I just read through my daily dose of blogs in my aggregator and scanned the email from people asking / telling me to blog stuff. I realized that there are a great number of things that I would have posted to my blog a year ago, but I won't now. I have argued a number of times that this is my blog and if you don't like it don't read it. However, as I read criticisms in the comments and on other blogs about what I write, I have become increasingly sensitive about what I say here. The criticism is often valid. "Check your facts before you post." "Read before you write." "Don't be so self-obsessed." "That was stupid." "The tone of your post was offensive to me." "So this guy posts every time he's 'off' to somewhere new. Is he boasting about his travel?" I know it shouldn't, but these voices yap at me in my head and cause a kind of chilling effect. I fear that my jokes will be misinterpreted and the irony lost. I fear that someone will take offense. I fear that a post will sound boastful.

Of course, this is just a rehash of an old discussion of collapsing contexts, but I find myself struggling with this bloggers block more and more these days. I find myself hanging out on the IRC channel chatting about things that in the past I would be blogging about. I definitely feel like my blog is going edgy to broad and boring.

What do you think? (And to be clear, I'm not fishing for compliments here.) Do you think I should post silly and sometimes no-so-well-developed posts or do you think this rigor of taking more responsibility and being more politically correct is a good thing? In a way, this bloggers block could be viewed as a developing bloggers ethic in my head and something normal and good.

107 Comments

I've gone back and forth with the same thing- often assuming I don't need to blog it because someone else already did. The problem that led to was I would be talking to people who read my blog but not all the blogs I read and wouldn't have the frame of reference. I've started posting about silly things again and I kind of dig it.

This is *your* blog and *your* tool for expressing yourself. Therefore you should post the things that *you* find interesting.

I personally find it helpful when you post "I'm off to ... " -- it gives me a clue to see if I can track you down for something. So that's worthwhile, even if only for one person.

I've always struggled with the question of what to post. Do I post this or will it bother my readers? I ask myself that a lot and in some sense it good to see a seasoned blogger like yourself asking the same question.

I think you should post silly things. I think you should post not-so-well-thought out pieces -- perhaps it would be good to stick a disclaimer on the half-baked posts, to avoid a large chunk of comments telling you you're half baked.

Another thing to consider is that something that is not-so-well-thought-out in your world could very well be earth shattering in someone else's world. And, these types of posts could also be vetted by your readers and by the time people have read and commented, it may not be so half-baked anymore.

Don't let the people with baseless negativity put a kink in your style. I realize that having something badmouth your thoughts and your work is painful. But opening your mind up to the world will invite that, and that is the painful truth. Regardless, I would be glad to see you work out a way to take the positive comments to heart and just let the negative comments slide.

This is intensely difficult and something that I may need to work on for the rest of my life. But in the end, I think the world is a better place for a few intelligent people doing this and opening their minds for all to see.

Please keep it up Joi!

Joi,
This is Peter over at Aging Disgracefully (I have responded to your comment there). I think my post might be one of the ones you are referring to. The answer to your question, in my view, is yes: you should keep posting as you do. First off, even the most carefully crafted arguments are still not beyond criticism (to see this, read about the career of Heckman, a genious whose achievements I obviously admire: he has also frequently been at the center of a storm of controversy-not everyone is enamored of his approach to social policy evaluation).

Secondly, sometimes an outrageous suggestion has to be thrown out to stimulate useful discussion. In the past, I have strongly objected to what you have said on some subjects (eg the behavior of US troops on the fronts in Iraq, intellectual property rights etc.). However, the discussion your comments stimulated was very useful to all involved. And that really is a global public good, given the nature of the internet.

Third, you have a quality more often more important to stimulating intellectual exchange than careful, for instance, fact checking: generosity. You respect and take seriously other people's opinions. One reason I have reacted so strongly in the past to MostlyVowels, who often leaves comments on your blog, is less his (or her) positions than his or her style: utterly arrogant and contemptuous in the extreme, but often essentially a bluff (his or her suggestion in an earlier discussion that his or her postion on intellectual property rights was supported by NBER was total bullshit and the tone with which he or she tried to maintain that position even after the bluff had clearly been called really grated on me). And maybe, throwing a bone to Mostly Vowels, I react so strongly to that approach because I probably have some tendencies in that direction myself. The point is this (and it is probably one Mostly Vowels could agree with): people like you have to initiate and then gently guide many discussions because people like Mostly Vowels or me would just turn it into a nasty screaming match.

Re-reading my post, it came across as more harsh than I had intended: my point isn't about whether what you do is worthwhile, it is more about an ongoing thought about celebrity in broader society and now on the internet as well.

I have noticed that this blog has shifted over the last few months from being more like boingboing to being more about things going on in your life. Not necessarily a bad thing though, just an observation.

i think the silly and not-so -rigorously edited posts are a defining characteristic of a good blog.

I know you read my criticism of your blog which I posted a month or so ago, but it seems to me you are becoming LESS self-absorbed the more I read. Say what you want. Ignore the criticism.

You can't really be seriously asking if you should become more politically correct can you? Tell me this is just a dry sense of humor at work.

No one gets my jokes - in fact they often don't even realize that I'm joking - but I don't let that stop me. Post what you like. Not doing so IS boring.

-Jack

There's only one you for all time.

Tell your story, nobody else is going to tell it better.

I don't know what it would be like to have as many readers as you do but I can relate to some of what you're feeling - any blogger with a regular audience can. It's a difficult and not altogether healthy thing for us to go online every day or so and publish our thoughts. Sometimes those thoughts (or news items) aren't all that worthwhile. Sometimes they aren't very well expressed, researched thought out. This is our difficulty as writers without editors. Sadly, the only editorial voice most of us has is the one in our head. And that voice, particularly the inner critic, isn't very helpful. Certainly the critical voice that gives you constructive feedback is useful.

