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Monday, 18 August 2008

Kick-Ass Blogger Award

Okay it's taken me a year but I've finally managed to bag my first award. (Note careful choice of words there). I was awarded it by Catherine at Sharp Words, "because of [my] long, thoughtful, intriguing posts about the creative process." So, thank you, Catherine.


I'm supposed to nominate five other sites that I feel meet the criteria that goes with this award. My problem here is not picking sites. My problem is defining 'kick-ass'. Maybe I've a numb bum because I spend so much time on it but there are only a few sites that I look forward to finding they're posted something new. I mean really, really look forward to. I recently did a post highlighting a number of sites that I felt deserved to be read more often. At the time I noted they were all males and I've been meaning to do a list of female bloggers but I keep finding other things to do. At the moment I have five other blogs sitting on my desktop in various stages of production.

I have a problem with a lot of the Internet awards that I've run into. It's not that they're not well meant it's just I'm not sure what they mean. That Catherine thinks my writing deserves an award is lovely. But to my mind what I've got is the Sharp Word's Kick-Ass Bloggers award. Do you know what I mean?

I think an award should mean something. The question is how to imbue that award with meaning. To my mind the more people who have the award the less it is worth. Let's take the Blue Peter badge. It's been on the go for yonks and I would expect that thousands of them are kicking around. The common-or-garden variety is blue but then there're green, orange, purple, silver and gold. Needless to say the gold one is the hardest to get.

I'm all for sharing but I'm just not sure about awards that get spread willy-nilly. If I sent this one to five and they send it to another five and then another five and another and another and the next thing we know there's 15,000+ awards Kick-Ass Awards kicking around. Now, tell me, does that mean there are 15,000 kick-ass blogs out there? I think not. Now, not everyone'll pick another five – Catherine only listed four – and I'm going to follow her lead and choose three blogs; the Olympics only present three medals and that's good enough for me.

The first is Dragoncave, hosted by Art Durkee; the second is World Class Poetry, run by Allen Taylor and the third is Pics and Poems by Dave King because each of these gentlemen writes passionately, intelligently and at length irrespective of their subject. It always bothers me that I don't always find the time to respond as fully as I'd like to their posts. I think they deserve more readers and if this is a way of drawing attention to their sites then fine, I'll play ball. (It'll also take some of the pressure off me if I know there are more people taking an interest in what they're on about). If I were to rank them then it would be in the order listed above based primarily on output – gold, silver and bronze. How they choose to respond to this I leave up to them, although a thank you would be nice. I hold them to nothing else.

Being who I am this makes me feel bad about all the other sites I enjoy that I haven't given an award to. I was in two minds not to pass on the award at all to be honest. The simple fact is that each of these sites is outstanding in its own way. There are other sites that I feel deserve an honourable mention but I'm not going to because the odds are I'd miss out someone and I'd hate that.


Anonymous said...

Of course these things are subjective, Jim. It's how each reader interacts with each blog's content. To give out the Kick-Ass Blogger Award is a reader's way of visibly acknowledging and promoting what they think is a good blog beyond the usual link in a sidebar. To receive that award means that your audience is reading and interacting and appreciating not only your writing, but you as a person. It is not "watered down" as more and more people earn the award; it means that there is more interaction, taking the written word beyond the one-to-many to the one-to-one.

Congratulations on earning the KAB Award.

Jim Murdoch said...

Thanks for that comment, Theresa, and I certainly hope you didn't think me ungracious or unappreciative of the fact that Catherine considered me worthy it is just that a part of me – the grouchy old man that keeps trying to get out – is very resistant to … how shall I put it? … playing the Internet game. I can see why "awards" like this exist in the same way I can see why memes exist in the same way I can see why people end up blogging about the minutia of their lives.

The rules that go with this "award" stipulated that I pass it onto five other sites and, of course, I could have easily found another couple of sites and kept my mouth shut but by limiting myself to three I was hoping to make a point and not simply play the game. I see that happening more and more with memes – people aren't burdening their friends with them as much. And an "award" like this is a burden because it puts the recipient in the position of having to pass the thing on which is why I imposed no such precondition on my three choices. I'm would have been happy to write a blog drawing attention to these three gentlemen without the need to dress it up as some kind of award ceremony.

