[a follow up on “making space for creative credo” / and turning off blog comments]

Debates are wrenching for absolutists and purists; thrilling for the open-minded questers; and neither here nor there for what Lao Tzu calls, those “with no preferences…for whom the way is fluid and light.” I’m an open-minded, strongly particular, highly tolerant, purist. I love and hate debates. I have a tendency to break the Rules of Debate. (That’s a foreshadowing. Read on…)

I am deeply digging the current discussion about social media conversation, specifically whether to have comments on or off on blogs. When I turned off the commenting function on WhiteHotTruth last month, here’s what happened:

Quick measurables:
: 3 blogger friends with large sites each told me that week that they would love to do the same thing, but it wasn’t quite right for their business model, or they were too chicken shit. But it’s tempting
: 30+ people emailed me to say, “respect, love, way!” No one emailed me directly to call me bad names – I expected a few nasty emails, not one.
: 8 people unsubscribed. 20 more subscribed.
: A bunch of The Fire Starter Sessions programs sold.

Inner status:
I felt deep peace and artsy-honouring. The vibe in my live-work space shifted. I had three sizzlin’ creative ideas the next day that were keepers.

Rumbles in the jungle:
Charlie Gilkey, who is dependably thoughtful, wrote, “Why I Leave Comments Open” and generated plenty of convo:

… Why even have a blog if you don’t want to interact with your readers?
… A blogger refusing to take comments would be like an artist refusing to take part in a critique.
… It just seems to me that an artist’s existence is entirely based on audience… without an audience we are nothing.
… Although I logically understand, there’s an emotional disconnect to bloggers that disable comments. To me, it’s a very subtle way to say, “Your thoughts are not worth my time.”

Mark Silver (another high-minded dude,) wrote:
… In making risky choices, one often tries to find comfort by moving in packs. But sometimes that’s not possible, and making the risky choice means going it alone- or nearly alone. The risky choice can be completely right for the person making it, and completely not right for anyone else.

InformationJunkies posited, “Why close comments when they can provide an insight into what our reading community is talking about?”

Not related to my announcement:

Everett Bogue turned off blog comments while he was on vacation, and decided to leave them off.

Mitch Joel from Six Pixels of Separation wrote a piece called, The End of Conversation in Social Media.

He dug up this music-to-my-ears, from Dave Winer, who PC World calls the “The father of modern-day content distribution” and The NY Times deemed the “The protoblogger.”

I know some people think that blogs are conversations, but I don’t. I think they’re publications. (You can read Winer’s full article here.)

I’m with Winer.



4 righteous bits on art + interactivity

  1. Don’t be glamoured by the medium.

“Blogs beg to be interactive,” someone said in this no-comment debate. Blogging is a relatively new phenomenon. In the years to come, technology is going to wire us together in so many seamless and sweeping ways that the novelty of interactivity will no longer eclipse what’s most important, which is the content.

Imagine six+ billion people having their own holographic “micro-blog” (Twitter, anyone?) When we are all uploading our thoughts and wares into the space, we won’t be talking about who’s got “comments” open or not. We just ALL be opinionat-ing and publishing EVERYWHERE. Like we do on Twitter and Facebook and…and…

“Blogs” are nodes in The Global Brain. Blog as a term (shortened from web-log,) is limiting in and of itself. When you’re clear on your primary intent, this medium becomes a powerful tool, instead of the tool working you over.

I want this space to feel like a temple, a publication, and a prayer, not a town hall meeting. I hope you’ll feel a bit secluded and protected here. Spacious. Intimate. Mindful.

  1. 2. You can serve the collective without being community-centric.

… just ask any eccentric painter, or reclusive writer, or monk.

My primary intention is to inspire individuals to be conscious individuals so that they can…serve the whole. Community is a positive, unintentional consequence of publishing in this globally-wired medium. If my primary intention was to create community and forum, I would invert my whole business model and take a back seat to watch the system self-organize, and I’d respond to what was emerging “out there.” It’s a beautiful way to foster change, but it doesn’t fit with with my true strengths, or the fire in my heart.

  1. 3. Pure art is not about pleasing your audience.

It’s about getting the art out in it’s true form, which is no small undertaking. And therein lies the service.

When you do what you do solely to be loved, or buzzed about, your rudder will start to crack. If your esteem depends on being liked for your beliefs or opinions…whoa.

Respect…I want it, of course, of course. I want love, connection, and the joy of admiration, but the art has to come first, or I’m just not that interested in the commerce. If I start writing philosophy “for” an audience, I’m fucked. This ain’t no fiction novel. This is my life.

Anticipation can be deadly to art:

Why I Don’t Have Comments, by Seth Godin:

… I think comments are terrific, and they are the key attraction for some blogs and some bloggers. Not for me, though. First, I feel compelled to clarify or to answer every objection or to point out every flaw in reasoning. Second, it takes way too much of my time to even think about them, never mind curate them. And finally, and most important for you, it permanently changes the way I write. Instead of writing for everyone, I find myself writing in anticipation of the commenters.

  1. 4. Everything is energy.

Comments. Links. Thoughts thunk or tweeted or sent in bytes. Data files. Crowded in-boxes. It’s all energy being moved around. Call it society, culture, universal consciousness, intelligence, or the morphogenic field, we are constantly depositing and withdrawing and otherwise distributing stuff from the cosmic space.

So I can’t, as some have suggested, leave comments on and “just not pay that much attention to them…let people talk amongst themselves.” That’s like having people over for dinner and hiding out in your bedroom. I hear stuff. I’m “compelled.”

But more than that…I’m devoted, primarily, to keeping it real ’round here.
That’s the best I can do.


Honour the intent. Master the tool.