You've been blogging for a while now. You've changed, the culture of blogging has changed, the audience has probably changed (given the increasing number of new bloggers every day who might blow into your blog and shoot some comment at you that is completely out of left field). I think it's good to give yourself some room to stretch, recalibrate and think about what you're doing with the blog. But I hope you'll not censor yourself because of your audience.

As you say, those who like it will keep reading it. Those who don't can find a blog that speaks to them. If the criticisms are coming from people you value and you're willing to let them influence your direction maybe you can think of them as your editorial board?

I personally feel the need for an editor every day. I'm lucky my partner is a writer and I can go to him and say "please read my post!". It goes both ways of course but I'm glad when he's able to say "Mel, that post is just boring. It's weird. It's like something Charles Crumb might write". I trust him because he understands me. People who are serious about blogging need to have a few folks who they trust and respect who can give them productive feedback. And you can do the same for them.

I'm not sure comments will provide that, maybe your IRC activities are the right spot.

Suggested reading:
Writing Down the Bones
Natalie Goldberg

This book is for creative writers but it's really a classic that every writer should read. Your concerns are mostly the concerns of a writer.
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0877733759/102-5161968-4636100?v=glance

It's also just a fun book to read. Who knows, maybe it will inspire you to write a novel or something too ;-)

I started to comment here, but it got too long. Posted thoughts on my own blog.

Joi,
Nikki told me recently that I am comming out of shell.
May be, you too.
Love,
Daddy

badger badger badger mushroom mushroom snake

I think of a personal website as "my space", my home place online. And just like my real home, people have no right to foist their expectations on what I do there. They can say what they want, but have no reason to be upset should I choose to ignore their comments.

And even as a desisgner, I find it dangerous to think too much about what the audience expects. It tends to lead you to give them what they expect, instead of what you feel they need.

My 2 cents.

Joi,

I think you should blog what engages you - what you think might help you (or others) by sparking conversation, setting up opportunities to catch up/meet up with people, etc.

I suspect that many people, perhaps yourself included, are shifting from a single voice to multiple voices. Besides this blog, you have wikis, IRC channel(s), email, various IM tools and numberous other outlets for communications. Your blog gets a certain set of people - in your case a fairly wide audience, significent trackbacks (and link forwards - i.e. your links likely generate traffic for sites linked). This is at least for the moment simply a fact - but how much (or how little) you dwell on it a matter of how important you judge that to be.

You might consider a tag or other indication to separate out "serious" posts from the less serious ones - I would personally suggest they are all still part of the same feed, but perhaps offer visual and/or alternate links to view just one or the other.

In general I would say post and correct later vs. don't post at all.

Oh, and I would second the suggestion for anything by Natalie Goldberg - especially "Writing down the bones" - I've given way almost a dozen copies of it, and have bought more copies of it for myself than any other book as I keep giving my copy away. A truly great and inspiring book about the Practice of writing (Practice in a Zen like sense of the word)

Oh and re the travels/boasting - I personally find it helpful and useful to see how people who are doing things do them - that is the peeling back of the curtain of everything from the VC process to boards to ICANN to other international events and decisionmaking bodies which blogs can offer.

You might, however, want to give people a bit more of a heads up when you are traveling - reminds people to try to catch up with you if you and they might want to do that.

Shannon

IJ,
I know a Tanuki, which was produced by a Momoko Usagi.
MI

I think it's all been said right here. Being yourself matters, and I have no qualms about delete-keying through an RSS feed.

Having said that, I notice that for the month of May so far I have moved 14 of your posts, including this one, into my Joi Ito "keeper" folder.

There you have it.

Love,

- Dennis

Joi, you don't know me and we may never meet, but I've been reading along for a while now, and I think you should post about whatever you want, whenever you want. Ignore the critics (likely they have crappy blogs anyway), and do this thing your way.

I like reading about your travels and your hometown and all the places you go and people you meet because that's never going to happen for me, so it's kind of a vicarious, but enjoyable experience to read about what you're doing.

It's your blog, so it's your party. Rock it however you like.

Joi, this is your space; do what you do best - be honest and be yourself. That's the Joi Ito I come to read, not what other people think you should be.

"... dance like no one's watching..."

Write whatever you want to write, man. This is your blog.

The reason I originally came to your site was because of your unique background. I was looking at an American style technologist/VC, who also happened to be Japanese. A man with his feet in both culture/tech hotspots at the same time. I was intrigued. When I first started coming, it seemed that 'blogging' was just one topic among many you'd talk about. Then, it seemed that's all you talked about (with just an occasional execption). This is when my interest dropped off. I've peeked in now and then (you're still in my RSS so I can keep tabs easily). But now it seems you do talk over much about this or that trip, this or that conference, this or that thinktank... I'm not ripping you, believe me, I like how you roll and what you are about, but your blog 'has' gotten too provincial to keep my interest.

Honestly, I don't think there's anything you can do about it. You've put yourself in somewhat rarified company, hence, the edgyness is probably being bled from you slowly without you realizing it (until now maybe). Yes, there are people here who will say, "dude, shut up. Joi rocks, and he's still edgy, and you're reading his site, blah, blah..." But I'm only commenting because you asked publicly. Otherwise I would have continued not visiting yoru site much without making any complaint at all about 'edgyness' or what have you.

The only public person I can think of who has a lot of money in play and is well connected and a technologist who blogs, is (I'm ashamed to say) Mark Cuban. He doesn't give a damn, and you can tell by what he writes. He takes risks on what he believes in, and his blog is exciting.

