MiniMediaGuy: Something to say, or just the need to say something?Â
This blogÂ debuted in January 2005Â with aÂ purpose in mind:Â toÂ organize media producersÂ into legal cooperatives to help themÂ get better pay forÂ creating contentÂ just asÂ farmers have banded together to sellÂ fruits, nuts and grains.
Alas, this idea has gatheredÂ noÂ support. The Knight 21st Century ChallengeÂ and J-Lab, have rejected my pleas forÂ grants. That is notÂ surprising nor discouraging given how manyÂ applyÂ relative to thoseÂ few whoÂ are chosen. More demoralizingÂ is theÂ absence of attention toÂ postingsÂ in which I have outlinedÂ the potentialÂ benefits of a media producers’ coop: groupÂ health insurance; a forum to meetÂ collaborators; andÂ an agentÂ to negotiateÂ better terms for independent media makers. (Here is a link to the first of three postings on that idea.)
So latelyÂ I’ve begun toÂ wonder: WhyÂ have I spentÂ roughly 90 minutesÂ per workdayÂ writing upwards of 700 postings over the last three years?
It ain’tÂ for the traffic. Awstats, the statistical package that comes with my WordPress installation,Â counted justÂ under 105,000 unique visitors toÂ MiniMediaGuy.org in 2007. While that’sÂ roughly double theÂ 50,036 visitorsÂ recordedÂ in 2006, I’d have to drawÂ 100,000 uniques per month to generate commerically meaningful traffic.
It also ain’t for the conversation, which is the mythic goal of blogging.Â WordPress has countedÂ 310 comments over the last two years — versus 82,253 spamsÂ that were blocked by the filtering program,Â Askimet. That signal-to-noise ratio suggests that MiniMediaGuy.orgÂ is little more thanÂ a convenientÂ place from which toÂ advertise unwanted crap.
So why persist? Well, it must be obvious thatÂ I am stubborn to the point of contrariness and also posessed of a foolish pride that imaginesÂ I can both discern things not obvious to others andÂ then persuade them toÂ adopt, or consider, my views.Â Â Given theÂ aforementioned mathematical evidence it could be argued thatÂ I am also delusional.
I seeÂ MiniMediaGuy.org in a nobler light. I love to write.Â Â Like the bus driver who takesÂ car trips on weekends, I spend my spare time doing what I get paid to do at my day job.Â I find facts, discover patterns and link ideas in amusing or logical ways. WhatÂ greater satisfactionÂ is possible forÂ a human being than to write?Â Not eating. Not running a marathon. Not even hotÂ sweaty sex.Â Those are animal pleasures. As humansÂ we shouldÂ set the bar higher. We shouldÂ exercise that trait which makesÂ usÂ unique. Cogito ergo sum.Â More than four centuries have passed since DescartesÂ coined thatÂ phrase butÂ the truth remains.Â We think therefore we are.Â Writing is thought given shape. We are the first humans to have the ability to share our thoughts so effortlessly and easily on a global scale.Â To me the realÂ questionÂ is why are there only 50 million bloggers when there are a billion people with Internet access? What is preventing the rest of the race from demonstrating their humanness in this simple way?
Of course I may hold writing in too high an esteem. The economy seems to be devaluing paid prose. Why pay when someone, somewhere, will post the content for free? EvenÂ my philosophical pretensions are undermined by writers of greater accomplishment. In his 1946Â essay, “Why I Write,” George Orwell said “forÂ all one knows that demon is simply the same instinct that makes a baby squall for attention.”
IÂ think better of my efforts. I imagine myself among the cohort that is changing the world.Â Thousands upon millions ofÂ bloggers haveÂ begun toÂ take media into their own hands. They’re learning howÂ toÂ uncover facts,Â correct falsehoods, tell storiesÂ and create communities for change.Â This gradual expansionÂ of media power has the potential to extend democracy. I say potential because I do not believe in inevitability.Â Most people use the InternetÂ as aÂ gigantic juke boxÂ orÂ vending machine. It is possible, perhaps evenÂ likely, thatÂ Web will mutate theÂ couch potatoÂ into theÂ two-legged sloth that gets its amusementsÂ notÂ from the stationary television butÂ from the mobileÂ phone.
Nevertheless for stubbornness if nothing elseÂ I continue to believe thatÂ MiniMediaGuy.org contributes to some higher purpose. And when I am bitten by doubt –Â such as now, withÂ little to show for three years of effort–Â what worries me inot Orwell’s baby remark. To me childishness is quitting the hikeÂ just because you can’t see over the hill. Instead, my worries revolve aroundÂ something my dadÂ used to say when I wasÂ a boy.
“Thomas,” he would tell me,Â “There are some people who have something to say, and some people who have to say something.”
And now he is dead and IÂ don’t knowÂ whether he wouldÂ consider me one of the former, or the latter or, more likely, a bit of both.