Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Call and Response

Call and ResponseThe blog. It’s been around for a good while now. I keep it. It keeps me. Whatever.

The way it works? Generally speaking, I get up early. Earlier than I would otherwise. And I write. I take care of the blog. And I guess it takes care of me. It’s a little like running, which I am still doing (though not as earnestly as I was earlier in the year). A kind of mental exercise that has become... routine? Obsession? Whatever.

Indeed, I’ve now reached a point where I can’t quite imagine what it would be like to make it through an entire weekday without having posted something to the blog.

I have written before (at length) about some of the reasons why people keep blogs, and most particularly what I perceive to be the purpose(s) for my own. Tended to do that quite a bit during the early days of Hard-Boiled Poker, in posts such as “An Existential Pause,” “Milestones,” and “Who Wants to Write About Poker?

Haven’t gone for the navel-gazing thing quite as often here lately. A recent example was a post titled “Pokerback Writer” in which I talked some about the stories poker produces, and what to me seems like an inevitable relationship between playing poker and writing about it. However, I have been inspired to think again along these lines during the last few days, really for a couple of reasons.

One is my reading of Vicky Coren’s new memoir For Richer, For Poorer: A Love Affair With Poker, which the further along I get into it the more I’m realizing is an especially good entry into that little subcategory of “poker literature.” Coren identifies herself early on as more of a writer than a player, although like pretty much all of us who do either with any degree of seriousness, she has sufficient awareness and humility to recognize that she’s still learning in both realms.

Because really, if we had either completely figured out -- writing or playing -- why would we continue doing either?

The other inspiration for thinking again about the blog and its purposes was F-Train and his post from late last week “All Atwitter.” As the title suggests, F-Train is reflecting on the effect Twitter has had on blogging over the last few months, namely, that not-so-gradual shift among many in the poker writing crowd from blogging to Twittering. They “all” haven’t given over their blogs for Twitter, but it does seem quite a few have. While I still subscribe to a ton of poker blogs, really only a small percentage of the authors still post consistently, with many having opted instead to send out multiple “tweets” per day.

In his post, F-Train talks about that 140-character limit in Twitter and how such an abbreviated form necessarily affects the content. But he also suggests that both blogging and Twittering lack the sort of collaboration he believes is fundamental to good, quality writing. If I understand him correctly, we’re all kind of “broadcasting” -- either in 140-character-or-less chunks on Twitter or in longer stretches in blog posts -- without necessarily receiving (or even seeking) the kind of feedback that can make writing better (and more meaningful).

F-Train is absolutely correct when he says “polished, high-quality writing -- the type that is collaborative and takes more time, voice and skill to produce -- is receding in prominence.” Such is true not just in our little world of poker blogs and poker-related Twitter accounts, but everywhere. The fact is, here on the web, people do write hastily, hit ”publish” without reservation, and do not expect (let alone seek) feedback.

I do, however, think that a kind of collaboration is possible with blogs -- and even Twitter -- but it depends on how one approaches each medium. Soon after I started Hard-Boiled Poker, I quickly became aware of the “community” I had not-entirely-wittingly joined. As I wrote in an earlier post (“Community Watch”), “This here is a complicated, overlapping set of communities where (one might argue) we all eventually get around to hearing from each other. Unlike the world of print media, we ain’t so bound by time and space -- or even other factors that make it hard or even impossible for us otherwise to communicate with others. Here the interaction seems more alive (if that makes sense), and usually more meaningful.”

That’s how I have tended to think of the blog, anyway. Thus have I always felt myself interacting with others, not simply issuing monologues one after another with no expectation of being read and/or responded to. Sometimes in poker we make a bet and don’t want to be called. But when it comes to writing -- public writing, anyway -- we should always be seeking response.

Indeed, to write publicly without an awareness of (or respect for) audience is at best silly or pointless, at worst dangerous. Like Coren, I know I’ve a lot to learn. About poker, obviously. And about writing, too.

So please, keep writing everyone. Blogs, Twitter... whatever.

’Cos I’m reading. I’m responding.

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6 Comments:

Blogger F-Train said...

To repeat something I've said before: damn, you always manage to make me look smarter than I feel.

The problem, I think, is that so many people aren't interested in response. They just want to "broadcast", almost as a way of affirming their place or importance in the world.

And yes, audience-awareness is key. Overlooking that has almost caused problems for me a few times...

10/27/2009 12:33 PM  
Blogger stephenAmurphy said...

I, for one, am quite glad you're still writing consistently because this is one of the few blogs that I consistently read. Keep up the great work.

10/27/2009 1:44 PM  
Blogger bellatrix78 said...

I keep on reading Shamus and I think you are one of the best examples of somebody that is aware of their audience. Keep up the good work!

10/27/2009 2:48 PM  
Blogger bastinptc said...

Overall, and especially in the case of blogging, I would imagine we all hope that the discipline will improve our writing. The same goes for reading other blogs; we learn how to write better.

Although some may deny it, if we weren't seeking an audience, and therefore feedback, we would be keeping private journals. Yet, writing simply to garner an audience is a mistake as much as "to write publicly without an awareness of (or respect for) audience." We come to this with a voice, and that is what we should work to improve.

10/27/2009 3:35 PM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Thanks for the response, all! And well put, bastinptc.

10/27/2009 6:59 PM  
Anonymous play2win said...

This blog is always entertaining, I really hope it will be around for a while.

10/28/2009 9:03 AM  

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