Considering your unique position of having one foot in the West and on in Japan, as well as channels to VC capital, I was expecting more exciting things from this blog. But really, you don't owe anybody anything. If you just keep being you, as you currently are, I think that rocks. If it makes for a boring blog, eh, so what. There are more than enough blogs to choose from. Peace!

Actually, my view could be condensed to pHatidic's when he/she said,

"I have noticed that this blog has shifted over the last few months from being more like boingboing to being more about things going on in your life. Not necessarily a bad thing though, just an observation."

I mean your life sounds cool and all, but it's not really the main why I became interested in your blog a couple of years ago.

Sure, it's your blog and you should write about what you want to. But I don't think that's the entire story. I think it's fair to wonder if the shift in your blog is due to a shift in your life, a shift in the readers you're imagining, or a shift in something else, like a realization that the more abstract/techy bits you talk about are or should be integrated into the more personal stream of your life (for example). I loved your blog back then and I love it now, and you sure as hell don't owe us an explanation, but I'm curious about what the shift tells us about you.

I get flames and criticism on TUAW all the time, and less on my personal blog, but still some. However, you have to keep in mind that there are lots of silent readers out there who remain silent because they are content and enjoy what you are writing. As for the ones who complain, that stirs readership, so it is all good. Don't avoid being honest and posting silly things when you are feeling silly or things apart from the political norm (or what someone thinks is the political norm). Honesty is the key to blogging, writing, and being human, and you're a human I enjoy reading regularly. Cheers.

please do continue to post silly-opinionated-not-well-thought through stuff. i for one love your blog for just that reason. this effortless funky mixture of fact and fiction, personal and professional, trendy and nostalgic is for me what defines "blogs". sets them appart of other media.
it does seem that the blogosphere has changed alot. stars have emerged, people have gone pro, a pyramid of influence has been built. not all blogs are equal any longer. some of the "famous" bloggers have changed their tone, their syntax, their rethoric. yours, of course a famous bloggers, has stayed refreshingly the same. your voice has weight, of course, because you are everywhere. and you deserve to be. but i love your rants, your silly snipplets, your irony. i still feel like having a beer with you would be a totally easy affair, while having one with certain other stars on the scene would make me all nervous...

Self-censoring your blog is almost like self-censoring your diary (as if anyone actually writes in those anymore). In a way, it's an attempt at self-deception ....

A blog is not the place to write the kind of stuff that you think people will like (start a webzine if you want to do that). A blog is the place where you write exactly the kind of stuff that you want to write.

You can't please everyone, so don't try. If they don't like it, why are they reading your blog in the first place? They can always unsubscribe.

"So this guy posts every time he's 'off' to somewhere new. Is he boasting about his travel?"

I'm subbed to your RSS and read it occasionally, but this dose bother me too.

Let see the options you have listed:

1) do what others think you should do.
2) avoid doing what others think you should not do.

Other than therapies with a dominatrix, I say just stay the course and try to avoid worrying about nothing. Even farmers notice the smell of manure occasionally. It's just human nature but we would all starve if they all ran for the city whenever that happened.

Joi :
I've been reading your blog for a while. I dont think you
need to explain yourself; Just blog spontaneously and
that is what really explains you and captures your thought
process.
Your trips expose your blog readers to many other interesting
people/blogs/activities etc. Does not bother me.
In short, just keep blogging as it occurs/happens.
Regds,
Kumar

I have met many bloggers who have stopped posting because they have reached the tipping point where the time taken to write interesting posts no longer covers the satisfaction of having an audience. When it comes down to it, most bloggers don't have much interesting to say, and as time goes on they become less interesting. This is not necessarily a bad thing as seeing the mundane in someone else's life validates our ordinariness. But bloggers themselves may have some difficulty in maintaining this level of mundaneness, the self-imposed pressure to create interesting content may be too great and in basic conflict with their actual lives.

The reason I read here (the only blog I do read regularly) is to see Joi's grappling/guilt with issues and to get a window to his world.

I believe Joi used to write regular columns for magazines. A return to that format could strip out the mundane elements to some extent and perhaps relieve the writer's pressure to always have to say something, whether interesting or not.

As long as you're being yourself and express your opinions in a decent and polite manner, which is the case, I don't see any reason for censoring yourself. Your blog is what you want it to be, but if it creates constraints and doesn't make you feel comfortable, don't do it rather than forcing yourself. As simple as that.

Fuck 'em -- write what you want. Don't let the bastards install a cop-chip in your head.

Hey Joi, you're everyone's favorite blogger, not only because of what you have contributed to the blogging world as an entrepreneur, but your blog is everything a blog should. I check on you daily to see what you are up to, thinking about.

ou have no idea how many friends you have, because of what you write, the way you write. And on a personal note, I love to follow where you travel and am always hoping some day you will come this way (Geneva).

Anyone who says you are self centered or boring doesn't have a clue.

I guess with thousands of readers you can't act as if it was just a normal weblog. The fate of stardom: You have increased responsibility about what you write. Maybe start a second blog anonymously?

