Thanks to Zephyr for pointing me to the brief article by Rebecca Waters about sailing blogs in the May 2006 issue of SAIL magazine. Rebecca draws her readers' attention to the phenomenon of sailing blogs, cites Zephyr and a couple of cruising blogs, and gives some advice on how to find more sailing blogs - including mentioning that the Laser sailor who writes Proper Course has a list of Top Ten Sailing Blogs. Actually Rebecca, I have written a couple of top ten posts, Top Ten Sailing Blogs of 2005 and a more recent Boating Blog Roundup.
Rebecca closes her article by noting that interaction is the element that distinguishes weblogs from other forms of mass communication and suggests that this interaction is missing from the sailing space.
Interesting point. Is she right? Do sailing bloggers interact with each other? Are we a community, or just a bunch of lonesome writers dumping thousands of words into the ether with no hope of any feedback?
I'm not sure. It seems to me that the level of conversation between myself and my readers and the authors of the blogs I read is growing all the time. But I am constantly surprised by which topics in this blog generate the most comments from you. In the past month the subjects that have inspired you to respond the most often have included a story about a jetskier being jailed, an account of racing in the rain, some cute pictures of my gorgeous granddaughter and a spoof report about a protest hearing involving two of the Bee Gees. Of course the all-time record for number of comments from you was the infamous dueling church signs post. On the other hand, my attempts to educate myself and you about racing tactics have elicited comparatively little reaction. But our ongoing, interminable discussion about how sails work has generated some erudite and passionate responses from a small group of sailing geeks like myself.
So what's that say about the topics that interest you and that will spark conversation? You like funny. You like cute. Some of us like to argue about a subject that not one of us fully understands. We all hate jetskiers. I guess you're not so different from the sailors I know in real life.
Are we a community? I must admit that in following some of your blogs over many months I have become interested in your sailing lives and started to feel that I know some of you well, that we might even become friends if we met in the flesh. For example it has been fascinating to read Dan's account of fitting out his new trimaran and finally launching her last weekend, and to follow the ups and downs of Carol Anne's attempt to qualify for the Adams Cup. I have had a good chuckle over Ant's Enterprise racing (and drinking) adventures in England and Edward's daysailing jaunts in California. The interaction that we, and others, have had via comments in the blogs have felt, at least to me, very similar to the interchanges with sailing friends in real life. A word of congratulation, some encouragement, occasional empathy when things are going bad, laughing over a joke together ...
My own standard of whether I am interested in reading your blog and interacting with you is the "beer and pizza" test. If you were to show up to Wednesday night racing at our club, would I want to sit with you in the bar afterwards for beer and pizza? Would I find your conversation interesting? Would we have things in common? Would we enjoy each other's company?
We might sail different kinds of boat. We might not both be serious racers. But sailing would be our common bond. Sailing anecdotes would be the core of our conversation. But it would be OK also for you to tell me about how proud you are of your kids, or nephews, or grandchildren; to whine about the terrible weather we've been having lately; to tell me about your vacation; to complain about those awful people at the next table. All of these subjects are the stuff of normal conversation and fit well into an interaction with fellow bloggers too.
So what do you think about this whole topic of interaction among sailing bloggers? Do we do it enough? How can we encourage it? Does it matter?
Geeze - is that the time? I've rambled on for way too long. The pizza is all finished. The beer pitchers are empty. Time to hit the road. It was nice talking to you. See you soon.