Thursday, December 3, 2009

Wasn't Reading

Larry from the Yankeeist continued his Yankee blogger interview series yesterday with Steve from Was Watching and I'm again going to link to it. Unlike the other times though, I've got a few comments to make about this one.

As always Larry did an excellent job with his interview. He made attempted to address the things that really separate Was Watching from other Yankees blogs - the persistent pessimism towards the team and the anti-Brian Cashman bias - which many interviewers might have avoided. What I want to comment on are some of the ridiculous generalizations, comical inaccuracies and hypocritical things that the interviewee says.

Observe:
We live in a microwave society now where people want things short and quick. And, personally, I cannot stand bloggers who prattle on with 1,000 word entries. Hence why WasWatching.com is "laconic commentary from a Yankeeland zealot." Further, I'm pretty sure that studies have shown* that people who read things on the internet will not read things that take them more than a few minutes to scan through, etc.
*Studies conducted at the Was Watching Institute of Laconic Zealotry. Sample Size of (n=1).

This post is 900 words. One hundred and twenty six of them were written by Steve Lombardi, the other 674 were copied and pasted from an article by Nick Carfado. Apparently Steve thinks people will read a long post only if you quote a gigantic amount of it from another writer.

And of course the notion that people won't read 1,000 words articles on the internet is ridiculous. This post from Mike at River Ave. Blues is over 1400 words long, features only one short quote (and the rest original material) and has 186 comments on it. And ohbytheway, have you ever heard of a guy named Joe Posnanski?

People, whether they are reading on the internet or anywhere else, like things that are interesting, regardless of their length. There might be diminishing returns after a certain length but the cutoff point certainly isn't 1,000 words.
Back to point, I suspect that someday, maybe soon, we'll look at blogging as some trendy thing that was hot around 2007 and then went the way of the mood ring and the pet rock about eight years later.
Mark it down on your calendars, folks. In 2015, blogs will be like Pogs! Nevermind the fact that the two things he listed came and went because they were devoid of intrinsic value. Fairly quickly, even the dumbest people figured out that a pet rock was just a rock and a mood ring didn't actually indicate their mood. Blogs may evolve into something different eventually, but being able to provide a stream of content on a website which you can update continuously isn't a fad, it's an advance in technology.
At this time, I'm still mulling some changes to the future format of WasWatching.com -- and I may elect to have some additional writers added to the blog (to join my voice). But, I'm not certain, at all, that I will go this way. I still find myself going back to the question of: "Did Leonardo da Vinci [sic] have some others help him paint the Sistine Chapel?"
But on the contrary, look at how many people Abraham Lincoln brought in to help him write the Constitution!
Baseball Think Factory is a daily stop -- and a great source of information -- although many of the commenters there, in my opinion, are veiled ivory tower elitists who like to come across as tough guys by taking shots at others.
It's called Baseball Think Factory, it would be a pretty bad site if there were just a bunch of anti-intellectual dummies talking about how much they agreed with every Ken Rosenthal rumor or Wallace Matthews article. And don't worry, aside from what he just said about the people at BBTF, Steve never takes shots at anyone else:
On the whole, Brian Cashman took a team that was a three-peat World Champion and turned them into a team that would finish first and then lose in the LDS…and then into a team that would no longer finish first but would win a Wildcard (and lose in the LDS)…and then into a team that would not make the post-season at all. Notice the trend here?

In addition, there’s a long list of moves made by Brian Cashman that suggest he’s clueless when it comes to evaluating talent...
Listen, Steve's been in this game a lot longer than I have and I respect that, but he's like the grouchiest newspaper columnist on Earth stranded on a blogger's website. I tried reading WW regularly a while back but I frequent enough baseball sites that I don't need another one that's content with linking to stories I've already read and surrounding a 500 word blockquote with a paragraph and a half of "analysis". I'll take the one that "prattles on" for 1000 words at a time and includes some "original thought" and "research", thank you very much.

9 comments:

  1. In Steve's defense, I also have trouble keeping my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles straight from time to time.

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  2. I agree Jay. The specious notion that readers simply won't bother with longer pieces is a steaming pile of horse dung. I regularly write posts well over 1,000 words, some over 2,000 (which roughly equals eight double-spaced typewritten pages), yet still get ample comments on them.

