

    Like most people who have commented above, I've met a lot of interesting people through blogging who I wouldn't have met otherwise.

    To Maki's point here are the answers to his "survey" and they are accurate:
    I blog and post on a daily basis and work full time; I'm married with two kids and spend LOTS of time with them; I volunteer for AIMS and two schools; and, I work out. Unfortunately, I'm not active as I'd like to be these days but that's because it's freezing cold outside.

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    Eden,

    Thanks for sharing, but I cannot take your single "answer" as a market research finding... I'd need a bigger sampling! And in case you missed it, I said that in my guestimate people like you (with family, etc. etc.) represent only 5-10% of the daily bloggers (maximum). After all, there are only so many hours in a day...

    Also, Mitch you're saying that "this Blog gets over twenty-thousand unique visitors a month - and that doesn’t include people who are grabbing it through RSS subscription feeds or the thousands of downloads the Six Pixels of Separation – The Twist Image Podcast gets. I have a hunch that more people will visit this Blog in one month than the total number of sales of your book, globally… ever"

    Although I find your blog rather interesting and informative (unlike the vast majority of the blogs out there) I wonder if you'd get the same stats had your blog required a monthly membership fee. I'm saying this because you are comparing your stats with a book that someone would pay in order to read (we're not talking about a free ebook, are we?)

    That said, I do believe in blogs; they are a great tool in building (real) communities. In fact, my company (Community-online.com) will soon announce a rather innovative service that will enable community stakeholders to share their thoughts via Community Blogs.

    Reply
  • Posted by Mitch Joel
    Mitch Joel

    Hi Maki.

    I don't think it's an issue of if someone will pay or not. I think it's an issue of audience and interest. My point is that I don't think Keren will be able to get the attention of 20,000 people to be interested in his book.

    I also went to YULBlog last night - a gathering of Montreal Bloggers. I would say there were over 50 people mixing, mingling and probably hooking up.

    Doesn't sound very lonely to me.

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    Hey Joel,

    I agree that it's an issue of audience and interest. However , in order to compare "apples to apples" one should compare (in this case) two *books* with different viewpoints.

    So, the question is: when should we expect a book from you?

    Reply
  • Posted by Mitch Joel
    Mitch Joel

    It's being written as we speak... so hang tight :)

    Reply
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