Friday, 6 February 2009

Golden Klogs

the Golden Klog Final Results are up at The Hub Of Sparkle. It was great taking part in the discussions, and now, it's finished. Roboseyo won "Best Personal/Diary Blog" and my collaboration with Gord Sellar, The Korean and others tied for "Best Post or Series," but Eat Your Kimchi beat me out for "Happiest K-Blogger".

Now that the creator of the survey can no longer skew results with his own opinions, a few last thoughts:

I'm sad that The Grand Narrative and ROK Drop didn't take home any awards: those are two of my favorite blogs, and I'm sad they were shut out. Gord Sellar is another favorite, but it's less surprising he got shut out, because less than half of his posts are about Korea; the others are about his mounting success as a Science Fiction writer.

I think that Brian in Jeollanam-do winning "Angriest Blogger" does a disservice to the excellent coverage he's given to life, festivals, travel, and other such business in Jeollanam-do. He would have been my vote for most misunderstood K-blogger.

While it's hard to argue with Korea Beat, Brian might have also been my vote for "Most Current and Timely Blog," especially for his Coreana coverage early in the year, and his tireless work promoting the causes of Bill Kapoun, Mike White, and Nerine Viljoen.

Favorite New Blogs I found out about through this:
Eat Your Kimchi
White Man in Korea,
Korean Class 101
Korean Food Blog
Big White Barbie Does Busan

The conversations on the comment boards were also really interesting, especially James Turnbull's treatise on how to get your blog noticed.

Finally, I would have been happy if some of the multiple-award winners had only gotten one award, in order to make room for some of the other worthy blogs: Ask A Korean!, Korea Beat, Brian in Jeollanam-do, FatMan Seoul, Roboseyo, and Mike Hurt/The Metropolitician, and Eat Your Kimchi all got two awards (or more) and while I'm not saying any of them didn't deserve the awards they won, I'll also say I would have been happy to see even more blogs win a Golden Klog Award.

OK. Enough Meta-Blogging. Back to normal life again...


Melissa said...

Some of the best advice I ever received from my Mom (and also Ann Landers - but there the similarities end) was: when in doubt - DON'T. I guess I'm not following that advice by writing this comment. Anyway, I hope I'm not flogging a dead horse, or whatever that expression is. :)

- I'm glad that you held the Golden Klogs and I'm sorry that it was intimated (or plainly said, actually) that you would skew the results with your own opinions. I stand by what I said about the small social/blogger circle where "like-meets-like", but I didn't mean anything against you or your piece of cyberspace personally.

- I'm also sad that The Grand Narrative didn't win any awards. That surprised me.

- I think the main reason people think that Brian is the "angriest blogger" is because he sounds so angry. This is certainly my opinion and obviously others feel that as well. It's not *just* his topics but his tone. And, of course he writes about some things that a) help people and b) do not sound angry but that doesn't mean that those posts cancel out the other ones. I suspect that you think (and you might be right) that he is "misunderstood" because you know him or have met him but that's not an honour that everyone can have - and it's a well known risk of "talking" on the internets. I suspect that I might come across as being more strident and opinionated than I really am, for example, when in fact I'm pretty reserved and, um, opinionated. :)

- I also found a bunch of new blogs to read, and I'm happy for that. I've been slowly updating my links.

- I'm sorry I used my own blog as an example in my comment a week or so ago because I think I came across as caring more about having my blog read than I actually do. I've had some time to think about it and what I really meant (or what I mean now) is that on principle (please, don't laugh) I feel that adding people's blogs to a blog roll or linking to them is a kind of courtesy and one that some Korean bloggers (especially the Big Ones) are not very good at doing. I understand that some people only to link to blogs they actually like or read, which is fair enough - but not everyone does that.

And I think I should win an award for the longest comment in the world. Thank you for reading. ~


Brian said...

I read your comment on my post last month Melissa and was a little surprised. But you and others are right about the tone of the blog. About the tone of some of the blog at least. I think people who come to the site looking for angry stuff will find it, and I do think some visitors gloss over the important and interesting stuff and respond only to the rants.

But what has always struck me was the negativity found on practically all the Korea blogs. No, not just the big ones, I mean practically all of them. Look around at the smaller slice-of-life blogs and look at all the people complaining about the smallest details of their lives---kimchi tastes bad, Korea smells, people are pushy, there are no limes, the bread is sugary, etc.---or who rush home every day after work to complain about their students and coteachers. I try to make my occassional anger count, and perhaps some of my posts resonate so much because they speak to the experiences of many teachers and foreigners.

