Turns out it’s pretty nice outside the bubble!

A year ago, I decided to start this blog.  As I said in an earlier post,  I did it so I would have a place where I could write about the things that interested me outside of the political arena, and even inside of it ,those things that didn’t quite fit at other places.  Then in January, I made the decision to leave one of the larger blogging sites – Daily Kos.   It was an easy decision in most ways, but not in all.   As I said at the time:

It’s saddening to me, because I will miss some of the people there.  But that does not change things.  I don’t belong there anymore.  I can’t support the direction the site has taken.   It no longer represents my beliefs or philosophy,  so I see no reason to continue to participate there.

I was asked to return a number of times,  and eventually broke down to return for a while to participate in one of my favorite communities there.  The very last diary I ever posted there was to help that community prank Daily Kos on April Fool’s Day.    That was the fun of being in that community, but at the last, I decided that it was time to permanently cut my ties and said good-bye to them.

One of the arguments that some of my online friends made to try to keep me there was not just the communities, but the opportunity to address a larger audience.  After all, Daily Kos has over 250,000 registered users, so a good diary would reach a lot of people.  As tempting as that may sound, the reality check for me was that it was also an audience with a lot of people who weren’t terribly interested in what I had to say, and made it clear that I was not toeing their line.  Another note of reality is that while there may be 250,000+ registered users, the number of active users is around 5% of that number, and the number who were actually reading any given diary often a fraction of that.   For every Recommended List diary I put up that had a 1000 or more readers and hundreds of comments, there were 5 or more which sank without much of a trace.  So, the audience potential wasn’t much of a reason to stick around,  and believe me, having a Rec List diary was not always the great thing it might seem to be.  More often than not, it was a major pain in the butt.

With all that in mind, I didn’t really have much reason to stay.  It was comfortable to be there, because you know where you fit in the scheme of things.    But I did it anyways.  I moved my act here, as well as  some other blogs.    Do I have the same potential “big audience?”  No, not really.  But as time went on, I noticed something – the number of people who were actually reading what I was writing was on average higher than what I had ever been getting at Daily Kos.  No, I wasn’t  getting the 1000+ readers  – and still don’t – that I had when I made the Recommended List there, but  most of my diaries didn’t get there anyways.

The other thing I noticed on leaving was that, besides the beneficial effect on my blood pressure,   my viewpoint expanded.   While I’d left Daily Kos because of my disagreement with the “purity” direction that was taking place, I hadn’t realized just how constricted it had gotten.  The selection of news, the “slant” that was given to them, and the comments made, make you focus on specific things, whether you wanted to or not.  You are “in the bubble.”   Once I was out, I went back to reading a much wider range of viewpoints, and looking at news sources from around the world.   The horizon expanded, and rather than saying “yes” or “no,”  I often went “I didn’t think about it that way,” or “I didn’t know that.”

I originally started this blog more as a way to write about the things that interest me that aren’t political.  Yes, it has still done a lot of politics.  In fact, the single most popular post I’ve written was a political one.   It’s been almost a year since I decided to leave the bubble of Daily Kos, and you know what?  It’s pretty nice out here!



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27 responses to “Turns out it’s pretty nice outside the bubble!

  1. Good morning, Norbrook
    I like this reflection, but I think that in a new networked “pragmatic progressive” blogosphere, potentially you’ll soon have as many readers, and they won’t start pie fights in your comment section.

    One of the things I will miss least is plowing through the pie to find the meat, and I often just gave up and started at the bottom of the comments section to see if I could find someone who responded to the actual diary.

    I am just starting my new blog, but already I find I love to just share what I am thinking about at the time…and have a place to “take notes” on life.

    • Well, the really great thing about having your own blog is that you don’t have to put up with pie fights to begin with. 😀 I’m a little more laid-back about comments than Deaniac, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t slap down hard if someone crosses a line. Where that line is, is strictly up to me.

      In terms of readership and traffic, I more or less noted that because – as you’ll see on your own blog – the dashboard lets you see it every time you go there to do something. It’s not something I obsess over, it’s more like “oh, that’s nice.” There’s the moments when you go “Whoa! What just happened?” when you see your normal nice steady level of traffic suddenly jump sky-high, which is what happened two weeks ago. It’s not something I sought, it just happened. 🙂

      In terms of readership, I should also note that I have a much bigger audience over at Blue Wave News. Not as potentially big as DK, but much larger than here. Which is great, since it gives me an outlet for the “analytical” or “political musing” posts. This one is just my personal blog, so, as you may have noted, I don’t always stick to politics.

      • Was out most of the day, or would have replied earlier. I actually have interests that are a-political, lol.

        I have been invited to contribute over at BPI, which makes me feel really happy and honored. I think I will be learning a lot.

