I had the opportunity today to meet in person one of my favourite authors, Raphael Alexander of Unambiguously Ambidextrous. It was a far-too-short cup of coffee and conversation after work, and something I’m looking forward to doing more of now that he has relocated to the “right side” of the Rockies.
What I look for in a blog, first and foremost, is good writing; a close second is a degree of sensibility. People who foam at the mouth, use their blog to ladle out reams of insults, or who think being bigoted or obnoxious is in some way a substitute for trying to convince me just aren’t things I read. It’s also why I categorically refuse to join a blogroll. (Frankly, I just don’t want to be associated with some of the bloggers you find on such lists. Nor am I a reflex defender of any party or point of view, nor do I think it’s my job to be a cheerleader. Praise I give willingly when I think something appropriate is being done; criticism is given equally frequently — perhaps more often!; there are so many ways to “go wrong”.)
I also like Patrick Ross at The Nexus of Assholery, which, despite its title, is a good and comprehensive read. Werner Patels, who has had a number of excellent blogs in the past year and who now publishes as Canada Today, is another daily read — and I’ve enjoyed Werner’s “evolution of his core position” over that time. Steve V, whose Liberal-leaning Far and Wide is eternally optimistic for his party of choice and has more ways than I thought possible to drag a silver lining out of anything, yet he does not assert his hope; he gives his reasons for it, and thus makes me think. The fine author of Blogging a Dead Horse is another one.
My list is much longer, of course, even in the realm of Canadian politics, but these are the core that, fighting sleep, I will stay up a little longer to make sure I take in today.
There isn’t a soul in this list I wouldn’t find the time to meet, either. Perhaps that’s the real point: all these authors have become “real people” (in a fashion: the non-reciprocal relationship between reader and writer is a real thing — see Thomas Langan’s Being and Truth — although it is a relationship to a person in profile and fulfilling a role and not very nuanced).
Blogging is hard, especially if being generally accurate, persuasive and rational are goals of the writer. Take the time to meet the writers you most like to read. You’ll find they come from surprising walks of life — living proof that anyone can be a real citizen, not just a passenger or consumer — and are more often than not autodidacts, constantly learning on their own. In other words, they can and generally will be interesting.
Raphael, I look forward to our next conversation.