Isaac Kaplan

"Is it any wonder I've got too much time on my hands?"

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Will Blogging Last? Part 2

(see below for part 1 - this is one of those posts that will make no sense unless you start from the beginning - sorry!)

Why will most blogs end? Because most people have only so much time to read the paper, go to the news websites, and otherwise get their info for the day.

So say, for example, in addition to my daily routine, I want to spend a small amount of time every day learning about personal finance. I want to know which mutual funds to invest in, how to afford to send my kids to college, etc. Let's say I allot 15-30 minutes a day for this. I would start with the Wall Street Journal and SmartMoney magazine, maybe watch some Jim Cramer, and stuff like that. If I only have 30 minutes to learn about this stuff, why would I focus on what the average Joe is writing a blog, when I have no idea whether the author knows his a** from his elbow? I'm much better off sticking with the experts. Besides, the stuff in the Journal is much better written than the average blog. The same logic holds true for any topic one wants to learn about, whether it's politics, sports, or guitar.

Part of my epiphany came the other day, when I was reading a piece by Ezzie about Joe Biden's comments about blacks. Halfway through the piece, I realized, with all due respect to Ezzie, I am wasting my time. If I want to know more about the incident, let me see what experts like George Will or Bob Novak have to say on the matter. Why should I waste my time listening to a 24-year old accountant, whose knowledge of racial issues is probably minimal compared to that of the Washington pundits and insiders?

I think many people will come to the same realization, and many of these "average Joe" blogs will get less and less readership. And in many cases, that means that the writers will get fewer comments, and therefore be less motivated to write on a daily basis (unless they have NO life or an incredibly strong urge to get their voices out there). I do think the few talented "average Joe" bloggers will continue to succeed, but overall, there will be a Darwinian "survival of the fittest" contest. And most bloggers will not hack it.

And in fact, Joe Schick, a guy who used to write about Israel and sports, has recently retired from blogging. I'm sure Joe's a bright guy, but why should I read his take on these issues when people with much greater expertise are writing about them in Commentary or in Sports Illustrated? I'm sure Gary Myers and Joel Sherman know much more about the Jets and Mets. And again, I believe Joe will be the first of many bloggers to jump ship.

But hey, as long as Olney and UOJ are out there, I'm a happy camper.

Will Blogging Last? Part 1

Has blogging reached its height yet? It's hard to know. There are thousands of blogs out there, and I'm sure someone has attempted to count them all. The problem is, making an accurate count would be difficult. Do you filter out the blogs that haven't updated in a while? How long would you consider "a while"? And what of blogs like Daas Hedyot (and now myself as well, I guess), that only post very sporadically? Does a blog have to be daily? Weekly? Should they be counted equally?

As an introduction to this piece, I would divide blogs into three categories, with some slight overlap: expert blogs, niche blogs, and everything else (for lack of a better term, I'd call them "average Joe" blogs.)

Expert blogs are written by experts in their field, and usually aren't "blogspot" blogs, but are often part of a news/information website. For exampler, Buster Olney's excellent baseball blog on would fit into this category. So would conservative pundit Mark Levin's blog on And even though the guy creeps me out, former ESPN researcher David Pinto of Baseball Musings is probably an expert, too. These blogs are written by experts in their respective fields, people who have spent many years making a living analyzing and discussing the issues they blog about.

Niche blogs aren't necessarily written by experts, but they discuss issues and ideas you won't hear about anywhere else. The Orthodox Jewish world, because of its insularity and secretiveness, is a great breeding ground for niche blogs. UOJ and Harry Maryles give you points of view that the right-wing Yated and JO and the pareve Jewish Action and Viewpoint would never present. You won't find that stuff in any book or sefer in Eichler's, and not even at the YU book sale.

Then there's everything else. People who discuss the same well-trodden issues as everyone else out there, and just add their point of view. They'll give their take on politics, sports, personal finance, dieting, and throw in the occasional personal anecdote or cute link to a YouTube video.

I think the first two categories of blogs are safe for years to come. But the last category, I believe, will be a passing phase. And many of these "personal" blogs will eventually go the way of the pogo stick.

Why? That's for Part 2.