March 22, 2008

We gotta get organized

I was tempted to put this in the "weird world" or "site stuff" categories, but since the proximate cause of this post is a contest poll award something-or-other for anime bloggers, I'm putting it in "General Anime".

This happened a couple of times back when I was active as a political blogger, mostly aligned with the so-called "right wing". Someone would say, "We gotta get organized!" And I would respond, Why?

"So we can make a difference." Uh, why is it that we need to make a difference? "Because this stuff is important! We need to coordinate our message so that we can have an effect!"

Um, include me out. I'm not interested in coordinating anything. For me, USS Clueless was always high-tech vanity press, a place to post my writing because I like to write and it's more fun if I have readers. I'm always very suspicious of people who are too earnest, who take themselves too seriously.

I'm sure that my writing for USS Clueless had an effect. I'm equally sure that it was negligible in the grand scheme of things. I may have influenced the opinions of hundreds of people, maybe even thousands -- but there are hundreds of millions of people in this country, and billions in the world, and the vast majority of them have never heard of me and never read anything I've written. Which is just as well.

When I got tired of excessive earnestness from other bloggers and especially from my readers, I decided to blog about something interesting, trivial, and completely unimportant. That's why I blog about anime.

Now some anime bloggers out there have decided that We Who Blog About Anime have to get organized. I'm still waiting for someone to explain why that's important.

I don't seem to be the only one who's confused by this. Pete, Hung, Don. One of the organizers showed up in Don's comment section to answer questions, but the answers obscure more than they clarify.

I received a personal email inviting me to participate. It wasn't sent to "address list suppressed", so that part's fine. In fact, it was personally addressed to me:

Dear Steven Den Beste,

Given the exponential growth of the anime blogosphere, the number of quality blogs with insightful opinions and perspectives are ever increasing. Yet a majority of the blogs out there remain isolated, lacking a sense of community and meaningful interaction. The Anime Blog Awards was created in order to bridge that gap by recognising worthy bloggers and their achievements in various fields.

With that in mind, please visit for more details and vote for your favourite blog. Your vote counts! It would be great if you could make a post on your blog regarding its official date (April 1st, and no, this isn't an elaborate April Fools either) to inform your fellow anime bloggers of the award. Our vision is to make this the first major event for all anime bloggers and something we can look forward to every year.


The Anime Blog Awards Committee

Dunno how they got onto me as an anime blogger. Probably it was by following one of Pete's links. And while I'm gratified that they personally addressed their form letter to me by name, the usual convention in the "Dear" part of a letter is to use just the first name, or just the surname with an honorific. In other words, "Dear Steve" or "Dear Mr. Den Beste". Using the whole name makes it sound like someone created a database with emails and person names and then ran it through a bulk emailer.

I guess I should be grateful it didn't end up as "Dear Mr. Beste". And at least they put a tiny amount of effort into trying to figure out who I was. That's something, anyway.

In that comment on Don's site, there was this:

If no one bothers about the community (like how 90% of all anime bloggers cannot care less), someone else has to pick up the slack.

See? "We gotta get organized." Why was that, again? Why is there some need for there to be a "community"? Why was it that someone has to pick up the slack? I'm still waiting for someone to give me an answer to that.

Our aim in this project is to expose anime bloggers to others in order to know more. We wish for new bloggers to have some chance to promote themselves, the older bloggers to update themselves and the good bloggers to gain recognition.

And finally we get an answer: it's about link-whoring.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Anime at 12:55 PM | Comments (13) | Add Comment
Post contains 769 words, total size 5 kb.

1 I was taught that if I can't say something nice about something/body, I shouldn't say anything at all.

Their website is very clean and looks nice.

Having said that, it certainly appears to be nothing more than an circlejerk.

Posted by: Wonderduck at March 22, 2008 01:36 PM (AW3EJ)

2 Looked into them a little bit last night.  Dead ends after the registration.  No idea who is behind this or why.  My gut feel is that the organizers have little or nothing to do with anime; this is linkwhoring, Google-bombing and/or address harvesting.  Must be easier ways for the latter.  I haven't heard of most of the participants or nominees either.

The registration and site didn't exist before 3/18.  It's funny that there is nothing anywhere that would make anyone or anything associated with this eligible for their own awards. (Ref. to the rules on how long the blog had to exist and # of entries.) 

You'd expect that if this were an effort by bloggers to organize, it would be a) a little less professional and b) have some prior history in the blogsphere as the bloggers involved talked about it.

