5 Blogs I Read for Fun

I suppose it should go without saying that, since I write a blog, I must also read other blogs.  While that is weirdly not always so (I do know of one blogger who doesn’t read other blogs because “they generally all suck”… *sniff* But not mine, right?) in my case it is certainly true.  Besides the information they provide, reading other people’s blogs gives me insight into different writing styles, and most importantly different viewpoints.  And since I follow several blogs on similar topics, I can also get a sense of the prevailing winds of opinion on certain nerd topics.  And, contrarian that I am, allows me to write the occasional piece tacking against that wind if I think it’s warranted.

I’m not sure how many blogs would constitute normal reading.  I currently have about 75+ blogs that update through my Google Reader; add to that the ten or so that I read from webcomic sites I visit (guilty confession time: I like the Penny Arcade comic.  But I LOVE the blog updates that go along with them.  Something about his writing style speaks to me.) , and maybe a further 5-10 I read from links on social media oh god I forgot Tumblr, more like 15-20…okay, maybe that’s a lot.  In my defence not all of them update daily, though Wired and Geek Dad appear to have me covered by updating a bajillion times a day.  So let’s say that, daily, I read somewhere in the neighbourhood of 40-50 blogs.  Your mileage may vary, but I find that a comfortable number.

Out of all that, I’m going to suggest 5 blogs to you that I think you might get a kick out of.  They aren’t in any particular order.  They aren’t necessarily my top five blogs either; rather, a representative spread of the things that amuse me.

Slushpile Hell – I stumbled across this one a little while back, and it immediately spoke to my editor’s soul (how my editor’s soul could hear it through all that stone…).  For non-editors, the slushpile is the sometimes mountain of unsolicited manuscripts received by publishers.  Reading through it can be…a challenge.  Slushpile Hell is one literary agent’s journey through the slushpile, one mind-bogglingly bad query at a time.  Each post is delightfully concise and offers up just the right amount of weary snark I need in my blog diet.

The Chapel Perilous – Okay, my nerd-crush on Monte Cook is fairly well known in certain circles (and now this one), so my reading his blog should come as no surprise.  Interestingly, it was reading his blog that led to him coming to Edmonton as a GoH at Pure Speculation; of the names that then Gaming Coordinator Scott C. Bourgeois suggested, Monte’s was the only one I “knew” through his blog, as well as recognized.  So I suggested he be moved to the top of the list, which of course Scott had already done (his nerd-crush being as strong as mine).  I love reading The Chapel Perilous for its blend of gaming and personal posts.  Monte posts about the things that matter to him, first and foremost.  So when I read something about gaming posted amongst more personal material, I know the opinion he is giving is sincere.  And sincere passion in the nerd hobbies these days is like gold…if gold were still valuable.  Platinum, then.  At least electrum.

Total Fan Girl – I read other nerdy blogs for a variety of reasons: inspiration, information, entertainment.  Total Fan Girl gives me a healthy dose of all three, plus a perspective on the hobby that I find valuable as an Old Male Geek worried about inclusiveness.  Like me, she is a general-purpose nerd with a variety of interests, and her posts reflect that.  She is also a gateway into another of my media addictions, as she posts updates for the GeekMoms podcast.  Mostly I like her blog because she always brings me the really cool stuff.  And that challenges me to do the same.

Awesome Dice Blog – Okay, I’ve actually only been reading this blog for a few weeks now.  But in that time I’ve gone back through and read EVERYTHING! (putting the OCD back into OCD…five times!)  It first came to my attention through the Twitters because of a link to a very cool little time-line of dice throughout history.  Then in one of those internet happen-stances I received an email from Brian at Awesome Dice, asking if I would link to their site.  So I checked their site out, thoroughly (see above EVERYTHING), and said yes, of course I would.  Yes, they talk a lot about dice; if that isn’t in your wheelhouse then you might want to give a pass.  But the blog also covers a wide variety of gamer nerd topics, and includes video posts from Balthazar (yes, THE Balthazar) on…well, just about anything.  Here’s a sample:

So I highly recommend these guys for your daily dose of game nerdery.  Oh, and they also sell dice.  Awesome dice, so I’m told.

