I learnt recently about a technique of online community management called "speed bumping" whereby users are prevented from posting comments more than once every few minutes. The result is that whilst reducing the sheer number of posts, it also encourages more intelligent, thought-through contributions, and less entries that consist solely of either TLAs (three-letter acronyms) or bizarre combinations of punctuation marks ;-) (LOL).
I've been hoping that this might be the effect on my blog due to the indefinite inaccessibility to a laptop in the wee small hours (incidentally, Blogger doesn't work with my Nokia N70 despite my previous positive posts). Theory was less quantity, more quality. In actual fact, I can't help but feel that it's had more of a negative effect - I'm finding this first post in over a week much tougher to compose.
Perhaps it's because quality of blogging has been on my mind since Rachel Cooke's article in The Observer last Sunday "Who's to judge? Better an eminent critic than a daft blogger" about bloggers being oh-so-wrong about Snakes on a Plane and other shit films that daft bloggers have made a fuss about.
Personally I'm a bit tired of the argument about whether journalists and critics are better writers and judges that bloggers - of course they are. Most journalists who earn any kind of living have to fight through an enormous amount of competition, may have a training/education in their chosen sphere, are likely to have amazing amounts of experience and unquestionably better prose styles than your average blogger. On top of this, the professional hack has a commissioning editor to confirm what they're writing about is worthwhile, subbing teams to pick up their split infinitives and editors and designers to aid presentation and layout.
But this article and some mainstream press miss the point about why it's ok for people to get excited about crap films like [m*therf*ckin'] Snakes on a [m*therf*ckin'] Plane.
In a media landscape where there is an embarassment of content riches to be had, what you need is relevance - not just relevance to the task in hand (where Google cleaned up) or to your particular industry (digg, Media Guardian) but also relevance to your life and tastes. It's why I know that a bunch of you are still reading my views on blogging (you're the work people) and why hopefully the rest of you are still reading (you're the people that like me - oh yes, you do, don't even try to deny it). Most bloggers only ever write for a bunch of friends and/or close colleagues as I do (great US report from a few months back on this here).
A lot of the content "long tail" is shit, if your definition of "shit" is never forming part of any canon or even appealing to the majority. But then, is there nothing that you love in your life that does not stand up to critical scrutiny?
I, for example, will always treasure the memory of Rupert Everett's performance of his first (and only?) single "Generation of Loneliness" on the Wogan chat show. (Had I just managed to find it on Youtube I may have ripped my top off in the office.) Others, possibly including Rupert himself, may cringe at the thought of it. But he was my ultimate pin-up during my teenage years and anything that he was involved with I consumed with a ridiculous amount of subjectivity (although seriously, he was robbed of a career as an international pop sensation).
Similarly I will endure sentences with the poorest construction in the world ever and even; the misuse of punctuation in some blog entries! As have you. Because the writers themselves are interesting and relevant to my work, my life or my beliefs. Bloggers may appear to be a barmy army, but mostly they're just people keen to share their particular interests and passions - Samuel L Jackson starring in ludicrous movies being one of them that quite a few shared.
Writers should stop worrying about lunatic bloggers taking over the media asylum, and think of them as more akin to influential pressure groups - sometimes crazy, sometimes a little over-excited about the power they may or may not wield, but always relevant and valid to a certain group of people and on the whole an excellent conduit for ideas and opinions to surface.
Note to self: worry less, post more.