13 December 2010

On blogging

A recent post from Silbs made me reflect on the reasons I blog.
Since I don't have commercial reasons to advertise my products or ideas I wondered on my motives. It must be because I find that sharing knowledge enhances my life.
There is a tremendous amount of very good work out there, in cyberspace.
Just like I often come across great ideas, reports and good information in general when browsing for a particular item, I wish to share my findings with others. I have learned a lot from my fellow bloggers.

There are the usual high speed commercial sites where the info can be occasionally biased, there are a few good amateur independent offerings and then there are the useless ones that just like to post mindless material because they can.
And that last one seems to be the subject of Silbs post.
Does one really feel the need to post countless images of questionable quality of the same subject? surely they can see that a bit of culling would make the blog a bit more attractive.
The same goes with reports of trips and events.
Does anybody really care that I got up early in the morning to cook porridge and then pack up my camp and then load the kayak and then launch in a bit of North-Easterly and that the humidity was high and I was paddling at 5.3Kmp with a 45 degree feather in my paddle? You know what I mean.
I understand that not all blogs are directed towards a universal audience but even the selected few that might know the person/location could possibly get bored.

I am a lousy writer therefore I try to relay what I experienced with images. But just because an image says a thousand words it does not mean I should create "verbal diarrhea" by posting too many images of the same thing. The advent of digital photography means we can take hundreds of images but I select my images; only the ones I think are the very best make the cut and only very few are published. If any average photographer would pay just a bit more attention to on how they take the an image and try to be more selective when they publish or share them then I might better see the experience they are trying to relay to me.
The same goes with prose: cut the unnecessary stuff and tell me more about the essence and the experience, not the mundane facts.
Combine good images with decent copy and maybe there is something I can be bothered reading. Seakayakphoto is an outstanding example on how to create an appealing story: images and copy.
While I believe that no blogger is immune to ego, I notice some just like to post hoping to get attention.

Unfortunately some have very little to say and their efforts have the opposite effect, leaving them open to ridicule.
Some bloggers go for the "reheated news". Seen somewhere else an article that seems to be popular? Let's repost it in my blog hoping to generate some traffic.
I find it OK if a blogger actually comes across a terrific piece of work that is rather obscure and believes that it deserves a bit more publicity, but question the motive of those who cut/paste sensationalistic news so people flock to their blog.

I don't know what to say but I am compelled to have a new post? There is always the option of having unrelated professionals write for me. Maybe the topic has to be a bit generic but at least my blog has a new post.
I was recently approached by a commercial company of writers that does just that. They offered to write an article for Gnarlydog News for free to then have their company linked on my blog.
I asked them to write something about Aleut and Greenland paddles. Their reply:
"...However I feel that our writers may not be able to deal with a topic of that nature.
Have you anything else you would be interested in featuring on your website. Maybe something on travel kayaking? "Dilbert.com
Yeah, a generic post about travelling: how riveting :-)
OK, not everybody can be good at blogging. I certainly am just average.
My writing is a bit ghetto but I like to use the excuse that English it's my 4th language. I try a bit harder with images though.
Some posts require a fair amount of planning, preparing and executing the footage/images.
Once I have acquired the material I spend some time editing it since I regard my raw footage as only good for a draft, rarely worthy of presentation.
I like to present my work with straight horizons and I crop out the disturbing elements, if I can. A bit of polishing makes a huge difference.
Despite all that I don't spend too much time capturing the footage, I'm rarely getting paid for it :-)
It's just an amateur effort in capturing fun moments of my activities, something that I will like to review in years to come.
Certainly bloggers are free to write what they want and publish as many pictures as they please, but if you want others to be as interested as you are in your offerings, it pays to remember: "quality over quantity".


  1. I have almost lost interest in blogging to an audience. I have achieved my initial aim of the blog with the Hunter Klan site and my own views are probably too dull for the average punter. I still get around 2000 looks a month, though. Go figure. I just can't find enough content to be relevant to that many people and I now consider my blog to be just that, a log of my kayaking life; irrelevant to most except me.


  2. This is an interesting one and basically I agree.
    One the great things about a blog however is the freedom it allows, in terms not only of content, but purpose.
    For some, the blog is perhaps more akin to a diary, albeit a very public one, than anything else. Mine started as a replacement for showing friends and family the pictures/prints from my trips, after finally turning to digital cameras.
    It has since morphed into something rather different, though I would struggle to define exactly what, and certainly the purpose / target audience / style etc differ from one post to the next.
    Ultimately, whilst it's great that others enjoy it, the blog is as much for me, like my old photo albums, as it is for anyone else.
    My point?
    Well, perhaps the blogging arena is one in which greater tolerance is required. If a blogger presents half a dozen images of a sunset or route climbed or favourite mountain, they at least will no doubt enjoy looking at them in years to come. It would be a shame to apply, or through peer pressure make others feel that they ought to apply, the rather ruthless editorial approach of a commercial magazine or similar, to something that allows such personal, unedited, freedom.
    These are just my thoughts on the subject, not a judgement on your post, which is a good one, as it made me think...