The Unknown Studio – Better known for the podcast of the same name, The Unknown Studio also has a snazzy and interesting blog.  While there are a number of sources I follow to keep up on what’s going on in Edmonton, this blog is probably the most fun I have doing it.  It’s worth reading for FML Fridays alone, but Adam Rozenhart also posts some really sincere and insightful pieces on my city and the people in it.  And he also posts some flat-out goofy shit.  The combination works, and like the podcast, keeps me coming back.

Okay, that’s me.  What are you reading in the blogosphere?  Share in the comments below, and maybe we’ll all read something new today!

Why I Prefer to Hang with the FanGIRLS!

There has been a lot of back and forth on geek acceptance and geek ladies recently.  I was originally planning to write a post promoting the “few” female blogs/sites I follow, intending to demonstrate that none of these ladies are poseurs in any way.  And I came to an interesting realization…

Out of the 67 geek-related blogs I follow, 43 of them are written by women.  And another 8 have regular contributions by women.

I don’t post those numbers to brag, not even humblebrag, as The Nerdist Chris Hardwick would say.  Truth is, I knew I followed a fair number of geek girl blogs, but I never really payed attention to the numbers.  Gender is never a factor for me when scoping out a new blog.  My cunning scientific method for determining whether I follow a blog goes a little something like this:

  • Read blog. Is blog interesting and well written?
  • If yes, add blog to my Google Reader queue.  Enjoy.
  • If no, do not add blog to my Google Reader queue.  Enjoy not wasting time on boring blog.

Pretty simple, right?  So then I went back through the blogs I am following and the blogs I used to follow and stopped AND the blogs I chose not to follow.  Because there had to be a reason I was more interested in female-generated content than male.  The obvious answer, that my first criteria (interesting and well-written) was culling the pack towards women was possible, but I didn’t think it told the whole story.

And reading back through blogs I had dropped or never followed in the first place confirmed that.  Because I had dropped some very well-written and, at first blush, interesting blogs written by fellas.  So I read back through those, three or four postings deep, and that is when I found the common thread that bound their exclusion from my Reader.

They were all negative posters.  And negativity, at least in the long run, is not interesting to me.

What do I mean by negative?  Of the posts I read through, most were of the, “Have you seen this thing and how much it sucks!?” variety.  I can appreciate a post like that once, if it is something the writer feel very strongly about.  Reviews, for instance; I enjoy a stinging, well-written, negative review as much as the next.  But if I’m up to my metaphorical elbows in your blog and every entry is that same level of anger and contempt, then I’m calling it and scrubbing out.  Worse than that, it seemed that most of these bloggers had no love for their hobby.  They wrote like someone who was forced into getting a degree in geekology, and then used their degree to write scathing deconstructionist essays.

To be fair, there were a number of female-written blogs that had that same problem.  And they got dropped, just like the nega-dudes.  Because negativity is boring in the long run, and I have far too many blogs in my reader (I’d say low three-digits, only to not frighten you with the actual number) to waste my time on boring.  I want to read blogs that share my love of geekery, that match or approach my level of enthusiasm for the hobby.  And as it turns out, more women than men tend to write blogs like that.

I haven’t carried this through to other blogs in my reader.  After all, only 67 of the [number redacted] blogs I follow are geek-related.  But I will save that experiment for a day when I actually have the time to sort that many blogs.  I would be interested in that final number, though, and whether it held up.

So to the 65% lady-bloggers and 35% gentleman-bloggers I follow for my geekery, I say thank-you and keep up the excellent work.  To the male/female split going the other way I say: Maybe you need to examine why you are in the hobby, and especially why you are blogging about it and what you want to communicate to the rest of us.

So what about you, gentle reader?  What do you look for in a blog?  What makes you start/stop following?