Deblogable: Bennett v. Burn

Over a leisurely lunch at a Sellwood Public House yesterday, Tom Bennett, Digital Strategist for The New Group in Portland, said blogging is a selfish act. That got my attention.
I babbled defensively for a moment before proposing that we debate the proposition on our respective blahgs.
Last night, Tom typed his opening salvo. It’s well written and disarming, but for the sake of argument, I’ll see what I can do with his main premise.

A couple of years ago I impulsively blurted out the fact that Blogging is an inherently selfish act. This occured about 2 feet in front of James Keller, who at the time was working at YRG. This elicited a shrug and perhaps a bit of a sneer, because this of course could have been construed as a criticism of a sort.
Things have changed for everyone in the last couple of years. Blogging is ever more prevalent and an accepted outlet for many. But I still feel we are all in some way “selfish” in what we are doing. It now just becomes a matter of defining selfish, as it may mean vastly different things depending on who you ask.

Oddly enough, it’s the word “selfless” that comes to mind when I think of all the content being created by bloggers for FREE. Granted not all of it’s worth paying for, much less reading. Yet, there are now tens of thousands of blogs that do provide excellent FREE content.

Tom wants to explore the root of “selfish,” but I’m more interested in dancing around the word “blog.” What’s a blog and more importantly, what’s a blogger? Am I one? I could just as easily say I’m a writer with a website, and so could everyone else doing what we do here. Instead we have this word blog in all its glorious awkwardness.
At lunch I questioned if The Wall Street Journal was also selfish in its need to publish its point of view. Is every writer and every artist selfish, or self-absorbed? I once asked poet, Jody Gladding, how you know if you’re a writer or not. She said, “you know you’re a writer if you have to write.”
Which brings us to compulsion and obsessive behavior. While I will not bite the selfish hook, I will cop to being totally obsessed with creating content, all the time, everyday. For me personally, I love the discipline. Prior to push button publishing, I was floundering a as a writer. Today, I cover a wide swathe of business topics here; a variety of political and intellectual issues on and I write about the indie, Americana and jamband scenes on Leftover Cheese. In addition to holding down a full time job.
If I saw Jody Gladding today I might say, “Jody, I’m a writer!”

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. Blogging may be narcissistic, but it isn’t selfish. This is a true conversation I had with a political reporter.
    Me: I think blogs are more credible than newspapers, because we are expected to link to our sources, while you just expect people to take your word for it.
    Reporter: I don’t have to link to sources. I am the source.
    Me: Only because you can spend all your day out doing interviews.
    Reporter: Yeah, and what does that say?
    Me: That I’m basically doing your job, but for free.

  2. Yes, blogging is a selfish act. So what?
    All creative expressions are selfish in the sense that they:
    a) assume the author/creator believes he/she has something important or interesting to say.
    b) calls attention to the author/creator.
    Simply because there’s a component of selfishness doesn’t mean there isn’t also value to a reader.
    All creative endeavors have an element of selfishness or ego. It doesn’t make them bad. It just makes them human.