Of course it could be argued that this is just a bit of fun and I'm taking the whole thing too seriously. More than likely. The thing is, I do take what I do seriously and I believe the three recipients of my "award" do too. What I would like to see are meaningful objective awards taking the place of these made-up subjective awards – I've mentioned this before – a kind of Michelin star rating.

The recognition on ones peers is never to be sniffed at and I'm not but this was too good an opportunity not to take advantage of it to make a point.

Unknown said...

Congrats and I like your choices of awardees. Off to check them out thoroughly.

Jim Murdoch said...

Glad to see you doing that Barbara and I hope you stick with them too. Don't forget to have a check into their archives as well.

Anonymous said...

I hadn't spotted the nifty little badge Jim - that makes all the soul-searching worthwhile.

Excellent choices from you as one would expect and your wrestling with the moral issues of the award system is only confirmation of one simple but glaringly obvious fact.

You are, indeed, a Kick Ass Blogger.

Jim Murdoch said...

Thanks, Ken, and, yes, it is quite a nifty-looking badge.

Catherine @ Sharp Words said...

Jim, I think you have the right attitude to this award. I've been named in a few internet award thingies, but after getting 'awarded' that Arte y Pico one that was going around a few times, I haven't bothered making any mention/use of them till this one. The Arte y Pico had at one point been awarded to over 65,000 bloggers, which just utterly devalued it for me even if I appreciated that presumably people thought well of my blog.
That said, I have no idea how many people have been tagged a Kick Ass Blogger - but that one seems a bit more general to me. ('My bounty is as boundless as the sea, my love as deep. The more I give thee, the more I have, For both are infinite...')
Anyway, sometimes I take part in these things, sometimes I don't; it's all down to personal preference at the time. And sometimes I'll name specific people and sometimes I won't - same with memes.
I don't ever pass on chain emails though. As yet, nothing too bad has happened to me, at least not as far as I know.

Jim Murdoch said...

Thanks for that, Catherine. It is an interesting dilemma and one has to wonder how it will be resolved over time. Part of the problem of course is the amateurish nature of the Web in general and by that I mean that so many of the sites that you and I frequent are being run by people in their spare time who – with the best intentions in the world – make up awards because there's no governing body or union or fellowship handing out these things. How one would ever be administered, considering it would be dealing with a global membership I do not know. But, in the meantime, your little award will do just nicely. Thank you again.

Anonymous said...

hey way to go! I've been reading your blog for awhile. I found you through entrecard, the king of click and go, but I keep coming back unlike at other point being that even things that seem superficial can be deep, any honor is an honor and I know you appreciate it but watered down or not, whatever brings people here is one more chance to learn, to connect, to become a regular here. That's what happened for me with your site. :)

Jim Murdoch said...

Washwords, nice to see your comment and glad you keep finding something worth coming back for. I know it's very tempting with Entrecard to just search for the icon and not even wait till the page has loaded properly but I have found a few decent sites through it and I make a point of keeping an eye on the newcomers.

And I agree that whatever brings up more real readers is a good thing. I'm very aware of that. That's why I decided to pass on the award as a means of providing an opportunity for these other sites to pick up a few new readers. That's the one thing I hate so much about the Web that we're all just stumbling around in the dark hoping we bump into what we're looking for. Well, hey, every now and then miracles happen.

Dave King said...

I wholeheartedly endorse your choice and comments re the first two blogs you mention... as to the third, you might very well think that, but I, of course, could not possibly comment!
Seriously, though, much gratitude for the endorsement. Surel, though, if you suggest 5, doesn't mean they are all going to get the award... does it? That would be ridiculous! No, it can't mean that! I've often wondered what kick-ass means. It seems to have so many meanings. Anyway, after all that: Congratulations! Very well deserved. People are buying Blue Peter badges from e-bay, I'll have you know.

