The New York Times, full of schadenfreude and concern, runs a story about pro bloggers and their unhealthy lifestyles, which may have contributed to the death of two prominent (if older) tech bloggers and the heart attack of Om Malik. It also reveals that pro bloggers often get paid crap and have pay tied to page views; i.e., if the blogger’s posts don’t have readers jabbing the “more” links like cracked-out lab rodents, the blogger’s portion of gruel will be extra small that evening. Add it all up and you get a bunch of mostly-young, mostly-male, mostly-OCD bloggers terrified to leave their crappy one-room Brooklyn apartments, ever, for fear they might miss posting about something that will generate enough page views to allow them to level up that month from ramen to mac and cheese. It’s blogging as gold farming. Well done, Nick Denton! Well done indeed.
Of course, who am I to say: I’m writing this before midnight on a Sunday, me and my doughy, marshmallow-pale abs, and I’m not even getting paid for it. Even the most humble pick-wielder in Denton’s virtual salt mines makes more from his blog-typery than I do. Fair enough. On the other hand, I am not daily compelled to post the blogging equivalent of empty calories — “Best of” lists that even VH1 wouldn’t touch for sheer, elemental shame, as just one example — in the hopes that enough nerdtards will favor me with a press of a “Digg it!” link that I can boost my page views into bonus pay territory. I like not having to intellectually humiliate myself online for page views. When I intellectually humiliate myself online, it’s for the pure pleasure of it. It’s a small yet telling difference.
(What about all those years as an AOL blogger? A monthly salary, independent of page views, and no limit on subject matter. And one of their main concerns was that I might update too much. Yes, it was a sweet gig; I doubt we’ll see its like again.)
Going back to the health issue, I don’t know if there’s much to be done to convince bloggers too paranoid/desperate for cash to leave their desks that getting out into the fresh air might do them some good, since I suspect it’s not the blogging that turns these fellows into phosphor trolls, it’s just their excuse for being so. If it wasn’t blogging, they’d be compelled to stay indoors and out of the sunlight for other reasons entirely. And for those reasons, they probably wouldn’t even get paid. The best we could do for these folks is maybe equip them with a stationary exercise bike with a flat surface they could rest their laptops on, so they could at least get some cardio while typing up blog snark. Heck, I might even do that myself.