August 23, 2004

In-House News

I dislike posting in-house news too often. Even close friends have told me: "Hey, I don't care when you are travelling on business or holiday. No need to tell us about it." And likewise, it would follow, no need to post just to tell people I'm too busy to post!

Still, I do those things, I guess, because I feel guilty when a) I'm not posting or b) I'm posting more just for the sake of posting (keeping the site "fresh") without, say, that extra 30 minutes or so I could have used to add more thought, try to avoid any nefarious polemical tendencies (you know, seemingly weekly broadsides against TPM and such), phrase my argument better, delete extraneous language, or simply to employ some more rigorous grammar/spelling checks.

Why do I bring all this up now, fresh from a 2 week summer break when I should be tanned, rested, and ready to blog up a veritable storm? For one, work is pretty crazy right now (even with a Blackberry keeping me pretty on top of the deal flow whilst on the beach). And, importantly too, personal reasons are making my post-work (ie, post 8-9 PM) work schedule tighter as well. But the immediate catalyst for this little note was an email I received that was copied to a small group of bloggers:

Dear friends,

I've meant to send you a note for some time now. All of you seem on occasion recently to have suffered from e-exhaustion or e-overwork (see DD's latest post). Your commentaries are the best, and intelligent people depend on you. But there's no reason you must spend most of your waking hours blogging. You should feel free to blog when you wish and to be quiet when you must or want to. Your commentary is invaluable, and we'll find it whenever you post it, even if it is less regular or frequent than you wish.

I'm not a principled anti-collectivist, but collective blogs are much less interesting...

With all good e-wishes,

Let me first say, thanks. It's good to know at least some of my readers are OK with me posting more sporadically given very significant committments both professionally and personally. It makes me feel better knowing that.

And let me also position this discussion by injecting a caveat in all of this--simply that, all told, I'm well aware that I'm not a major blogosphere presence (certainly not "invaluable" as my too generous reader put it). Yes, I may have carved out a little niche over here (call it, perhaps, center-right foreign policy commentary with a mostly realist orientation--not to mention a dash of neo-con exuberance here and there) but it's safe to say that this blog's demise wouldn't cause much alarm or heartbreak in the blogosphere generally.

I play nowhere near the vital role that blogs like Instapundit or Sullivan do. I can never match the variety of production of group blogs like Oxblog or Volokh. Drezner does more varied topics above and beyond foreign policy (outsourcing, "very important posts", and so on).

Nor am I professional journalist (see Marshall, Laura Rozen, Sully again). I might sometimes wish I was--and that I had long, unfettered hours to do interviews, chase down leads, write long essays. But I'm GC of a financial services company--with plenty on my plate--and increasing post-work committments to boot.

Also worth noting, I don't run reader surveys, engage in blog contests, seek out blog ads, get involved in much of the (often humorous) blog gossip, and so on. Put differently, this blog is pretty barebones in the sense that I don't really get involved in all that bloggy stuff. Rather, as regular readers know, I have some key areas of interest (transatlantic relations, the Middle East, media bias, terrorism, Beltway politics etc.) and, pretty much, write about those as best I can given time constraints.

Anyway, despite all this handwringing and whining above, this blog isn't going to go anywhere. It is quite important to me. Most importantly, it allows me to scratch a foreign policy itch I've had since I grew up as the dependent of a foreign service officer and later whilst working in foreign policy jobs before going into the private sector.

And, all told, it doesn't represent too much additional labor to the extent that I read all the key periodicals (NYT, WaPo, FT, Foreign Affairs, National Interest, Foreign Policy, Le Monde, Economist, NYRB, TNR and so on) voraciously anyway. I've always been a news junkie--part of my genetic makeup involves making the time to be pretty hyper-informed about what's going on around the world. But it's that added step of analyzing/commenting/writing/dissecting the passing geopolitical show which tacks on another 60-120 minutes to this already extant routine that is really tough given other commitments.

So what's my point in all this? Well, yeah, the show will go on--but I will likely be read by fewer people who might be dissapointed when production lags. Right now I get about 1,000-1,500 readers on non-Instalanche days. It's not great--and I'd love to get up towards 5,000 or so someday. But, I fear, I simply don't think I have the time to devote to this enterprise that might allow for a wider, more sustained readership.