Jim Murdoch said...

Yes, Dave, that is exactly what it means. I've not recommended you for the award, I've awarded you the award. You can copy the wee jpeg and wear it on your site with pride and you can pass it on to another five sites you deem worthy if you so desire; I leave that totally up to you, it is not a precondition by any manner or means. This is the point I was making though, IF everyone who gets the award inherits the right to pass it onto another five people very soon everyone will end up with it because not all will be as discriminating. I seriously swithered about whether to pass it on at all but it provided me with an opportunity to open up a discussion (which we all like) and to highlight the three blogs in question – including your good self – all of whom deserve more readers than they have at the moment. (It's not hard to check a site's rankings). If you look at Catherine's comment you'll see that a previous award of this ilk ended up on some 65,000 sites and that renders it worthless. In time this one may end up like that but, for the moment, it is an opportunity to pass on my respects to three blokes who have more to say that I have time to read like I'd like.

Catherine @ Sharp Words said...

I decided to pass on the award as a means of providing an opportunity for these other sites to pick up a few new readers.

Bingo, Jim - that's pretty much why I named names for this award, and occasionally tag people for memes.

Although to be fair, you've had more than your fair share of exposure on my blog lately! And I do tend to feature the same people who are also in my top commenters list and/or blog roll - which just makes them extra-special, I suppose.

Jim Murdoch said...

Thanks, Catherine - I'd've settled for just 'special' or even, 'See that guy, Jim, he's all right he is." But I guess I can live with 'extra special'.

Anonymous said...

Congrats Jim, you deserve it! I always look forward to reading your posts.

Meg said...

I agree that an award should have meaning and value. I've received a couple of awards for my blog, which I chose not to display, or pass on, because I felt that they're too common and really only act as a link exchange anyway.

I do like your blog, though, and that's why I am breaking my own rule today, and passing on an award I got, to seven of the blogs I most frequently visit, and your blog is on that list.

This award is the "Brilliant Blog" award and I've made a post about it today.

You can participate, or not. I just wanted to recognize your blog as one of the few I do consider brilliant.

Jim Murdoch said...

Writing Nag, thanks for that. It's been a challenge keeping up the standard but I seem to be managing. Luckily I've managed to keep within my self-imposed remit.

And, Margaret, what can I say? You wait a year for an award and then two come along on top of each other. Of course I'll display it – I would regard it as rude not to – but I don't think I'll pass this one on. I have to say I think the "rule" to pass it onto 7 people is a bit much; I thought 5 was bad. Although I have my doubts about the award system as it stands at the moment I'm in no doubt about the sincerity of Catherine and yourself and now I've got the problem of living up to these awards. But as pressure goes, that's kinda nice pressure.

R. Brady Frost said...

I have a hard time with these awards. They spread like chain letters, thus diminishing the value of the "award" and they usually include providing a link back to the site of the award's origin. This is a covert way of increasing that site's search ratings.
The hard part about it is that the person who sends it to you generally does so with good intentions. However, it only succeeds in making me feel sheepish.
On one hand I would like to post the award on my blog and feel proud to have been selected, on the other I feel slighted at the thought of forced participation in the traffic generation scheme, or I blanch at the idea of having to perpetuate the award.

That said... I hereby present this blog with the Blogging Award of Honesty! (no graphic included)

Jim Murdoch said...

Brady, you've hit the nail right on the head. I find it ironic that you feel a blog called The Truth About Lies would deserve an award for honesty but, hey, I'm on a roll! You're right though, having the jpegs on my sites, even if they are right down the bottom out the road, is something I'm pleased about in my way. Everyone needs the odd pat on the back. When I first started this venture and was lucky to five or six readers it was so hard to keep going and then the stats began to climb and I noticed regular visitors and maybe all I needed was an award to say, "Jim, you've arrived. Now stop looking smug and get Thursday's blog ready."

chilly said...

