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A Query for My Readers

July 14th, 2008 · 25 Comments

Assuming those of you who are regular readers tend to get something or other out of my scribblings for various venues, do any of you have an opinion as to which of the following two focuses over, say, the next 1-2 years would generate more value added?

  • Daily, hard-ish journalism focusing on a few specific topic areas, though with a healthy dose of analysis and commentary. Clarification: When I say “journalism,” I don’t mean “news analysis”; I mean actual reporting.
  • Less frequent, less journalistic, but longer and probably more analytic writing on a broader range of topics—possibly even a book.

For the moment, never mind why I’m asking. I’m just curious if people who tend to like/tolerate my writing have opinions about which is a better use of my time, and if so, what their reasons are.

Update: I should add that this is less a question about what I should do on this blog and more a question about, let’s say, the kind of writing I should be doing in general—primarily elsewhere.

Tags: Personal



25 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Beth // Jul 14, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    I know I’d be more likely to read the former — more regular, shorter posts (and general commentary).

  • 2 Ashish // Jul 14, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Well, you’re very sharp, so I’m sure your output would be worth reading regardless. That said, I enjoy your commentary on philosophical issues more than your hard journalism because I generally have deontological reasons for agreeing with your detail-oriented policy analysis whereas your dissection of ethical issues often makes me think of the topics at hand in a different light altogether, and I suspect a lot of people who have come across this blog feel that way. Moreover, a longer project like a book might be more fruitful for you because I’m sure there are a lot of issues (the moral status of animals, for example) that you really couldn’t adequately address without input from colleagues and a few rough drafts.

    I also think that you’d feel a lot more pride in a single cogent book than you would a thousand fairly interesting blog posts that cover matters a hundred other bloggers are also covering.

  • 3 John Markley // Jul 14, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    I’ve always liked your longer posts more. There are many libertarian blogs doing topical commentary, whereas the posts you’ve done on philosophy or more general social/political topics provide something interesting that isn’t as easy to find elsewhere.

  • 4 Jake // Jul 14, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    I vote for: “Less frequent, less journalistic, but longer and probably more analytic writing on a broader range of topics—possibly even a book.” This is chiefly because “news” and the like is available almost everywhere and is relatively easy to find and produce compared to what’s behind the news. In other words, analysis and deeper material is more useful and more rare, especially on blogs. This is part of the reason I subscribe to The Atlantic and The New Yorker rather than The Seattle Times and something like Time: the former are good at finding and telling unique stories, while the latter are good at reguritating whatever’s plastered on every news site online.

    To the extent you can make yourself different, I think you (and by extension us) will be better off.

  • 5 PJ Doland // Jul 14, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    The latter, without a doubt.

  • 6 Rice // Jul 14, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    I’d suggest the second option. There are plenty of individuals writing about daily news stories with (roughly) your perspective. There are fewer that can write in depth and analytically wrt the topics you seem to specialize in.

  • 7 Will // Jul 14, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    I think plenty of other bloggers have already cornered the market on “longer, analytical writing on a broader range of topics.” I enjoy assorted ramblings as much as the next guy, but lately I’ve come to appreciate analysis and commentary from knowledgeable people about a fairly limited range of topics. Your series of posts on FISA, for example, were a great resource on the actual implications of intelligence reform at a time when other anti-Bush bloggers were content to marinate in their own outrage.

    On a related note, could we get some more philosophy-blogging? I’d dig that.

  • 8 Daniel // Jul 14, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    Hmm, seems everybody agrees. Well I also prefer option 2–less frequent, more analytic.

  • 9 Cal Ulmann // Jul 14, 2008 at 2:26 pm


  • 10 Wilson // Jul 14, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    The latter. I really find that your value added over a lot of the other libertarian blogostuff out there is your analysis, argumentation, and wit. You’ve done a great job with everything you write of course. You’ll be successful regardless. However, my preference is the longer and more in depth writings instead of the journalism.

    Unless you have some really kickass ideas for reporting. That changes everything.

  • 11 Daniel Koffler // Jul 14, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    The latter, without question. Also, more philosophy blogging.

  • 12 Will // Jul 14, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    Given that you’re one of those rare people who is smart enough to do the latter, I’d say go for it.

  • 13 Emma Zahn // Jul 14, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    What Will said.

  • 14 Greg N. // Jul 14, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    Some of us have been waiting for the Sanchez book bombshell for coming up on a decade now. So get to it, please.

  • 15 Helen // Jul 14, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    The latter, although you certainly shouldn’t give up reporting from the thick of it. I agree with Will #7 that the latest FISA stuff has been great.

    Also, more stuff about Hobbes!

  • 16 LP // Jul 14, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    I vote for the second, and also second what Ashish said earlier about book-writin’ vs. blog-writin’.

  • 17 Fin Fang Foom // Jul 14, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    I too go for the second.

    I would like to see more posts like this one though.


  • 18 Jadagul // Jul 15, 2008 at 1:31 am

    I agree with most, the big reason I come here is long-form philosophical speculation. To be honest, I haven’t really read any of your FISA coverage; I read enough to conclude it was bad and then lost interest. But I still remember posts like the one about the sentient obelisk with which I can’t interact.

  • 19 Swimmy // Jul 15, 2008 at 2:01 am

    You’re a good thinker, and you should put that mind to the hardest work possible. I would prefer the second option.

  • 20 SM // Jul 15, 2008 at 4:25 am


  • 21 Elton // Jul 15, 2008 at 8:12 am

    Option 2.

  • 22 Aaron Haspel // Jul 15, 2008 at 10:06 am

    Another vote for option 2, though I find it hard to see why my particular interests should have any influence over how you spend your time.

  • 23 Julian Sanchez // Jul 15, 2008 at 10:19 am

    Well, I would just scribble in a notebook if I only wanted to write for my own amusement. I mean, I do it *substantially* for my own amusement, but not exclusively.

  • 24 ed p // Jul 17, 2008 at 4:19 am

    I guess i’m in a minority, but I vote for Option 1. We are in pretty short supply of smart folks doing reporting, rather than the back-end analysis and commentary. I’d much rather read a solid story written by someone knowledgable than read a blog post criticizing sloppily written reporting.

  • 25 Stuart Buck // Jul 25, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t you write a post — shortly before the site was redesigned — where you lamented the effect that blogging was having on your ability to do longer writing, and where you seemed to be hanging up the hat? What happened?