In Praise of Infrequent Bloggers
When you start a blog, one thing everyone tells you is to post frequently. The idea is to keep your readers in the habit of checking back daily for new content. I obviously haven’t followed this advice, but I think it’s outdated in any case. These days people don’t read their favorite blogs by typing in the web address — they see new entries via an RSS reader, an email subscription, or a Facebook or Twitter feed. And with content that’s popular in your peer group, even this is increasingly unnecessary; for example, I no longer feel like I have to follow XKCD myself, because whenever it’s any good, I can count on one of my friends sharing it.
In this environment, I find that frequent bloggers actually get annoying pretty fast, and I’ve been dropping them one by one from my Google Reader as the unread posts back up. I’d rather see the same number of daily posts by following a large number of occasional bloggers — people who post once a week, once a month or even less. For one thing, it makes for a lot more day-to-day variety in who I’m reading. Also, they invariably have some other day job, so they’re not constantly combing the internet looking for new stories and memes to comment on — which means that when they do post, it’s often because they actually have something to say. And since they tend to have a smaller following, I’m more likely to see things that I haven’t already seen in my friends’ shares, and find things to share with them that they haven’t already seen.
These kinds of blogs can be hard to dig up, so let me offer some of my favorites:
John Crowley is a writer and Yale professor whose blog I found after reading his cult novel Little, Big. Short, pithy posts on grammatical oddities, things he’s researching for his books, and news stories about other people named John Crowley.
Last Plane to Jakarta is the blog of John Darnielle, singer of the Mountain Goats and martial arts enthusiast, wherein he ignores both of these subjects and instead reviews obscure heavy metal albums in free verse form. No, I am not making this up.
Little Brown Mushroom seems to be a small press founded by art photographer Alec Soth. Highlights various new photography books and projects (their own and others) that I wouldn’t have otherwise heard about.
Interfluidity (Steve Randy Waldman) — at some point I realized that there’s no need to follow each online debate among Paul Krugman, Tyler Cowen and other economics pundits, because if I wait long enough, Waldman will write a definitive essay that synthesizes everyone’s arguments, explains the whole issue in clear, humane terms, and leaves nothing left to say.
Dogcaught — beautiful photography from rail buffs in the Pacific Northwest.
Of course, if infrequency is the goal, it follows that the perfect blogger is one who never posts anything at all. To that end, I offer you this anonymous poet, who has been silent now for over six years despite the hundreds of desperate comments on his final cryptic post. I’m not giving up.
If you have a favorite infrequent blogger, please link to them in the comments or drop me an email. I may update this post in the future or write a follow-up list as I accumulate new entries.