Posted by: ubu at March 22, 2008 02:30 PM (GeU+Z)

3 I don't think this is about email harvesting. They already got mine.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at March 22, 2008 03:07 PM (+rSRq)

4 Regarding influence of USS Clueless, Tom Kratman has written some heavily and explicitly political science fiction books, which seem to have sold well. IIRC, he has listed you, Steven as an influence and an inspiration. I think he was definitely a reader. I was also a reader back in the old days, and it is not impossible that I might be of influence someday. The second hand effects of USS Clueless may very well end up being non negligible. On the other hand, Tom almost certainly would have followed the same path without it, and my point of view may very well be too abnormal to be of value to anyone else. I don't know anything about any of your other political readers.

I do know that USS Clueless has influenced at least one person to enter the field of Engineering, and this seems significant enough for me, considering it was a hobby.

What anime blogging communities exist seem adequate to me. I also see no need for a general anime blogging community.

Posted by: PatBuckman at March 22, 2008 04:54 PM (BZotE)


I would guess that the idea of "organizing" anime blog-authors would be to present a unified set of opinions--a "face" for the community, as it were.  But if there's one thing that reading anime blogs has taught me, it's that there are no universal opinions.

For example, I'm sure if you ask any ten anime fans what the best anime series of all time might be, you'd get ten different answers.

The purpose behind the creation of this "community" baffles me.

Posted by: BeckoningChasm at March 23, 2008 01:24 PM (kLWtB)

See? "We gotta get organized." Why was that, again? Why is there some need for there to be a "community"?

Because 4-Chan is teh bomb and we need MOAR? :roll:

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at March 23, 2008 06:53 PM (8MwjE)


"Because 4-Chan is teh bomb and we need MOAR? :roll:"

/Supresses urge to ask for sauce on that./

/Launches Iraqi-surplus SCUD missiles at Brickmuppet./

Seriously though, Steven, I thought about your denial of influence, and have to disagree.  Kratman and Ringo both credit your influence, Instapundit has linked you more than a few times, and your discussion of alternative energy sources is still the best single skeptical text to be found anywhere. 

No, you're not circulating with the high and mighty, and influencing their public policy -- not directly.  What you have done is to deflect the "blade of history" ever so slightly.   Sounds melodramatic, but if you consider history's march forward to be like a knife cutting through time, then your influence has been the force pushing the leading edge of that blade ever so slightly to one side. And where the cutting edge goes, the rest of the blade has to follow. 

You got that ability (and in that position, which are not the same thing) through three virtues:  You're clear, you're concise, and you're easy to read.   Well four: You tend to be right also.  Maybe not always on some technical detail you haven't read up on (c.f.:Samizdata), but even 90% is an enviable record.   I'd kill (well, at least sacrifice a chicken and fry it up) for half your ability.

I still refer to your retirement from serious blogging as "The Victory of the Ankle-Biters."

Posted by: ubu at March 24, 2008 07:16 AM (dhRpo)

8 I agree with Ubu on all points not involving artillery aimed at me.

Don't sell yourself short, especially the last sentence. You made a bigger difference than most of us put together. 

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at March 24, 2008 12:17 PM (j9nkb)

9 Mellow sure screwed the pooch on the mail. Mine was addressed "Dear Zaitcev". Later, Impz posted a comment to Hung's entry where he all but admitted his culpability (and went on tangent about reader's participation).

Posted by: Author at March 24, 2008 05:01 PM (qNSKg)

10 I suppose I should be grateful. Not only was mine not addressed "Dear Mr. Beste", but it also wasn't "Dear Dan". I've gotten those, too.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at March 24, 2008 05:39 PM (+rSRq)

11 Hm, judging from the comment's at Don's, I kind of stung them.  I mean, I could sort of see this as a way to drive up traffic and therefore ad revenue (assuming anyone actually has any ads and that any visitors click on them) but that doesn't mean I approve.  Intellectually, sure, it's a valid tactic.  Just not one I care about -- I'm pretty cynical over awards in the first place.  My opinion of the big three (Oscar, Tony, Grammy) is that they're great big egotistical circle jerks; once you  get past that into MTV Awards and the like, you're descending into unprintable territory, and my opinion of "Miss America" starts at " sexist cultural dinosaur" and descends rapidly from there. 

And as for the derailed subject: Heh. Steven the un-influential got quoted on Instapundit today.  Irony, thy initials are SDB.     But don't feel like I'm picking on you (only) or anything... While I'm at it, I'd also like to have Jason's ability to invent a meme practically every week.  Let's see...

"There's no way there's X on this..."
"my readers are broken"

I mean, as useless talents go, it makes my ability to turn my feet 180 degrees opposite of each other look pretty week by comparison.

Posted by: ubu at March 24, 2008 07:56 PM (GeU+Z)

12 Not to mention my spelling.  "weak" not "week."

Posted by: ubu at March 24, 2008 07:58 PM (GeU+Z)

13 Yeah, that happens once in a while. But not very damned often. I think this is the first time in several months.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at March 24, 2008 08:26 PM (+rSRq)

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