When I first read about Blog Nothing Day, I was intrigued. Would it work? Would it be the sort of action that bloggers would be interested in? After all, many of us battle with some form of social media addiction, and the thought of going cold turkey after the Thanksgiving weekend would quite possibly cause … well, real family social interaction.
But rather than speculate on the Blog Nothing Day of action, I thought it would be interesting to hear from those responsible. Dino Demopoulos was responsible for dragging me into Blog Nothing Day and he offered to put me into contact with the organizer — Jason Verwey who happily answered a few of my questions.
GH: What is Blog Nothing Day?
JV: Blog Nothing Day happened on November 26, 2007. The date was arbitrary but the cause was not. Blog Nothing Day was created to raise awareness and show support for the ongoing WGA Writer’s Strike. The premise was simple …. contribute nothing to the “blogosphere” for 24 hours. No posting, no comments, no user-generated content.
It may seem like an unlikely or even undeserving cause for unpaid bloggers to rally behind but there was one key issue that I believe struck a chord with our community: compensation for works distributed digitally either by DVD or Internet downloads. For many of us, the digital world is not only our playground; it is our bread and butter. It is important to set the precedent now while the digital model is still in its infancy. Not only does this ensure fair compensation for a writer’s work, it validates the web as a medium in some sense.
This is obviously important to us geeks. The WGA Writers may drive nicer cars than us but we could still empathize with their fight. As my good friend Dino
Demopoulos put it, “Just because we make no money doing this, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t.”
GH: How many participants did you have?
JV: Since the action was in the inaction, it is impossible to truly get a sense of how many bloggers participated. That being said, we did have 35 confirmed participants promoting the event in advance of the big day.
The number may seem low but keep in mind that these were some very smart and prominent bloggers whose influence reaches far. You might even say to the very tip of the “long tail.”
GH: How did you get the word out?
JV: Spreading the word was the easiest part (believe me; not contributing for 24 hours was the hardest). We basically started with a couple of blog posts and a Facebook event and left the rest to the amazing power of social media, as cliché as that sounds.
GH: Silence is an interesting tactic in a time where social media is driving conversation. How do you see this playing out?
JV: Sometimes there are so many conversations going on that silence is the only way to get noticed. Every day seems to be a race to how many blog posts you can complete, friends you can poke, e-mails you can clear, RSS feeds you can read, hits you can get, tweets you can tweet, etc.
And when everyone and everything around you stops, even for just one day, you take notice; At least in my mind.
GH: Do you plan on more activism? Will it follow a similar vein?
JV: I’m not sure Blog Nothing Day constitutes as activism but I suppose it did pop my proverbial cherry. I find it incredibly interesting and even more inspiring to see people with no former relationship or connection join together for a cause they believe in.
Obviously this concept is nothing new but technology has made it so much more obtainable. The web has made is possible to actually see and in real time how you have made an impact on the world around you and it is a very powerful thing. It has always been so difficult for us to realize that one person can make a difference and it is the Internet that is finally allowing us to see this is true.
These are exciting and hopeful times when anyone with a computer can make an impact, even a ripple. You no longer have to be a celebrity, politician, or corporation to have your voice heard. Amen! I’m not sure what’s next for me but I am definitely looking forward to it.
GH: What would you do differently next time?
JV: More planning. Definitely more planning. It would have been nice to be able to create a home for Blog Nothing Day that wasn’t trapped within Facebook or individual blogs. If we had given ourselves more time, it would have been nice to set up a wiki for everyone to collaborate on.
We also only had less than a week to get the word out– The web is fast but not that fast.
I think some people didn’t realize it was Blog Nothing Day until the actual day of the event or even after. I’m thinking we could turn this into an annual thing. Perhaps pick a different cause to support each year and enjoy 24 hours of read-only web. We’ll see. A year is a long time away.