Peter wrote @3:
I have reacted so strongly in the past to MostlyVowels, who often leaves comments on your blog, is less his (or her) positions than his or her style: utterly arrogant and contemptuous in the extreme, but often essentially a bluff
My my. Behold the asymmetry of the feelings. I must really have grated on this Peter's nerves, whilst to me, he's just a forgettable character ;-)
Anyway, I know I often sound impatient, utterly arrogant and contemptuous, but what Peter seems to miss is that — just like Joi's postings — my arguments are totally in the open, vulnerable and falsifiable. Just like Joi, I see no need to hide behind a plate of armored glass or don a flame-proof suit, and I am fully aware that people with a better understanding of a particular subject than me might be able and willing to shoot me down in an open forum, if so they choose. Do I care ? Not the least. Heck, I might even learn a thing or two. Besides, hopefully, it would take a person armed with some real, significant insight, understanding and facts to prove me wrong in a debate... Has this Peter got what it takes ? :-) If all he can muster is tiresome repetition under slightly different wordings of some unsubstantiated insight with which I happen to disagree, then, he'd better be prepared for some impatient tongue-lashing...

ditto what Boris Anthony said.
- - -

MI
sorry I couldn't find anything on Tanuki produced by a Momoko Usagi.

>Do you think I should post silly and sometimes no-so-well-developed posts.

yes.

It's your site and you should post what you want no matter how silly, outrageous, not well developed, etc. I generally enjoy the content of your blog, although I often disagree with many of your opinions. I do hope that you do continue to check your facts before posting. To me that is just a requisite of good writing.

helge said: "You have increased responsibility about what you write. Maybe start a second blog anonymously?"

But why start a second blog, when you can just distribute that responsibility among your readers by soliticing advise about how you should write?

Some people say that people only ask advice of other people when they know what that advice will be, so we can do what we want, but feel like we're doing it for some reason other than our own desire. I'm not convinced this is true in every situation, but I think it's pretty clearly true here. You're asking the people who read your blog how you should write it to make them happy. Unsurprisingly, the advice is nearly unanimous that you should do exactly what you would have done had you not asked for this advice. But now you will probably feel less responsible for the results as dozens of people told you to do so. And I suspect that was the goal on some level.

Boris,
I agree that our Tanuki should learn how to dance.

IJ,
Hint:
Tanuki was born in Kyoto. Usagi came from Iwate from Ninja's family. Tanuki learned a lot from Tanuki-sensei in Kyoto.
MI

Someone wise once told me: if you're not pissing anyone off, you're doing something wrong.

You said it, Catspaw!

Be yourself, and most people will admire you for your integrity, whether or not your posts are spontaneous, serious, silly or thorough and serious.

"Be yourself" is easier said than done, though, when one isn't sure who one wants to be. (And lemme tell you, I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up!) Maybe one reason for the blog-block is that you've hit a point where you're not sure where you want to go next as a person, generally - not just as a blogger. We all have these personal transition points but most of us haven't been blogging long enough to go through them publicly on our blog.

Unfortunately, the annoying people out there are not very forgiving or empathetic about the fact that you are a human being - or that any blogger other than themselves is a human being with feelings. Ignore them.

Fortunately, you have lots of friends around the world who think you're a great person (which is more important than being a great blogger IMHO, tho you are that also) and will keep reading your blog because you're YOU, whatever you decide to post, or not.

blogging should be about your perspective on the world. Perspective is projected through observations/reactions/comments on what is happening around you.

Sometimes those observations are deep, sometimes shallow but both are valid. I enjoy your comments on eating bamboo shoots but wonder if perpetual jet lag is good for you in the long run. Is attending forums around the world good for you or good for the world?

I gotta agree....fuck 'em. It's really interesting to see what goes on 'behind the scenes', as it were, of a person who has lots of neat things to say and do professionally. It gives me a fuller picture and gives me an insight into why you think the way you do.

Also, I love the travel bits. As much as I've been away from home this year, I haven't gotten to go to all the cool places so there's a bit of vicarious travel from here. And there's an audience for that too - I've managed to attract a lot more steady readers to my year abroad blog than I ever did to my neat links+commentary blog.

Mostly Vowels:
You can figure out who I am. I can't figure out who you are.

Thanks for making my point for me.

I guess it depends who you write your blog for Joi: yourself or your audience. Personally, I like it when you put your opinions and viewpoints out there for the world to see. I like reading what's important to you, because it's different from what's important to me and makes me think about my opinions.

Tell the complainants if they don't like your blog to go *#!(*& )*>"{})#$@!!!

Remember, it's not OUR Blog it's Joi's Blog. There's no WE in Joi.

Joi = Posting a funny picture for you on my blog. I think back in 2002-2003 we were a lot more loosey goosey and it's hard to be that way now. I don't think there's an easy answer. H

Well, I just could not understand why so many people read your blog. I mean, it just doesn't seem to be very interesting. My current theory is that you literally know these thousands of people, and what you write about is interesting to them, insiders.

Peter wrote @45:
You can figure out who I am. I can't figure out who you are.
So what ? Forgive me to be blunt, but I'm afraid I couldn't care less who you are. What I care about is your ideas, and how you present and defend them. if you can't come up with even one single reference, paper, book or model which either substantiates your point of view, or invalidates the references I cite in a discussion, then don't be surprised if I start to get impatient... Remember "Show & Tell" in grade school ? Well, we've heard your “Tell”, but in a debate, some “Show” would also be expected from time to time ;-)

Joi,
I wonder - why are you getting at all involved into such a discussion? If someone doesn't want to read all the things you publish, let them not read the blog.

You're the writer, not the reader, so write -

As we say in the ambulance service...

"F**k 'em, f**k 'em all".

Post what you want to post about, do what you want to do. you are not required to dance to the tune of other people.

(alcohol is wonderful for letting you make philosophical statements)

Joi -- I agree on some level with the whole "fuck them, write for yourself" idea, but if this was really your MO I don't think you would have written this post asking people what they think.

Well, I have been reading your blog for I guess close to three years now, and it's one of the few blogs that has stayed in in my daily reading list. I think what differentiates your writing from other "a-list bloggers" for me is that when I read your blog I really feel included.