    In general, I am wary of the facile generalizations from people claiming that 1.) we live in a short-sighted, short-term memory society, and 2.) that it is the purported (and often baseless) short-term memories and alleged disinterest among everyday people for lengthier, more engaging commentary that drives this trend. In fact, there is more than ample evidence (see Robert McChesney, Noam Chomsky, Edward Herman, Michael Niman, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting [FAIR] and numerous other critics on this and more) that it is big media corporate conglomerates that peddle puerile superficial analysis if not outright ignorance, foisting it onto readers and viewers, some of whom then clamor for more or argue about the "content" within confines structured to replicate exactly the kind of superficiality that the original work produces. Look no further than the scandal-sheet "reporting" of major dailies such as The New York Post, the vacuousness of the so-called reality genre including "The Real Housewives of Orange County," "Keeping Up with the Kardashians," "Dancing With the Stars," and others. For-profit media, especially, as a whole is guilty of this. Just because these shows and others of their vapid ilk have become popular does not mean that people were beating down the doors of big media companies to broadcast such nonsense. Accordingly, news stories in for-profit print and on TV have increasingly become shorter for one simple reason--fitting in more space for advertising dollars. That hardly has anything to do with any alleged shortcomings in people's attention spans--except for what role big media has in possibly shaping them.

    I think people such as Steve who yammer on about long blog entries and accuse society of having a collectively short attention span may well be guilty of exhibiting such attributes themselves, and perhaps even lack the capacity to explore topics in sufficient depth and detail that may well require writing and original analysis at some length. You know, to work.

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  3. Thanks for the kind words once again, Jay.

    I'd love to do an interview with you guys, although one of the primary reasons the interviews have worked as well as they have is because I've been reading all of those sites for years.

    I admittedly haven't been reading your site as long as the others, and so I'm not sure I'd have enough site-specific questions to make the interview as compelling as I'd like it to be. Maybe in a few months, now that Fack Youk is a daily stop for me?

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  4. Jason - Well said, sir. I think the reason that people write shorter blog entries is, first and foremost, because it's a whole lot easier than writing a long one. To come up with 1,000 words usually requires original thought, not just a comment or two and the ol' "Whaddya think?" attempting to get people to comment on it.

    As far as your 3rd paragraph goes, that was the point I was trying to make with the (n=1) comment in the post. The fact that he tries to make his point by saying "studies show" is pretty laughable. What he really means is "I think".

    Larry - I wouldn't expect you to have been reading our site and thus do an interview with us - we've only been at it for a little bit less than a year. The reason your interviews work well is because the people reading them have a pretty good idea of what the sites are about, whereas we are still relatively unknown. I speak for Matt by saying that we'd love to do it but for you (and your reader's) sake, it would probably be best to hold off for a while. (We've been linking because they are good interviews with blogs that we read, not to angle for our own :)

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  5. Dan - Boston12/3/09, 2:06 PM

    Was Watching used to be in my "regular rotation" of blog reading but got replaced by this site after PeteAbe linked to you guys. So using the same sample size as Steve's institue, I have just disproven his theory and proven that readers prefer long posts with original content and thoughtful analysis.

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  6. I have a problem with Steve's sight because he's never willing to simply say he was wrong, especially when its about people he isn't fond of like Cashman or any player not from the 90s.

    Like his Nov 22 article about the Yankees spending money.

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  7. I like what you did here. It's just like that site Fire Jon Miller.

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  8. Not to pile on, but Was Watching went from my daily second stop after LoHud to something I'd maybe check once every few days this past season. We get it, Steve- everything is Cashman's fault. I don't want to everything on the Yankees to sound as if Sterling and Suzyn were dictating it; but the constant negativity and Cashman-bashing gets old quick too.

    These days, I'll go from LoHud to here to RAB for the most part. I rarely contribute to or read the comments of any blogs- always seems to be too much of the "We should trade 3 B-level prospects for whatever superstar is on the market" crowd. However, I will check out Jason's and Larry's sites now; after reading their comments above.

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  9. i'm also someone who used to read waswatching on a regular basis. then i got tired of the perspective/writing/incessant $#!tting on cashman, and stopped.
    when i started reading the interview, i thought to myself "hey, haven't checked out waswatching in a year or so, maybe i should start going back."
    then i quickly remembered why i stopped.
    i appreciate the respect you show to the blog. i also appreciate the fact that you show Dont have to appreciate their shpeel.

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