November 28, 2002
ONCE AGAIN, THE NEW YORK TIMES IS PLAYING CATCH-UP TO THE BLOGOSPHERE, with a story on the shortage of female warbloggers, something that was bruited about the blogosphere months ago. Jeff Jarvis is unimpressed, and not shy about saying so:
(1) Anyone of any gender who wants to start a blog can. Nobody will stop them. So you can't argue that some bigger power structure -- blog executives, the old blog boys club -- is stopping them. The only thing stopping nonbloggers from . . . blogging is themselves. That, after all, is the whole point of this new medium: It's anybody's. It's everybody's.
(2) There are many, many great women bloggers. I don't need to start listing them. You know them.
Even the writer has to admit that there is no frigging point to her story: "But women are, in fact, blogging in big numbers." So why write it? Why print it? Just because it fits?
I don't think the story is quite that bad, but maybe my expectations for the Times are lower than Jeff's. What I think is curious is that the author didn't interview more female bloggers, especially warbloggers. Sure, she interviews Virginia Postrel, but (1) Virginia writes for the Times, which makes it kind of inside-baseball; and (2) Virginia isn't blogging much anymore. (Why not? Come back, Virginia! We miss you!) Rebecca Blood is mentioned, but she's not a warblogger by any means, and the article seems just to be drawing from her book -- she isn't actually quoted. The other women quoted are non-warbloggers.
But the reporter could have gone down my blogroll and found a lot of women warbloggers who blog more-or-less daily. Talking to them might have shed some light on the story. My guess is that women who do warblogs are interested in different things than women who don't.
The interesting thing to me isn't that there are fewer women warbloggers than men. It's that there are so many more women warbloggers than there would have been ten years ago. The Times missed the bellicose-women trend entirely in this story. I can't help but feel that a conversation with Michele, or Brooke, or Athena, -- all of whom could be found without getting past the "A" section of my blogroll -- might have been enlightening. And led to a better story.