I'll still keep shooting for it, don't get me wrong! And I hope that a core group (like the reader who wrote in with the email above) will forgive me my lapses in production (or days where the prose seems harried) and nevertheless keep coming back.

Thoughts, support, round castigations, hearty yawns--all welcomed in comments below.

Some questions to aid any discussion: I trust most readers would prefer a couple days of blog staleness as compared to very rapid-fire posting that doesn't add that much by substance? Do I write too much about some topics? Too little about others? Lemme know...

Oh, and whilst on the topic of in-house matters a final note. Don't bother clicking through on the category archives right now. I haven't really gotten into the habit of selecting the categories before I post just yet--and haven't gone back to insert category specifications to posts that predate the move from blogspot to MT.

OK, more later....

UPDATE: My girlfriend's unimpressed reaction to my post above: "What happened? I've never seen you write anything like this. It looks like you're having a really long conversation with yourself and decided to post it."

She's gotta point....a rambling, solipsistic, indulgent post this. I promise to keep this stuff to a minimum going forward!

Posted by Gregory at August 23, 2004 02:05 PM

You blog, we read, we learn, we become better people.

You not blog, we bored, we slash little old ladies' motorbike tyres and suchlike.

You therefore provide public service and save Police fortune in Anti Social Behaviour Orders for blogwatchers like us!

Posted by: dave t at August 23, 2004 04:56 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

you seem to have dropped the arab-israeli peace process? why? (note: this question is not meant sarcastically).

Posted by: gg at August 23, 2004 06:50 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

you've dropped abu ghraib since it fell off the main pages. but investigations are grinding on (and moving to higher levels); and rummy is still scot free and operating with impunity. short attention span at B.D.? more follow through would be good sometimes.

Posted by: aplx at August 23, 2004 06:56 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Do watchya feel, Greg.

You're usually wrong, but at least it's a thoughtful wrongness.

We need more grown-up Republicans like you.

So I say write when you have something important to say and the time to do it.

Or if JMM says something that chafes you.

Posted by: praktike at August 23, 2004 08:14 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

BTW, I'm reading Dennis Ross's book right now and some juicy insider info from you-know-who's perspective would be HUGE.

Posted by: praktike at August 23, 2004 08:15 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Aside from liking Ricky Holbrooke, I value your viewpoint.

That said, I am for quality over quantity. The blogsphere is booming and you are on my 'must read' list.

I encourage you to inform your readership as to when to anticipate the next update, and spread it out a bit. That way, your readership will know in advance when to check back with your blog and when not to; thereby, saving some needless check-backs.

I hope your vacation was really excellent, man.

Posted by: Capt America at August 23, 2004 10:20 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Your email correspondent has basically articulated the sort of thoughts I have often considered putting down to folks like yourself. I was almost drawn to type an email to Wretchard (Belmont Club) along the same lines; essentially, please do not burn yourself out by posting too often, or feeling you have to. I imagine one feels a tremendous urge to write for the blog every day, but this can sometimes be a mistake. As has been said in another comment - quality is much more important.


Posted by: Alastair at August 23, 2004 10:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

As someone who wrote a post very similar to this one a few months ago, I of course support your endeavors. I also encourage you to follow the same advice that I try to give myself all the time: Just do as you fancy, because the personal nature of the blog means that it should reflect your interests, priorities, and styles.

Posted by: Robert Tagorda at August 23, 2004 11:50 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I suspect that we are all news junkies like yourself, so we're just as likely to have news aggregators or RSS readers as well.

If you blog, we'll know. In the meantime we'll read something else. If its quality, we'll always come back. Blog for quality, not quantity. That's my thoughts.

Posted by: Stan at August 24, 2004 04:30 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Only fifteen hundred readers on the average day? Man, I didn't know I was in such exclusive company.

Keep blogging at whatever pace you like. You provide needed, thoughtful commentary. You are in a league with Wretchard and Nelson Ascher (at Europundits).

We'll still start our days at Glenn's place, but we know we can stop here occasionally to put our feet up on the porch for a couple of reflective moments.