But I've grown aware of a lack of balance on my site, and that's something that will change in 2009. I do not apologize for any of my posts or for my tone, nor do I think any of my observations are invalid because they're controversial. I also won't just write fluff pieces for the sake of being "happy." My blog is good, is interesting, is informative, and is fun, so I'm not going to change any of that. But, what is necessary on not only my site but many others is a change of perspective, change of outlook, and reevaluation of the need to pass judgement on every little thing. That's something you notice if you hang out with other non-Western foreigners (i.e. Chinese, Japanese, SE Asian, whatever). Not to say these people aren't complaining about Korea, but Christ, I get sick of reading and listening to Westerners who can't go three sentences without looking down their noses at their Korean neighbors, or who expect Korean society to change itself to accomodate their idiosyncracies or sense of superiority. Perhaps it's the relative aggressiveness of Korean society---something we Americans should be familiar with back home---that makes us feel so defensive and thus offensive, but somewhere along the line far too many English teachers have lost touch with the curiosity and sense of modesty that ought to accompany anyone living in a foreign country.

Roboseyo said...

Hi, Melissa. Thanks for commenting.

Don't worry too much about things you say to me online: after making the rounds on the Korean blogosphere, most of us get pretty thick skins.

It wasn't you intimating that I'd try to skew results, and I have seen enough of the commenter that DID imply that, to take the comment with a grain of salt.

I do agree that the blogger circle can get self-referential -- most communities end up that way, though I also certainly hope that the doors area always open for someone to butt their way in, the way James outlined, and the way people like he and I did over the last two years. It took a while to see the results from promoting my blog as aggressively as I did in early 2008, and it wasn't until I tried for a few gimmicks mentioned on the "how to increase your blog's visibility" site he linked, that I started to see results.

I agree with what Brian said in his defense, that often people end up skipping over brian's positive stuff to get to the nice, juicy rants -- I've caught myself skimming the write-ups about love-motels in towns near Kwangju, or photo essays about sunsets on mountains I haven't climbed, too, but brian puts a lot of time into those posts; it's a shame photography doesn't stick in someone's mind the way a rant about Konglish does.

And yeah, often we come across differently in person than online: as concilatory and diplomatic as I am online, in real life I'm a bit of a brazen dick. But funny. I HAVE met Brian (he learned about my brazen dick-ness personally), and we've exchanged enough e-mails that I'd call him a pal, and maybe even a friend, but even if I/we hadn't, I think I'd say the same things about him that I have already.

I do kind of agree with what you say about some of the big blogs not linking on sidebars...but not all of them.

For example, ROK drop is very good about staying up to date with a large number of sidebar links, all in different categories (scholars, news, english teachers, comedy, k-pop, etc.) -- however, as James said about focus, if one's blog doesn't cleanly fit into one of those categories, where will he put your link? I also try to link other blogs on my site, if nothing else, to cross-link sites that link to me as a courtesy.

It never came across to me that your comments were just a bitter way of promoting your own blog. Don't worry about that. And I DO know what you mean about the seeming self-referentiality of the blogger in-group: I was on the outside of that group a year ago, and still wouldn't consider myself higher than second or third tier, after a year of work...

on the other hand, why does my technorati rating matter, if I'm getting writing practice, venting my feelings, sharing my thoughts, and connecting with (even just a few) like-minded people?

I loved the last paragraph of your comment here, and I look forward to seeing it borne out in your blog.

thanks for coming by, Melissa. It was nice meeting you online.

If you're free on the Weekend of February 28th, I'm planning a trip to Andong to have the jjimdalk. Keep it clear if you can.

Brian and Melissa both: thanks for taking the time to comment.

be well

jeansdream said...

Hello Roboseyo,

I admire your effort and skills organizing and reviewing the award poll data & writing on the results - I thought I was reading Oscars online. Halirous. (And thx for recommending Namdaemun again). Cheers!


Concerned Desi said...

This a fairly disturbing blog by a man who appears to be predatory. As a woman, I cannot just ignore it. Since the K-expat blog circle seems to a rather tight group, can you pass this on to a women's group or something in Korea?

I am going to post this in a couple more K-expat blogs.

thegrandnarrative said...

Thanks Rob and Melissa for the kind words about my blogs over at the Hub and here, and they more than make up for not winning any award. Naturally my not mentioning the awards on my blog didn’t help with that, but it was no big deal really (well I would say that!).

Although it’s pointless to speculate (and boring for others) beyond that really, one thought about it that I did have and which still might be helpful to other bloggers is to try to describe your blog in one word, and “fun” – which I think always wins more votes, although not necessarily in this contest - certainly doesn’t describe mine.

