What I’ve learned from six years of blogging

Last week was this weblog’s sixth anniversary.  A lot has happened during this time — children being born, children growing up, books being written, tenure being denied, promotions being given, baseball teams shocking the world, me turning forty, audiences waxing and waning, etc.  I was going to write a long, contemplative essay on the significance ...

Last week was this weblog's sixth anniversary.  A lot has happened during this time -- children being born, children growing up, books being written, tenure being denied, promotions being given, baseball teams shocking the world, me turning forty, audiences waxing and waning, etc.  I was going to write a long, contemplative essay on the significance of blogging for this long and how it's changed me.  This is a blog, however.  So, instead, a few bullet points tapped out while everyone else in the house is sleeping: My fastball ain't what it used to be.  Compared to other bloggers I read, I'm not keeping up the pace and depth of my blog posts (sorry about that --fewer free lunches for you!).  This is for a lot of reasons.  First, a lot of top bloggers are professionals -- i.e., they are paid to blog.  It's just really, really tough to compete as a generalist when the division of labor kicks in.*  Second, I have a lot more day job responsibilities than I did in the past, and I'm very comfortable with putting the blog at the bottom of the list.  Third, my children are walking and talking now, which makes them more interesting (and time-consuming).  And fourth.... I've screwed up a lot.  There are some big, big issues that I've gotten wrong in my blogging.  I supported the invasion of Iraq and that hasn't gone so well.  I opposed a surge in Iraq and that has turned out better than I thought.  I've gotten a lot of stuff right too, but in my mind the screw-ups are what stand out.  On the other hand, this has been good, because.... I'm a bit better at avoiding some blog traps.  Blogs call for instant analysis, but after six years at this I'm concluding that there are times when it's a virtue to not expressing an immediate opinion.  For example, I'm very glad I was too busy to post about the Russian-Georgian conflict when it first broke out.  Why?  Because the immediate blog debate was over who was to blame for the conflict, which was not terribly interesting.  I thought it distracted many from the "what happens now?" questions that are much more salient.  Posting too early can also cause a blogger to lock in their opinions before enough information is on the table (this, by the way, is why I'm holding off on blogging about the bailout -- I need more information).  The blog has been a godsend to my day job.  I've chronicled why here, but the basic point is that all aspects of my job have been facilitated by maintaining this site.  Thanks for the comments!  For six months the comments feature on this blog was broken.  I quite enjoyed that for the first few weeks -- much less energy devoted to dealing with trolls and spam.  Since the new software has been installed, however, I've been enjoying and learning from the downthread discussions.  So thank you, dear readers, for stopping by -- and for coming back.  *Also, let's face it, if I have any faith in markets I have to presume that professional bloggers possess a comparative advantage in blogging relative to your humble blogger.   

Last week was this weblog’s sixth anniversary.  A lot has happened during this time — children being born, children growing up, books being written, tenure being denied, promotions being given, baseball teams shocking the world, me turning forty, audiences waxing and waning, etc.  I was going to write a long, contemplative essay on the significance of blogging for this long and how it’s changed me.  This is a blog, however.  So, instead, a few bullet points tapped out while everyone else in the house is sleeping:

  • My fastball ain’t what it used to be.  Compared to other bloggers I read, I’m not keeping up the pace and depth of my blog posts (sorry about that –fewer free lunches for you!).  This is for a lot of reasons.  First, a lot of top bloggers are professionals — i.e., they are paid to blog.  It’s just really, really tough to compete as a generalist when the division of labor kicks in.*  Second, I have a lot more day job responsibilities than I did in the past, and I’m very comfortable with putting the blog at the bottom of the list.  Third, my children are walking and talking now, which makes them more interesting (and time-consuming).  And fourth….
  • I’ve screwed up a lot.  There are some big, big issues that I’ve gotten wrong in my blogging.  I supported the invasion of Iraq and that hasn’t gone so well.  I opposed a surge in Iraq and that has turned out better than I thought.  I’ve gotten a lot of stuff right too, but in my mind the screw-ups are what stand out.  On the other hand, this has been good, because….
  • I’m a bit better at avoiding some blog traps.  Blogs call for instant analysis, but after six years at this I’m concluding that there are times when it’s a virtue to not expressing an immediate opinion.  For example, I’m very glad I was too busy to post about the Russian-Georgian conflict when it first broke out.  Why?  Because the immediate blog debate was over who was to blame for the conflict, which was not terribly interesting.  I thought it distracted many from the “what happens now?” questions that are much more salient.  Posting too early can also cause a blogger to lock in their opinions before enough information is on the table (this, by the way, is why I’m holding off on blogging about the bailout — I need more information). 
  • The blog has been a godsend to my day job.  I’ve chronicled why here, but the basic point is that all aspects of my job have been facilitated by maintaining this site. 
  • Thanks for the comments!  For six months the comments feature on this blog was broken.  I quite enjoyed that for the first few weeks — much less energy devoted to dealing with trolls and spam.  Since the new software has been installed, however, I’ve been enjoying and learning from the downthread discussions.  So thank you, dear readers, for stopping by — and for coming back. 

*Also, let’s face it, if I have any faith in markets I have to presume that professional bloggers possess a comparative advantage in blogging relative to your humble blogger.   

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at Tufts University’s Fletcher School. He blogged regularly for Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2014. Twitter: @dandrezner

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