Posted by: Mike in Oregon at August 24, 2004 07:10 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I don't want to sound overly sycophantic, but even though I'm a registered Democrat, I'm a big fan of this weblog. I admire its reasoning, its outlook, and its integrity.

I've decided my foreign policy triumvirate will be Thomas Friedman, Fareed Zakaria, and the Belgravia Dispatch.

Posted by: Arjun at August 24, 2004 05:09 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Also, I'm eagerly awaiting next month's discussions, because the Belgravia Dispatch's arguments will have a huge, probably decisive impact on how or whether I will vote in the U.S. Presidential election.

Posted by: Arjun at August 24, 2004 05:22 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

For all your Establishment reading list (NY Times, Foreign Affairs, Le Monde, WaPo, The Economist, NYRB, etc.), you always seem to have a fresh and independent take on the things! Please continue at your own pace. Not only is your POV interesting, but you have a very good writing style. I enjoy the Housekeeping posts and occasional clues to a real person behind the blog (what girlfriend? ;-)

Posted by: Claudia Lane at August 24, 2004 07:59 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

My thoughts are to keep blogging on what interests you at the pace you are comfortable with. I too value the quality over the quantity. Your longer, more thoughtful, posts with rightward leanings put you in the company of Drezner, Wretchard, DenBeste etc. There are not enough of you guys in my opinion. By the way, Drezner may be in the market for a blog partner as he also anticipates a decline in his blog rate with other resposbilities coming to the fore....

Posted by: Graham at August 24, 2004 10:16 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

a few quick takes. first off, thanks for the feedback. quality over quality seems to be a pretty strong consensus. it feels like a no-brainer when put that way--but i think i still needed to hear it.

as for abu ghraib and arab-israeli peace process (including ross memoirs) those are all on the agenda over next few weeks.

oh, arjun, you made me laugh over here...funny stuff--particularly your second comment.

re: drezner, i told him i think he should keep flying solo b/c he's got a good thing going.

ok, thanks again for the feedback.

Posted by: greg at August 25, 2004 01:34 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Just one banal wee generalization. The best metric for judging a blogger is the color, cut, and clarity of his audience. On that scale, you are right up there with the best, given the comments I've just read.

"Continuez, mon enfant, continuez!" as the French admiral said to the Ivoirien sailor who averred "Je suis n¸gre, mon Amiral."

Posted by: John Van Laer at August 25, 2004 05:57 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

john, i agree that i am blessed with very smart commenters. particularly as this is the case, i always read all comments with interest. unfortunately, i don't usually have time to then re-debate the issues after having digested some of said comments (though mini-internal debates result that likely keep me sharper and force me to question my views more).

so thanks to all for the feedback.

Posted by: greg at August 25, 2004 12:28 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You have an excellent thing going here, most political blogs are (or tend to become over time) very polemic. While I'm center-left in most things I find myself critical of TPM as often as instapundit. It is refreshing to find someone that struggles with issues instead of berating how the other side is so wrong... ego and the socratic method don't mesh too well. While you don't really tell much about yourself, I can say you're one of those people I'd love to talk to for a few hours in a pub / coffee shop. I just know that while we wouldn't agree on everything it would be very enjoyable and I'd walk away a more knowledgable person.

One gripe I have is that the text size is rather large (on normal/default) and you tend towards small paragraphs which means a *lot* of vertical scrolling. I understand concerns about readability, but if you would work with a more standard size people who have text set for large, etc won't get humongous.

Posted by: erutan at August 28, 2004 06:58 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

To clarify, I enjoy both the other blogs, instapundit is much less polemic that TPM but I don't for the quick blurb then link approach, which happens a lot. Without seeing some of the thought process and argumentation, I have to end up reading everything article he links to myself to judge his statements (which isn't a bad thing) but it serves as more a linkroll than something to challenge my view of things.

So in the end a tendency to polemics and quickie analysis leave me more guarded against what they say, either because the reasoning isn't open to line item veto / critique or that I feel critical aspects may be left out due to the poster feeling they are a priori not to be considered due to their source.

Posted by: erutan at August 28, 2004 09:31 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

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