Personal Publishing

Andrew Orlowski is a weblogger…

So a few days ago William Gibson announced that he was giving up weblogging (at least for the moment) because he had a book to write. Wired talked to him about it:

Gibson began his weblog this year in early January. He has posted entries on an almost daily basis, barring sporadic periods when he has been on a reading tour for his latest novel, Pattern Recognition. Gibson is currently winding up the book tour in Ireland and Britain. Once it is over, he’ll end the weblog, he says. “I have to go do whatever it is I do, to find the next novel,” he said. “Writing novels is pretty solitary, and blogging is very social.” Fans have flocked to the relatively reclusive author’s site for insights into his novels and for his crisp observations on a plethora of topics.

So to summarise – he enjoys weblogging, finds it useful and interesting, enjoys the contact with his readers, who also enjoy reading his site where he makes ‘crisp observations on a plethora of topics’.

Noted Register troll Andrew Orlowski had a rather different take on the whole thing, however. While lauding Gibson’s skill as a writer to hyperbolic levels, he decided to give his opinion about his second-favourite author’s decision:

Gibson told Lillington that the daily confessional might ruin his creative process. He’s quite right to think so. He’s an artist, which means he collects and refines ideas over time, and has a gift for organizing his language to maximal effect. Put another way, he chooses his words carefully, and he chooses the contexts in which they will have most impact. (Optimizing compiler writers will understand what we mean – blabbing webloggers probably won’t).

Now obviously I don’t have any interest in pointing out that Gibson specifically talks about starting up his weblog again after writing the book, and that he’s found substantial value in it. There’s no point in debating the finer points of journalism here, because Andrew’s piece actually has no journalism in it at all. At best he writes Opinion editorials – writing that drips with his own personal (and I believe ill-thought-through) opinions and vengeful grumpiness towards the weirdly elitist, powerful, Google-manipulating (and yet trivial, impotent and babbling) cabals of weblogging culture.

Intriguingly this leaves me looking at his piece with a newfound insight – because it seems to me that the natural home of personal opinion of this kind on the internet would seem to be the weblog rather than an online magazine. In fact, if you look at it closely, it’s difficult to work out if anything really is different between the stuff that Andrew writes on the Register and the stuff that I write on When you come right down to it, what is the difference between the way Andrew presents his opinions and the opinions of the tens of thousands of webloggers around the net?

I can only see three significant differences. Firstly, Andrew’s weblog is published on – which purports to be a ‘serious’ publisher. Secondly, he probably gets paid for it. And finally, most webloggers I know are rather better at spelling and grammar than he is.

In fact – rather than just declare Andrew a weblogger, I think we should go further. Andrew’s writing style, hawkish vocabulary, obsession with his own interpretation of events and unwillingness to listen to opposing viewpoints seem to me almost totally comparable a very specific subset of weblogging. It’s terrifyingly similar to the rabid opinion-mongering seen in warblogging’s least salubrious ghettoes (the subset of that noble faction that continually puts ideology before evidence and force of argument ahead of plausibility or logical debate). In fact, let me make this totally clear – not only is Andrew Orlowski a weblogger in all but name, he’s also not a very good one