Congrats on getting this award.
There's a lot of awards going around. I to don't understand a lot of them. Just I do them just to be playing along with others. But if there is any site worth getting the Kick Ass Award, it's surely this site, for your writing does kick ass. I'm not one to comment very much but I do read a lot. This is one site I truly enjoy reading every post that's made.

Enjoy your award! :-)

Jim Murdoch said...

I appreciate the comment Chilly - always nice to hear from someone new - and, I've said, I do appreciate the award. I'm a little wary of, as you put it, "playing along" because I've seen some sites that are just a mess of widgets and icons and I like a fairly clean site. As it is I think it's a bit untidy and I'm aiming to take the axe to that right column soon.

Art Durkee said...

I go on the road, and see what happens . . .

Thanks. I generally don't participate in these things because I'm a jaded and cynical Dragon about them. I agree with your thoughts about how they spread so thin that they end up meaning exactly nothing. Also, it clutters up the design, all those award badges.

I'm not producing sour grapes here. I'm just of mixed feelings about the whole process. At the same time, I am grateful. My sentiments exactly mirror Dave's on that front.

Jim Murdoch said...

Art, your response was exactly what I would have expected and I agree totally. At the same time it provided me with an opportunity to highlight the issue and get a conversation going around the subject. It is always the case, someone comes along with a good idea and the next thing you know it's been commercialised or something. I know the "award" was just dreamed up by someone who probably couldn't think of anything to blog about that day. There was a part of me that considered making my own "award" with much more stringent rules. The bottom line is that if only one person has a say who gets what then the whole thing is reduced to just a bit of fun.

I swithered for a while about how to respond. I considered it rude not to accept the thing – it's not the OBE for chrissake – but once I agreed to play along the next question was to what degree. Even though I knew you were the least likely to play ball you were without a doubt my first choice and I did think about only passing on the award to you and being done with the whole thing but then I had second thoughts and saw this as an opportunity to draw attention to Allen and Dave's work too.

Allen in particular doggedly slogs away at that blog of his even when no one comments. A lot of his subject matter is lost on me – for several weeks he posted articles on religious poetry and a lot of his poems are a direct response to his time in the National Guard – but they're never rants; he can be a bit of an idealist but when did that become a dirty word? No, all credit to him.

And Dave's blogs, despite the fact I have to cut every one of them and paste it into Word so I can read the damn thing, are also intelligent and well-written and it's great to see a septuagenarian so actively involved in the Web. In twenty years time I don't think that'll be so unusual but now it is and all credit too him too.

To return to your work, there have been times I felt like the only one reading it. I know that's never been a big issue to you but it's bothered me. I have always felt a responsibility to other writers to support and encourage them as best I can. So consider yourself supported and encouraged.

Art Durkee said...

Thanks again. I think your motivations are in proper order, and I totally agree about promoting great blogs. I think I was once given a shout-out by Shameless on his blog, too. It's nice to get such things, and I do enjoy them, and seeing what other folks have recommended has tuned me into a few worthy blogs. Your recommendations were one of those occasions, and I now check in on Rachel Fox with some regularity, for one example among several.

I just feel a little silly about it for myself. This comes of course in the wake of some recent responses to my poetry in other venues that made my head spin: the exact same poem being both praised to the skies beyond what I thought it was worth, and vilified to death making me think they hadn't actually read the damn thing. It was one of the recent experiences that was key in my decision to back away from online poetry workshops; I've talked about that, so won't repeat that all here.

My probably definitive statement about being read by others would be, and I'll post it here because it's pertinent to your shout-out thread: I love it when it happens, and I never expect it to happen. I love being read and responded, who doesn't, but it feels a little hubristic to me, and I speak only for myself, to go seek it out. (Maybe that's a lingering ounce of the Scandi-Lutheran side of my upbringing; even though I've let the Irish side dominate most often for some years now.) The truth is, I'm ridiculously prolific, the stuff just pours out of me, and it's nice to have a container, eg. my blog(s), that can hold (mostly) finished pieces, and that others might stop in and enjoy them.

