How (Not To) Read My Blog

Perhaps you've just stumbled across my blog? Welcome! It's a pleasure to have you here.

Perhaps you've read a few posts and are thinking wow, this Andrew Molitor guy sure is a blockhead, he's wrong about so much and you're girding your loins to make some witty, cutting, comments to correct me and set me on the right path at last.

That is wonderful! Comment away. I enjoy the cut and thrust of a good discussion. But let me offer you a few words before you get out the Angry Keyboard.

Most things you read on the Internet are someone clumsily regurgitating some stock opinions or ideas they picked up somewhere else on the web. Sometimes they are cutting and pasting, more more commonly they're just repeating the standard chants of their tribe all the while imagining that these are original thoughts.

If you come across a piece entitled "SONY Cameras are Awesome but their Color Science is Shit" you don't really need to read any more, do you? I mean, it's all right there. Sure, there's 10,000 words and a lot of terrible sample photos and probably some charts and graphs, and some affiliate links and a link to the author's Patreon and their online store, but you can certainly comment sensibly without looking at a single word of the content.

As a consequence, you can read most things on the Internet accurately enough by skimming them for a few keywords, phrases, an idea or two. The title will often tell you everything you need to know. Having identified the stock opinion being regurgitated, you can simply respond to that (by, generally, regurgitating your stock opinion). This works tolerably well, although the result only resembles discourse superficially. It certainly produces text, and recreates much of the flavor of debate without actually requiring any effort from anyone involved.

That won't work here.

If I have a mission of any sort here, it is to say something new in every post. I probably don't succeed very often, but at any rate it produces posts that are not merely repetitions of the obvious. The "scan for keywords" method is designed to match a piece of writing against a pretty small selection of canned material, and my posts rarely match any of those canned items. Sometimes it's because what I am saying is completely crazy and stupid, nobody has ever said it before. Sometimes it's because my post happens to be a clumsy repetition of something that's kind of obscure. Occasionally, I like to think, it is because I am in fact saying something genuinely new and intelligent.

Anyways, if you "skim and match" you'll probably come up with some canned item that you think you've detected, and it will be wrong. I get a surprising number of comments from people who clearly have no idea what I was writing about, but which are also sufficiently coherent that they are neither bots nor spam. It's just someone who didn't read what I wrote, not really. They skimmed, decided I was talking about X, and replied to that. Since the piece is about Y, which has nothing to do with X, the comment simply looks stupid, and I generally reply with something like I do not think you understand the point I was trying to make and leave it at that.

Generally, you have to read all the words, and you have to think about them a little. Sometimes you have to think about them a lot. I tend to write these things quite quickly, and as a result sometimes the actual intended meaning isn't made, well, quite as clear as I hoped. Sorry about that, but that is the nature of this particular beast.

4 comments:

  1. "…and as a result sometimes to [sic] actual intended meaning isn't made, well, quite as clear as I hoped."

    Then there is the writer who doesn't even bother to reread what he has written—yet demands the reader to do so.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't be an idiot. It's not that I don't proofread, because obviously I do.

      Thanks for the typo, fixed.

      Delete
  2. In your comment on Kirk Tuck's blog this morning, you wrote "But now the bar is higher, or at any rate we can reach heights previously unreachable. There are a handful of artists who seem to be to be doing something more, they have discovered a plateau that Szarkowski never dreamed of. To my eye, there are people, not many, who can do things with collections of pictures that transcend what we might loosely consider the 20th century model of photography."

    I'd be very interested in who you think belong in that handful, if you'd care to tell. Thanks in advance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In order of how likely you are to have heard of them:

      Karel Kravik
      Frédérick Carnet
      Scarlett Coten
      Katrin Koenning

      Sally Mann

      All of these people are doing, with varying degrees of reliability, that thing where a bunch of photos together adds up to more than the sum of the parts.

      Some of them, obviously, have representation and are doing Very Well, Thank You. Others, less so. All are, to my eye, worthy, and are doing something that is distinctly *more* than simply taking good individual photographs.

      Delete