In Part One of this introductory missive there was a point I had intended to make that was completely swept away by the rather longish aside that actually got written. I can feel the weight of another one bearing down on me, but I will push it off for now, or the main point of this whole introductory post may never get written, which is the answer to this question:
And exactly what kind of blog is this supposed to be anyway?
[And that other aside that I was warning you about? Anticipate it very briefly here.]
But really, the world is filled with blogs – why one more?
Well, that is a very, very good question.
There are two types of people, the type of person who divides people into types – and the type who does not. Being the type dividing type myself, I could further subdivide people into two other distinct types: the ‘It’s all good’ type, and the ‘But some things are better than others’ type. The ‘It’s All Good’ type might feel very little inhibition about just plunging recklessly ahead and starting yet another WordPress blog, while the ‘But somethings are better than others’ type might feel a stronger sense of inhibition about adding yet another potentially hazy, unfocussed patch of real estate to the digital domain of the nooshpere.
Some time ago, prior to creating this blog, the members of what was then only a proto-meme merchants consortium [in reality little more than an advanced kind of Kaffeeklatsch] conducted exhaustive research over a period of many month to ascertain exactly what qualities highly successful blogs have most in common. What we came up with was very much like the list that Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer, came up with to teach delinquent dog owners how to make their delinquent dogs, happy and well socialized dogs.
Caesar’s list is:
In that order!
A little surprising perhaps, but when you think about it it makes a great deal of sense, he does have success on his side, [the final test of any evolutionary process – what works]. The list of characteristics of highly successful blogs is similar in that way, a little surprising, but when you think about it it makes a great deal of sense – and the order matters.
The MMC list for excellence in blogging:
- Commitment [to the blog and to blogging as a method]
- Professional work ethic
- Highly focused topic
- Expertise in that topic
- Passion for the topic
- Well written
In that order [mostly]
We took a very hard look at that list, took a very hard look at our selves, our personal limitations and put off thoughts blogging again for two years. Measuring ourselves against these lofty standards of excellence we found ourselves lacking seriously in every department, which in our minds was cause sufficient to shelve the project entirely – we may be lazy, but we’re not stupid. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, [time will tell us which eventually] we could never quite stop ruminating on the subject.
“I have something to say. My voice must be heard!”
This statement struck us all deeply as the perfect encapsulation of the psychic weight behind our personal and artistic quandaries, and unscabbed the debate once more about, “What to do about the blog.”
It was Von Ælfman who noted to the group that he couldn’t recall our old cohort Poquelin [someone who actually made something of his life] having said anything of the sort. Phi said he didn’t care, it sounded good enough for him, and rushed out of the room to the computer console. Unræd suggested there ought to be a way to have it pay for itself eventually. Visin, fulfilling his usual role of senex, pointed out that in order to be successful, we must devise a way to turn our weaknesses into our strength by reframing, – putting a new spin on an old horse, so to speak, our notions of what an excellent blog might be. He noted that one quality of blogs and blogging in general that we had previously overlooked [possibly because it was too obvious] was that blogs were essentially an act of educational outreach. This he suggested, and that the fact that none of us were experts in anything, ought to be no bar to us proceeding – we ought instead be turn the notion on its head – reverse the flow – and have all of the experts in the world come to our blog to teach us what we wanted to know – in all of the hazy, ill defined areas that interest us as a group – by asking interesting questions.
Then everyone turned to me at once and gave me the Look, which if you have never seen it, says in one sentence, “Ok, Wygart, you’re supposed be be the manifestor, go make it happen.” I hate that look. I almost lost my head with that look, back in the day, by being pestered to point out to Marat that there wasn’t anything at all revolutionary about beheading one’s political enemies.
Thus the idea for a new kind of blog was born, an educational blog with a difference, a blog where you the reader will educate the hosts! You can think of it as an advanced form of Q&A where the usual roles have been reversed. Thus it falls on us here at the Meme Merchants Consortium to cultivate one of the defining qualities of a United States Marine – having a leather neck – for you all then to take a stroke at it with the axe of authority – a bit like Sir Gawain at the chapel of the Green Knight – and hopefully with as little bloodshed.
The way this is supposed to work here is this: we will be stretching our neck way out on the chopping block with some new ‘rave’ [‘post’ is such a wooden term], then you comment on it and tell us where we got it all wrong – you teach us how to think better. It’s supposed to be a bit like the way the patent system works; instead of simply attempting to keep the nature of your invention secret, you seek the protection of being granted a patent in exchange for teaching everyone else how it works, which is supposed to then improve the state of the art for all. Get it?
All of the Meme Merchants take as a first principle that we are wrong about everything, in whole or in part, we’re just waiting for the happy news from you about which parts are the wrong parts – so we can be less wrong in the future. You are key in helping us reduce this problem.
So, that was how we officially became the Meme Merchants Consortium [M^2C]. It had been a kind of in-joke among our little klatch for years, ever since some disgruntled acolyte of Richard Dawkins accused us in a Usenet flame-war of being, “Just a bunch of meme merchants!” We took that as a kind of badge of honor, since that is more or less what we do all the time anyway, sit around and trade funny ideas the way some people trade pogs.
If that works for you, you are welcome to take your best chop.