OK, maybe I'm projecting a bit, but I get the feeling you really care what people think. And I don't see why that's a bad thing. I think that's a strength for you!

When people are a critical or give you difficult feedback to a post you make, it seems like you are unusally open minded and integrate that critcism into your thinking. Well that's damn hard and not many people could do that. Especially in such an open way. And that makes your blog to me more human, and a more dynamic read.

Of course you know, double-edged sword...as a result of making everyone opinion seem important, you let in jerks who are making non-constructive criticism. The jerks like to hurt people for no reasons. That sucks. And I don't know what to do about it. But the jerks are a loud minority. The silent majority is way more important than those guys.

So yea, I think whatever direction your blog takes you, don't stop caring what people think -- that's what makes your blog special. Maybe just learn to balance it more?

Mostly Vowels:
I am relcutant to even reply to you but my point was in reference to just one element of your hero complex:
"just like Joi, I see no need to hide behind a plate of armored glass or don a flame-proof suit."

Your self-image is just so silly-I don't know what else to say.

The way I see it is this: yes, your blog has changed over the past X days/weeks/months/whatever; and that might be for a few reasons
a) the way people blog has changed; and perhaps you're reacting to that
b) you've changed.

And if the people who were reading "you" don't like what's happening, let 'em vote with their feet. You can't help that.

As for me: speak on sir. Tell me where you're going; and let me come for the ride, if however intermittently & vicariously.

This I guess is the eternal blogger's angst...I've decided to deal with it by tagging the quick and dirty posts as "Half-baked riffs"...

thanks for giving voice to this ailment that befalls us all.

Peter wrote @54:
my point was in reference to just one element of your hero complex [blah]
Yup. I have no problems at all citing sources, being candid, exposing my argumentation in public, in short, being vulnerable and falsifiable. Are there any other “interesting” points you wish to make ? What is it with you and your perennial “MostlyVowels flamed me! Bad bad bad MostlyVowels!” kindergarten tantrum ?

Two things. I can't give you any good advice on what to blog because I'm having a hard time deciding myself. I tend to write more essays than blogs, but I'm going to try to start up with more a traditional blog style posting where I refer people to stuff I find interesting. Of course, that assumes anyone reads me, which I don't think anyone does :).

Secondly, your wiki is down. I was going to check out your IRC channel :).

Thanks for all of the comments everyone. I'm still not sure I can easily get out of this "boring rut" but you've definitely given me the courage to try. ;-)

Turn off your comments. Really. If the comments are interfering with your creative process, then they're not helping. Turn 'em off for a while and see if it helps melt the creative ice. It did for me - I turned my comments off a few years ago and never looked back.

Besides, if people want to respond, they can post to their own blogs.

To add some fuel to the fire, I think you should post more mundaine stuff.
I prefer to read about you sleeping in yoru couch with Bo, rather then a lengthy discussion about a discussion.

I mean, those are very important, and I do enjoy a discussion about a discussion from time to time, but it's the personal posts and personal opinions which got me started reading this blog, and eventually got me to make my own.

So lets see more Joi! :)

PS: That thing about turning off the comments (Derek), I agree, it might help!
Leave trackback on so bloggers can comment, and if bloggers feel SO strong about complaining that they would blog about it, more power to them. Otherwise, people can vent their steam at their monitors ;)

//D

I wouldn't call it blogger's block so much as perhaps "Blog Ennui." When web pages made their first debut in the early 1990s -- I felt so excited about seeing images in color and clicking on hyperlinks after typing unix commands into a command prompt and reading text. "Suring" the new sites that appeared on the "Site of the Day" felt so exciting. Then - after a few years, novelty wore off and surfing turned into googling.

Anyway, I like reading what you find interesting as well as the silly and not so developed posts. If I wanted to read more rigorous writing, I'd read the newspaper or a novel. The silly and not so developed posts is what gives blogging character.


Life is short.
In the blink of an eye this present moment can end.
In a moment of chaos do you pay attention to the sound of the wind, the rain, and the thunder.
You focus on the present moment.
I find in life psychological vampires.
Persons or people`s spirits that would try to steal energy from me.
persons that attempt to attack my spirit.
your spirit defined as your mind; your will; and your emotions; the very heart or core your being.
It is not harmonious or in your best interest to pay heed to the good; the bad; or the ugly.
Exist as the wind; from which no person is sure of its origin.
Exist as the mountain unmoveable.
Exist like water ever conforming to your environment.
Fall into the void and forget everything.
In the void time ceases to exist.
Here you walk between the drops of rain.

Yes, a blog is a personal thing, but you have many aspects of your personality that you show or put aside depending on the occasion. A blog is also a publishing venture, so it all depends what your audience is what you want it to be.

My 3 yen is that you should go deeper inside yourself if you want to be personal: if you write everytime you take a plane, then write about what you like and dislike, however silly or not newsworthy.

Joi, there are 6 billion people in the world; you're guaranteed to offend or bore some of them!

Do what makes YOU happiest.

Hi Joi, It's funny, but I've been pondering the voice/audience duality of being a blogger, or, in fact, a writer. I think Dave Weinberger was on to something important. Does a blogger write for an audience or do they write for themselves? It sounds like this is one of the questions you're pondering. Is your blog a reflection of your life or is it a reflection of the audience you are trying to attract? These are important questions, and I believe they are answered based upon the goals of the blogger. They may also change over time especially when some goal has been achieved.

Criticisms from readers is, also, a shared experience among bloggers. The BlogHer Conference on July 30th in Santa Clara has dedicated a session to this topic. Long ago you wrote that you'd want to attend all conferences on blogging. Will you attend BlogHer?