Mine is perhaps “geeky”, partially because I am indeed a geek, and partially because 90% of why I blogged until recently was to a) get a back-door into academia, which I will have achieved once I have the money for my thesis and b) to get the great big Korean non-ESL job in the sky, which I’m still working on (*cough* I’ll be available in 7 weeks by the way – hint, hint). But blogs explicitly designed to impress professors aren’t usually “fun,” although they can be, and Michael Hurt (before Obamamania) and Gord Sellar (when he writes about Korea) are both examples of authors who can make otherwise geeky topics interesting and entertaining for the average reader, and personally (don’t agree tooo loudly though!) I think I’m still quite some way off from achieving the same myself, although that is one of my goals for 2009.

But that I think my blog is geeky, or that Rob’s is fun, or that others find Brian’s to be angry and so on, shouldn’t be taken too personally and literally. To give an analogy, a woman might be cute, beautiful, spunky, attractive, sexy, handsome (think Sigourney Weaver and Jamie Lee Curtis) or whatever, and be aghast if she knew that her husband didn’t find her at all sexy, but only overwhelmingly cute instead (no jokes about me projecting here please!), but that still doesn’t mean that most other people don’t think that she’s cuter than she is sexy too, and that there aren’t still good reasons for them to do so. If she actually likes that, then that’s cool, and if she doesn’t then she can try to be sexy, and she may succeed or she may not.

I’m rambling sorry, and have ended up possibly insinuating that I think Brian is angry because people think so, when actually I think the exact opposite! But although he isn’t, Brian is indeed the angry blogger to many and doesn’t like it, and so that has spurred some self-reflection about his blog and the blogosphere above (and very some good thoughts there by the way Brian) that it couldn’t harm for all bloggers to ask themselves also.

On a more practical point, I hate to keep picking on you Melissa(!), but again I think you make too much of the linking issue, and again I speak because I’ve been there and I've felt exactly the same way. In my case, I was – to be blunt – quite pissed off that Robert Koehler didn't link to me a long long time ago, and was convinced that when he did that my numbers of readers would shoot through the roof. He, and he alone was to blame for all my problems! In the actual event though, I took it too personally, and he later told me he didn’t have anything at all against my blog, and he simply didn’t link to me and many others because he’d rather update his template and things that add and delete links all the time, and I believe him.

But now that he has my blog up there? I’ve had an average of about 1300 unique visitors a day since New Year’s (no boast: I'm quite serious when I say that 50+% are looking for underage porn), of which a whole…wait for it…four or so are ever from the Marmot’s Hole. Naturally there’d be rather more referrals if he actually linked to a post of mine, and his discussing topics which I’ve already covered days earlier without ever doing so indicates that he doesn’t read my blog. But that’s cool, it’s not his thing - our blogs usually are on very different issues - and he probably has hundreds of things to get through in Google Reader every day just like I do.

That got me thinking about my own blogroll, and looking at who clicked what on my site made me realize that barely any visitors clicked on my own links either. And it was already a hassle checking them all the time to make sure that they were all still alive, and fretting about linking to people or not and if they’d get pissed off and never read by my not doing so like I did…screw that. They were getting very messy, and as links to a person’s post are much more valuable for raising awareness about their blog then one of dozens of permanent fixtures in a blogroll anyway, then I just ditched them all a little while back. Instead, I link to people’s posts and discuss them if they’re relevant to my own, and if they’re not then I don’t, although it doesn’t mean I don’t still read their blogs or enjoy them (including yours by the way, which I read avidly because I have a daughter almost the exact same age and with many of the same Korean/English issues!). But again, if a blogger wants to be linked to in a post by a bigger blogger like that way, then he or she has to do the hard grunt of staying on similar topics and perusing their comments sections and other related internet forums and so on , as I explained in my “treatise” (lol).

Melissa said...

have ended up possibly insinuating that I think Brian is angry because people think so, when actually I think the exact opposite!

I actually thought you were insinuating that Brian looked like Sigourney Weaver. Heh. Kidding.


Roboseyo said...

If Brian's Sigourney Weaver, I'm TOTALLY Diane Keaton.

One advantage of having a "fun" and less specifically focused blog than James, is that I CAN link specific posts of other blogs I read, even if they're not about my chosen topic, just because they're interesting, funny, or well-written.

On the other hand, my lack of laser-focus is probably the thing keeping me from reaching the next popularity plateau. . . but so what! Roboseyo's a fun corner of the internet, and I hope to keep it that way.