Jim, you're not the only one who reads my blog. But you are the most consistent commentator. For that, infinite gratitudes.

Dave King said...

I guess Ise jist a lil' ole naive guy, Jim. You'll have to excuse me, but I take Washword's points that "even things that seem superficial can be deep," and that "any honor is an honor". The truth is, though, that on the web no less than in real life the opinion s that mean most to us are the opinion of those we hold in the highest regard, and that being the case, and seeing that this honour has come down through the likes of your good self and Catherine, I am more than happy with it. So once again, my very sincere thanks to you for the fillip and my heartiest congrats on your honour. i now have to think about who I pass it on to. (to whom I pass it on - do I have to watch my grammar now?)

Jim Murdoch said...

Art, to the day I die I'll never work out why a piece of writing is loved by one and loathed by another. And I'm well aware that I'm not the only person to read your blog but you talk about a lot of interesting stuff. I wish I'd run across your site when I was just learning.

And, aye, Dave, if thee keeps gettint grammar wrong, Ah'll afte think aboot takkin' th'ward back. So just tak care, reet. (And, no, I've no idea why I just broke into a Yorkshire accent).

Hot Rocks said...

Congratulations on your award! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your was "kick ass"!

Jim Murdoch said...

Thanks for that comment, Hot Rocks - maybe you'd like to have a rummage around my archive to see what Catherine thought was "kick-ass".

Art Durkee said...

Another thought in between everything else, and probably not very relevant:

I have an unwritten, unspoken rule for my blog, which I have only broken twice that I recall in over 300 posts:

I keep comments on the blog ABOUT the blog to an absolute minimum. This is about writing, not about the medium. What I'm saying could be in a book, in a newspaper, or in the blog. The Dragoncave is for posting more or less finished pieces, and for gathering together more or less finished pieces so that I can see patterns, do some editing and polishing, and "publish" them. At the back of my mind has always been ambition to gather some or most of these into a book.

So for the recognition and encouragement I remain very grateful. And posting on my blog about any of this feels to my like "breaking the fourth wall," and I'm reluctant to do it. I always have been. I feel like, for that blog anyway, I need to keep the fourth wall intact. On my other Road Journal, I have no such constraint; and of course the comments are fair game for any sidebar issues and related discussions, even self-referential ones.

just a thought or two further this early morning before I get on the road again.

Jim Murdoch said...

Art, only having the one outlet – the website is more of a glorified CV – I'm a bit more flexible but I'm really here to talk about writing and writing-related issues and I don't like to spend too much time on other subjects. That said, this virtual environment is where we all interact and I don't mind getting involved every now and then in discussing its future. There will always be various strata and some will bury their sites in widgets and sparklies and that's fine. There are others who present a more professional front and I'm keen to be found amongst them to the limit of my coding abilities anyway.

I think it's been a worthwhile topic though and I'm glad I raised it.

The Success said...

I like your blog topic
The Truth About Lie...

The Success

Anonymous said...

Jim, not only is your writing "kick-ass," but so is this discussion. It raises quite a few valid points, not only about the floating awards, but blogging as a serious medium for self publishing.

I share the feelings about the drop-and-go system and that the great blogs are not the majority. As frustrating as it is, the same can be said about magazines, newspapers and books (and music and art, etc.). The medium is the same, just different. The drop-and-go can be compared to a book sitting on a shelf in a bookstore, watching people go by without even thumbing through the pages. What's worse is sitting on a shelf next to a, say, romance novel that is picked up instead. That's what happens when a book store is located next to a Dollar Store.

So, it comes down to ways of appealing to the desired niche audience while making your art available to the widest possible number of eyes to expand that niche. How? I have no idea!

Jim Murdoch said...

Theresa, yes, one of these days I'm just going to post a blog with nothing but a question and leave them to it.

As for catching the eye of the passerby... I read a lot about web design before I started this venture and the most consistent theme was simplicity. I honestly think my blog is too cluttered as it stands. One of the sites I love for its clean lines is Down In Me - very fresh and minimal. I will get round to a redesign soon.

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