How has what you've gained from blogging changed? I'm still adamant about posting what i think is interesting because a huge chunk of it for me is getting it off my shoulders. That said, there's no doubt that the griping affects me as well.

Post only that which provides value to your audience.

Practical benefit, usable information, helpful tips, good advice, a "boon" as the Buddhists say.

Personal stuff is only interesting when it is presented in a way that is helpful or very funny or very interesting.

You know a lot about something I'm trying to understand better: blogs as personal and social transformation tools.

Blog about what you know, and less about what you do.

My two since.

:^)

P.S. I wonder about those who say "just be yourself". That's a load of shit.

"being self" rarely helps anyone, and rarely clarifies or benefits self. What is "self" anyway? A pile of conditioning that is mostly meaningless.

I believe in moving beyond the paltry narcissistic self into something bigger, more beneficial.

A blog, to be of value and worth, needs to give readers a reason for reading. There are millions of people yapping about trivial mundane details in their mediocre personal lives.

I'm not saying your blog has become too personal or too mundane. I'm just speaking theory here. I will not judge your blog, but I'll tell you my blogological concepts.

:^]

Joi,

The longer we blog, the more we see changed about oursevles over time.

When I felt a similar effect last year, I took a break and returned with a change in attitude. Rather than feeling an obligation to perform like a circus pony every day - and failing - I blog as frequently as there's something I want to blog about, rather than feeling compelled to blog about the same kinds of stuff I used to, or as frequently.

I'm sure this is a standard blogger's virus thing. Blog-flu.

I agree wholeheartedly with Gary Turner (in the coment above this one).

Blogged about it too:

http://www.gapingvoid.com/Moveable_Type/archives/001629.html

1. read your post
2. did not read the 71 comments preceeding mine

what i want to say is that the web as a communication medium is evolving while you as a human being are also not standing still, thus what was appropriate and right for whom you were one year ago, may no longer be so right now. this is a combination of flux, dispersion and evolution. it is real, and it is remarkle that you have taken notice of it.

It sounds like you are suffering from the "zzzzzzz-list" blues (search technorati). Maybe it's time for a change. As Hugh Macleod points out in his essay on creativity, you will find most of your "friends" will resist such change (I think that's clear from these comments). They love you and will not want you to change. Perhaps these feelings you have are trying to tell you to move on to the whatever is next. Listen to what's inside.

So you have found yourself becoming reluctant to post things that are slapdash, trite, wrong, poorly written or too narcissistic? And you find this problematic? It sounds like your signal-to-noise ratio may be improving, which is a reason to celebrate, not to hand-wring.

I said to someone very recently (someone we both know) ;) : "Talk about what you know, talk about what gives you pleasure, talk about what you are. Don't try to write for others".

The others are not a _unique_ group, they are plenty of minorities. And it's specifically there are minorities that the world is interesting. So when you write on your weblog, don't write for the majority, by loosing your own sense of minority, yourself. Yes, what you write might not please everyone and that's normal. Yes, what you write might be inexact, but it's why some of the readers will react sometimes agressively.

I have never seen an arrogant post from you. I have seen post I disagree with. I have seen post I agree with. But never one of the verge of dishonesty. For being boring, write about what you like, it's not you who is writing for a readership, but the readership who's coming to you, depending of what they found in your writings. The readership is choosing you, not the opposite.

my 2 boring yen. (eeek not that much)

Try turning off the comments. The weblog I read most, Scripting.com, has no comments and is all the better for it.

Joi

Been away and I'm struck by how different your blog is now say from six months ago. Thats *GREAT*, I wouldnt want it to be the same.. :) Other commenters have already covered the "write for yourself" aspect, so I wont add there.

That said, if you can't handle the comments, turn it off. You'll get enough free advice anyways through your email :) Some comments are just plain invasive, and would be more appropriate as comments on the originator's weblog about *your* weblog.

And about your travels: you did express in the past a feeling that maybe you're traveling too much because of the ecological effect you're having, consuming too many resources. While you *are* an important person in the online community, and everyone would love to meet you in person, this concern is entirely appropriate. You're certainly consuming way more than the average person, so it's appropriate to ask yourself for what and whose benefit are you doing this. I've personally cut down on travel to the bare minimum. I find that I can have a wonderful vacation in the backyard of my house, I don't need to go to Acapulco or some exotic place like that, and it *is* much more environmentally friendly, which I like :)

OK rant over. When are you coming to the Bay area again? :) LOL

fu*k that.
you're only human and you are entitled to it - and everythig that goes with it.

Problem is - you're also an exceptional man (i've met you and i saw your way of thinking, etc) an opinion-maker, a leader and sort of a role model for a lot of people.
And "we", the people, are still thinking about perfect things and people without any imperfections, even worse, we tend to make heroes and myths out of people like you. "We" need them/you.
In my opinion, as soon we get ower with this IDOLIZING, acccept each other as we are (i never intended to sound so holistic) and move on to what we were doing before "we" started this boring,boring discussion, the better.

I hope/wish that you conquer your bloggers block. Possibly in a way, that will still let you share your thoughts and inspire some/many of us.

Now, is someone before me said that allready - too bad, but i didn't want to read other's posts, in order not to be influenced. Paradox, isn't it?

It's your blog, your space, do with it as you wish. :)

Who cares what others think. It's your blog. Do it your way. And that's just perfect.

Hi Joi,

I was recently in Japan but as it was my honeymoon I decided not to harass you for a meet. However if your blog was not so much 'you' then that thought would never have crossed my mind.

The internet while having almost everything can not be everything to everyone in each individual space.

Yes, this is your blog so do what you want with it but then others expect you to be polite, some expect you to be honest and most expect you to be diligent.

