In Response to Link Blogging

I’m blown away with the response I’ve gotten on The Linkblogging Cancer. The biggest complement I can get is that it caused a writer I respect to think about their own work. I did, however want to clarify some points that I made.

Marco Arment wrote a great follow up, telling me not to blame the linkblog:

Blaming the format itself for link-blog overload is like blaming Canon for the deluge of mediocre SLR photography over the last decade. The tools are now available to everyone, which is great. Most people won’t become world-class users of these tools, but the surplus of mediocre output doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for more people who can be truly great at it — it just means that most people’s link blogs aren’t worth following.

I completely agree – a tool does not make the creator, and we can’t blame bad blogging on the medium of link blogs. I love many link blogs – I even write one!

The argument I was trying to make was that your blog, taken as a whole, should tell a story. Jim Dalrymple phrased it in an interesting way:

To me blogging is about honesty and personality. I hate reading something that is just bland words with no feeling or conviction. I want to know how the writer feels about the subject they are writing about.

It’s about letting your voice come through. Jim himself constantly posts a headline and a link – but taken as a whole, there’s no doubt that his voice comes through! I’ve spoken with him a few times, and that is exactly how he talks. A perfect example is his Bullshit link from a couple of days ago.

Often times, we’re afraid to let our voice come through because it puts us out there for criticism and failure. You have to have thick skin on the web to write, and we can’t always please everyone.

As writers and in our lives, we should take a stance and have an opinion. Maybe it’s wrong, maybe people won’t like it – but maybe a small group of people will. This ranges from what we talk and write about all the way to what we make. Our software should have an opinion. Our designs should have an opinion.

The failure of linkblogging isn’t the linking itself – it’s that the medium makes it easy to get lazy. We can just to throw up 5 or 10 interesting links without thinking twice and kid ourselves into thinking our readers are getting value.

In a way, I meant my piece as a complement to the sites I read – at some point you wrote something that I found interesting, enough so that your site never got pruned from my RSS feed. You have an opinion, but maybe your voice isn’t always coming through1.

  1. As a sidenote: I can honestly say that I never intended to call out any specific sites – many of my online friends have link blogs themselves. This was more a piece for each of us to think on. I’m the first one to admit that I struggle with always having a voice – I’ve often thrown up a few links without thinking twice. []
August 10, 2012