When Bloggers Attack

Barrelhouse number one contributor Steve Almond is in an interesting internet snit with Mark Sarvas, the dude who writes the litblog the Elegant Variation. Almond's piece, "The Blogger Who Loathed Me," appears on Salon (you have to watch a commercial to read it, but it's worth it).

The subtitle of Almond's piece is "My cyber-nemesis had been trashing me for months. Then we met, and I had a chance to take a terrible revenge." That pretty much explains it. Although Almond never did get revenge in person, he sure goes after it in the article.

Everything the guy writes is entertaining, and he's got some interesting things to say about writers, writing, book conferences, and primarily about bloggers in general. Not very complimentary, and I don't really agree, but compelling stuff that I think a lot of folks who are in that position (that is, the position where bloggers can help sell your book) would back off on.

On a sidenote, I'm still kind of surprised when I hear "blogs" discussed as this completely new and dangerous thing, like a media virus that could attack at any minute (although in Almond's case, he was basically attacked by a blogger, for two years straight, so I can see where he's coming from). In general, though, it still seems like people attach this strange power to blogs, which doesn't make much sense to me.

Blogs are online diaries. Journals, for those of us who grew up in central Pennsylvania and can't stomach the idea that we might be involved in some kind of girly "diary."

Some of them are really interesting, because the people who write them are interesting, or engaged in interesting pursuits, or interestingly obsessed with something interesting (or, in the case of Most Valuable Blogger TMC, the Eagles). But they're still online diaries.

Don't get me wrong: I like em. I'm blogging in my online diary right now, right this very minute, and I'm enjoying the hell out of it. But its nothing new. The technology is great -- really elegant little software that lets any moron post anything they want. But the general idea -- the thing that a blog is -- has been around almost as long as the CoffeeCam.

I guess a big part of the blog thing is that anybody can contribute comments, so a story, or a post, can take on an entire life of its own. But still, Fray was doing that way back in the day.

Anyway, it's worth reading Almond's piece on Salon, as well as the Elegant Variation, which published a short reply to the Salon article.

And more importantly, this whole little fracas has surfaced one general guideline that we all can and should apply, no matter whether we side with Almond or Sarvas: never be photographed wearing sunglasses and a leather jacket, posing next to a typewriter.


Mike said...

Nice read. Almond really takes that dude to task. And I have to say, his "defense" on his web site is pretty lame. It was his job to talk to me! He totally didn't try to shake my hand! I thought he was looking for directions!

Then a few people posted comments taking him to task (in what seemed like pretty reasonable ways that didn't involve cursing or yelling) and he locked down the comments section.

See, the difference between that guy and Barrelhouse ... if I ever talk smack about someone on here, I'm prepared to back it up with some good old fashioned fisticuffs. Or at least a dodgeball hurled at their head.

aaron said...

All I gotta say is that in that one excerpt of Almond's stuff there was three "was"s in the first two sentences and like to some writing teachers that is bad writing, you know?

joe said...

I'm sorry, but anyone who would actually post that picture and also refer to himself in the first person plural in every post is a twat. A big, balding, uncool, leather jacket wearing twat.

Richard said...

I'd avoid a denim jacket, too.