I say time to face reality - you can't be Joi to all of us - you need to seperate your styles and interests and make that clearer. You can be Joi the personal friend to those you know and wish to interact with at that level. You can be Joi the networker and deal facilitator to others and once again communicate in that manner and style and finally Joi the colleague/business partner but quite frankly to mix them all up into one blog is not going to be the best and most effective use of your time IMHO.

Joi

there's definitely a place for the less fully developed blog post. One of the advantages I've always seen blogging offering is as a way to get discussion going around ideas as they form... rather than presenting everything as a polished and fully considered argument.

Maybe you should turn your comments off for a month and post whatever you want whenever you want. Negative comments feed into a negative mindset. It's not that the comments are getting to you but the fact that they express the same self-doubt you hear in the back of your own mind.

I will say this, of the thousands of people that enjoy your blog, maybe 1 person will say "thanks" or "good job." Out of 100 people that get irked by a post on your blog, maybe 5 or 6 will leave a nasty comment (sometimes more than once!). This is the internet after all. There's a bigger payoff for the person that criticizes rather than praises you.

NO...don't turn off comments. Blogs are great, not due to one-way broadcast sermonizing, but rather due to easy and swift interaction with audience.

"Be yourself, do whatever you want" is old fashioned, pampered, Me Generation, new agey tripe that means nothing and provides no direction at all, though I'm sure the readers who say this mean well and are wonderful people.

You have stated that "be yourself, do you thing, screw the audience" is not working. You seek advice on direction. We readers should ponder what is a blog, what is a blog post, why visit any blog in particular.

You ask "post less silly, poorly researched, poorly documented articles?"

Er...yeah, that's the ticket.

Silly posts, fun posts, bizarre posts now and then in a blog such as yours is fine, gives variety.

But no more poorly researched posts, if indeed you feel you have posted some of this nature.

You say you may be developing a Blogging Ethic? Hooray for you, then!

Blog ethics and quality are so poor, I started a new blog devoted to these concerns: Blog Core Values.

Anyway, you are, IMHO, on the right track: introspective, serious, self-questioning.

Japan is full of Zen and Buddhist texts, which I love largely.

Though I'm Christian, I dearly love Buddha and his teachings.

Perhaps your country's traditions hold some answers for you. Return to the roots, so to speak.

Recall what Buddah said about "self".

:^)

Since this is your 'personal' blog I reckon that anything, and I mean anything, that you want to post in here is a reflection of your personal.

If you let outsiders dictate what you blog about you might as well listen to them in regards to your eating...

I'm with the others who say it's your blog and do with it what you will.

Turning off comments will solve some problems for sure but it will also make your blog closer to traditional media. Part of what I love about blogs is the chance to participate in the information. One of my favourite jazz musicians, Pat Metheny, inspires very robust audience response - from shouting to foot stomping, clapping, whistling, etc. Pat has commented in interviews that he LOVES this about his audiences. That he and the band feed on the energy of the audience. This can go the other way, of course, booing and heckling (and there's certainly much more of that in blogging than you find in jazz).

The question I pose to you Joi is whether or not you dig your audience riffing on your solos? Does it energize you and compliment your playing or is it taking away from your life, your expression?

I don't think I could turn off my comments. The comments are often better than my posts. Some comments hurt, but I learn a great deal even from the negative comments.

So, I don't think I could ever ignore "the community" and I think of everyone here when I'm writing. I don't think that's necessarily bad. The point of this post was that if the result of this was that I was becoming boring, it was probably a bad thing.

Can you do both? Perhaps you can tag some posts as "brainstorming" or "my life" and others as "deep thoughts." There is value to both "on the record" and "off the record" speech.

Maybe you are getting bored with blogging in general? After all, we are still young men with plenty of intellectual growth yet to endure and enjoy. Joi getting bored with blogs is bad news for blogging. Not the other way around.

Sliiiightly off on a tangent.... How about we turn off comments on posts older than say, 30 days? The number of clueless Google-stumblers asking to be emailed "proper format CV", Thai mosquito repellant software, info on whether the SO505is will work in the US/Europe, or just pontificating on how innocuous/deadly Diet Coke is, and what a truly landmark film "Team America" was... is getting ME down on blogging! ;)

Do you think I should post silly and sometimes no-so-well-developed posts or do you think this rigor of taking more responsibility and being more politically correct is a good thing? In a way, this bloggers block could be viewed as a developing bloggers ethic in my head and something normal and good.

Which question do you mean to ask? Should you somehow make your posts more "interesting" and "relevant"? Or, should you attempt to preserve site integrity, prestige, and content by censoring crazy comments? It's your show. No producers, writers, or actors will try to influence the making of it. So, perhaps you are free to do whatever keeps you interested personally. That strategy works for Q.Tarantino. It is great that you also encourage your "viewership" to weigh-in. Are you concerned with ratings? Maybe that's the question you have to answer.

You are not alone, Joi. I've seen several people on LiveJournal turn their journals Friends-Only because of negative feedback. Yes, it does take you off the public sphere, and there's a frequent itch to say something in public, but it seems like with blogging, your readership inevitably comes with its share of hecklers.

Please excuse my generalization, but, I believe that we, as a nation are too sensitive about criticism. This is a dangerous characteristic for any democratic system. My suggestion is to develop a thicker skin. When the criticism gets mean and offensive, it usually indicates you gotten closer to the truth then the crtic would like. So work on a thickening of the skin. To build up the callouses you've got to do the work.

Be Joi...and everything else will follow.

love your blog,

Kath :-)

Thanks again for your comments everyone. Although I wasn't fishing for compliments... I appreciate them very much and... for some reason my bloggers block appears to be gone. Am I that simple? ;-)

(Don't answer that please.)