  3. We blog because we seek an audience. It might be just loneliness or it might be lack of enthusiasum of the people around us for the topic at hand. For some it is also that the passion for the topic greatly outweighs the quantity and quality of feedback we seek.

    Let's not kid ourselves in putting down those who blog on mundane stuff. It's as if we were going to the temple of the thousand steps (Chau van Hanh Buddhist Temple), got about half way and laughed at those at the bottom.

    Yes, your blog is better than average of the blogs that I know - but so what? It's only good for those who drink the sea kayaking coolaid and those who are trying to learn. Those who have been around for a long time might find even your posts mundane because they already know ... or because they just don't care anymore about gear - they just want to paddle. They might just be a few steps above you on the way to the 'shrine'.

    Speaking of seakayakphoto - the photo's are good but they become mundane after one has read the blog a few times. There is nothing dynamic about them. They don't tell enough story. It's usually a landscape shot or a landscape shot with a kayak in the foreground. That's about as conservative as one could get in photography.

    Yours truly SDP

  4. Actually, Gnarly, you are a successful writer as you get your ideas across very well. On the topic of lots of words and lots of pictures: I wish I had said it as well as you did at the top. I think I came off as xenophobic when I only meant to make an observation. Well done.

  5. Maybe a better outlet for your frustration of others personality/blogs would be to direct it towards the blogs you do not like? Or maybe not read them?

  6. SDP, your photographic work is something else.
    You have a strong artistic sense while I still carry more of a commercial style.
    I rarely allow myself to let go and explore more researched angles instead of the mundane Golden Rule postcard crowd pleaser.
    I have graduated though from the endless "sunset-in-the-middle-of-the-frame" subject :-)
    Do you want to share your excellent work with my readers? I have lost the link to your site...

  7. Will, thank you for making me pause and think for a while.
    Dang, you are right: blogging can be anything you want it to be. As you said: it should not always be hardliner magazine editorial.
    But I still can't follow the cut/paste sensationalistic news philosophy of some blogs though.

  8. It’s a bit like visiting a news stand where the shelves are full of titles ranging from National Geographic to the National Enquirer.
    Like most people, I enjoy blogs that are well written, have beautiful photography and are about topics that interest me at the time. I also visit a particular blog that is dedicated only to reporting current news on certain disciplines, a bit like a newsfeed, with little or no personal info from the blogger and I generally avoid commercial blogs.
    There are certain styles of writing that I simply cannot read and I am not a fan of seeing every photo taken on a trip or movies that are too long and taken too far away from the subject. At times it frustrates me because the topic might be good and I want to read and see more but the translation destroys my interest. So as Lee says, I just dont read those blogs.
    One of my favourite blogs is simple, low profile and produced with passion. The photos and text are not always fancy, but the bloggers obvious passion draws me back and makes me forget about the sometimes crooked horizon.

  9. I am for blogosphere that is the primordial soup of random elements from which something has the potential of eventually emerging.

    It does not matter if the creator outputs art, information or nothing at all of substance but mere rambles. A blog that is used for one's own therapeutic purposes--whatever they may be--is fine in my book.

    It does not matter if a blog has a universal appeal, niche audience, family or close circle of friends, or even the creator as the sole consumer. Or no consumer at all, for that matter.

    I am all for blogs that I or someone else may consider totally useless as long as there's even a remote possibility that someone may benefit from them. Even if it is the creator along and even if those benefits are not really tangible.

    It is through trial-and-error that most worthwhile things are born and blogs are some of the cheapest trial-and-error laboratories I can think off. Even if the vast majority of worthless blogs die quickly and even if they wallow endlessly in oblivion: as long as there's a possibility that one of them will eventually contribute something to someone, it's all worth it in the end.

    Eloquently put: there is no way to get to that temple on top without taking that first meager step ... and let's face it, nobody will get excited about that first step. But what a great shame if that first step is never taken! The mighty oak tree begins with a meager acorn but how many acorns does it actually take to produce a single mighty oak tree?

    To me this post looking for a catalyst in some sort of evolutionary process. What can we as citizens of the blogosphere do, is there anything we can do, should we bother doing anything to improve, speed up, broaden, change the vernal pool? Or should we just leave it as it is and let the Great Cyber-Mother figure out who lives and who dies?

  10. I'm new to blogging but find it fun, especially when I read interesting comments. I only read blogs (such as Gnarlydog's), that I find really interesting. As a kayaker, I'm interested in keen, right to the point stuff with feeling, whether it's commercial, amateur, or whatever. I'm not interested in "I had porridge" stuff. Yawn. Nice photos that further the narrative are always good. Repetitious photos can be tedious. Editing is a good thing!

    BTW, I had eggs over medium for breakfast, with bacon, but it was a bit too crisp. The toast was a bit dark, and my host used margarine, which is not as good as butter. I could have used some fresh squeezed orange juice, but settled for tap water, as that was all he had. I'm in Seattle right now and looking at the harbor or the sound or a lake, which is relatively flat. There is a bridge over the water with cars going by. Oh look, a red car. I think it was a Dodge Viper. Snort! Oh, I just woke up. Where am I?

  11. Hey Captain Tsunami, I think you just confused Blogger for Facebook!
    Nice post grumpydog!


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