Hello Joi,

I think there's a good thing to be said for switching off comments every now and then. Blogging crosses many ego barriers and whilst it *is* a diary, it's also a public diary. The communication with the audience is interesting, but does an audience have to communicate back to you on every *single* aspect of your life? If you want to blog about having bad constipation (!), should that have comments?! I think not. If you write something which asks for debate, or is an open experience that you think other people will have had or feel sympathy with - again, keep the comments on.

I tend to keep my comments on or off as fluid on a per post basis, and when a particular old post has been comment spammed, I close that particular entry.

It's not perfect, and I certainly am more circumspect about what I write than I was when I hard coded my original diary back in '97, but it seems to work better than complete openness.

Hardcore "everything is public" bloggers will I'm sure disagree. to them I would say: each to his own. The systems are maleable - that's what they're there for.

Also, reading about yourself in trackbacks is *not* a good idea! Why not switch off trackback and make people make a teensy bit of copy and paste effort. That way, it doesn't matter who says what about you. Again for spam reasons, I switched off trackback long ago. Makes no difference to my life!

Blogger's (god, I hate that word) Block is natural and happens to everyone after a while.

On the other hand, you could be suffering from the mistaken belief that what you read in the comments is what people overall actually think; i.e. the Loudspeaker Effect (the guy with the loudspeaker can be just as loud as the whole crowd, but not nearly representative of it).

So, if the people who comment don't appear to like what you have to say, then don't listen. Or better, turn off the comments. If your true (admit it to yourself) purpose in allowing comments is to make sure you still have an audience, you'll be much happier using a hit counter.

It's a well-known fact that the only people who post (myself included) are people who really believe in what they are saying, cranks or otherwise. It's also a well-known fact that people who really believe they are right usually aren't.

So, take the comments with only a grain of salt. Or at least save yourself the pain and stop reading them.

If you're reading this far down the comments list....

Are you writing as utterance, clearing your mind, blowing away the cobwebs?

As performance, crafting memes for audiences, testing waters?

As advocate? As critic? As foody and bon vivant? As a citizen of the world?

You're asking a question about writing on purpose, and whether listening to your readership is changing you.

Duh.

If you didn't change, and your blog didn't change, THEN you'd be boring.

So, just for my own entertainment, more food reports, travelog, and interesting people. And flag the really deep thought pieces; don't wanna miss them.

p.s. if you think this is bad, wait until you start broadcasting your presence.

All the love.

Joi,

Here's another vote for uncensored spontaneity. It's not just a question of "it's your blog, do as you wish" or even FITCAJ (fk'em if they cant take a joke). It's the fact that you represent the original ethos of the net and practice it better than anyone else. You are the "wise elder" not in age, but in years and understanding.
Which is why I'm glad you're back and also glad you are involved with ICANN.
Thanks!

getting a bit bored by these predictable be-what-you-are-comments: a blog has to be looked at like a series of moves in a language game. and in days of writer's block one has just to get the flow going (if the blog is to survive, which in this case it surely should). so it's absolutely not about the "quality" of single entries. it's about the flow, which will bring on interesting, silly, surprising etc. posts ... eactly what i want to read here. eternal truths should still be printed.

Thanks again for your comments everyone. Although I wasn't fishing for compliments... I appreciate them very much and... for some reason my bloggers block appears to be gone. Am I that simple? ;-)

Yeah, yeah. Well, we didn't stock the pond with compliments either. They were already there, swimming. I would be happy to counter them with a few insults if ya want.

I only stumbled onto your blog tonight--oops, make that LAST night as it is now 8.52 am & I haven't been able to leave.

I love your blog. Please just keep on being yourself. I think the very best thing about blogs is that you get to be YOU and readers get to see YOU and not the you some editor or publisher wants to present. And, in turn, they get a look at themselves...

And you're changing, I hear. Yeah, sure you are. That's pretty much what life is all about, is it not?

Please don't worry about this. What makes your blog so compelling is just that you are self-exploring as well as encouraging your readers to do the same. We have plenty of pundits who know the whole TRUTH ABOUT EVERYTHING. We need more explorers, like you.

Thank you for this blog. My 72nd birthday is on June 1 and I signed up for a card from you. If you will send me your birth date I would like to send you a card when the time arrives.

Thanks for keeping me awake all night--I am not jesting; I was bored out of my mind.

It's your blog post what you want..

I think lots of stuff out there is boring.
The first 150 pages of a Delicate Balance which is a brilliant book, are intolerably boring.

Most of the daily newspaper is incredibly boring. Power-point presentations are about 99% of the time totally boring.

Why should one person doing their own production/editorial have an obligation to be less boring than a hollywood movie with a multi-million dollar budget.

As long as a good percentage of what one does is not boring, than it's probably better than a lot of what is available.

also do you actually read all 100+ comments on your blog?

also has someone (not me, it's not neccesary) come up with a comments aggregrator? you could make a technorati style mash-up. ie; This is what the bulk of commentary on this post was saying.


I do read all of my comments, but I wish there was a nice way to organize them, yes.

I don't expect any blog other than my own to exist for my own pleasure because I have happened upon it.

If you are not writing to offend, then do not be overly concerned with other people’s interpretations. Have you noticed that in our society, you are made to feel responsible for how you interpret what others say and how others interpret what you say?

How can that work?

Just write, and the folks that do not like it for one reason or another will get a chance to write what they think, here, or somewhere else:)

That said, my blog is light this week, so please feel free to take offense all over it.

Have Fun, Bill http://www.adventurepotato.org/blog/

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