        It’s always nice when you write something to have someone read it, yes? But I also reminded myself today that I write so I know what I think, and if no one finds a particular post, what’s new…. Still, I am using a “pragmatic progressive” default category for my posts, hoping there will be a larger community as time passes.

        Thanks for your mentoring, Norbrook.

        • I saw that, congratulations! 🙂 While politics has most of my interest at the present time, I also have a lot of other things I’m interested in. So, I do things about parks, I have some draft stuff about some various former hobbies, and I’ve done some things about invasive species. Oh, and the birthers, which are always good for a laugh.

  2. majii


    I always read your diaries on DK because they were uplifting, informative, and offered an alternative POV to those that only ever saw the negative. I knew it was time to leave the community when I found myself dreading clicking on its’ name on my list of bookmarks, and I was asking myself, “I wonder what they’re b*tching about today. It depressed me to see the direction that the site was taking, so I began to avoid it. My blood pressure is also much better since avoiding DK and other “progressive” blogs that have turned to the dark side and can offer only rants and anger as a solution to the issues we face. I’ve always lived by the rule– get angry but be able to offer an alternate proposal/idea. IMO, this is a more constructive way of addressing an issue that one has problems with.

    • Thank you. I had much the same reaction, which was one of the reasons I was starting to back out of there. While I was tired of the battles, I initially regarded it as an argument between two general factions over the tone and direction of the site, with the owner sitting on the sidelines Another “pie fight,” of which DK had been through before.

      The “final straw,” such as it was, was the realization the purity and poutrage aspects were the official direction of the site, with the owner cheering them on and joining them. That’s his decision.

      What I’ve found since then, the reason I said my viewpoint broadened, is that I’m not really tied up with trying to counter them, but to look at what I want to look at as well as thinking about what can be done.

  3. Bob

    Hi Norbrook,

    I’m a big fan of ‘thinking about what can be done’ and, as much as possible, doing it. Thus, I can only say that time I would have spent trying to find the few threads of thoughtful discourse at other sites, I know simply visit your blog and those that some of your kindred spirits have begun.

    Thank you for providing a haven of thought and planning of what can be done – pragmatism guided by that “North Star” President Obama so powerfully articulated on 7 Dec 2010.


  4. Norbrook, you are right on about the “traffic” and the eyeballs. When I first started writing at BPI Campus I was sad because there were only a handful of people reading there. Now I notice that there is not much difference between comments and views on my pieces there than their were on my pieces on DKos (except for the P&W diaries which have a built in 200-300 comments).

    A DKos friend insisted that I crosspost a Furthermore! that I had written last Friday and I did. To begin with I was terrified that it would bring in angry people (it didn’t) so that made it uncomfortable. The conversation lasted longer at BPI Campus because DKos is really just read/rec/run.

    I think I will probably not crosspost again.

    • I should point out that the read/rec/run is only for those who bother to click the diary. Most of the clicks and recs were obligatory recs from the several communities I have been/and are a member of. The rec list is not really for thoughtful pieces anymore.

      • Pretty much my experience. Most of the rec’s I’ve done at any time since pulling my stakes were just someone asked me to take a look at a cross-posted diary there, so I clicked “recommend” on it – it was what Alexa calls a “bounce” – one page, one view, good-bye. I don’t stick around and comment, not even for the P&W diaries. The latter part of my days there as an active diarist were spent more in battling the frustrati who were attacking me or trying to hijack the diary than in anything resembling a real conversation.

        What I do find amusing about the angry people is that they’re only willing to go in a pack. The “most read” post I have here is one that someone posted (along with a link) over at Democratic Underground. They went nuts about it over there, but only one idiot tried to come over here and say something. I thought it was funny as hell. Deaniac had the best description of it – He said I figuratively said “If that’s how you define hippie punching, line up. I got some punching to do.” 😆

        • Dorothy Rissman

          Norbrook, I visited your goodbye diary on Kos. You are person of strength and integrity.
          ps. I love the kitty sitting looking out the window.

    • Jan, I am thinking of cross-posting some of my more spiritual musings from “Open Hearted Musings” over at Street Prophets. And a while back I cross-posted some pieces on corporate personhood and immigration I wanted to share with the general facebook public over at Open Salon (a delightful place, BTW) I didn’t want to be notices as coming from DK, even then.

      Jan, I am thrilled to be able to write for BPI!

  5. Aquagranny911

    ♥ for your reference to the great “Satch” and one of my most favorite songs:

    “I see trees of green, red roses too…………”

    Thanks, Norwood you have blessed my day and….

    “What a wonderful world”

    • My favorite version of that song – nobody did it better!

      • Aquagranny911

        ♥ ♥ ♥

        Thank you for posting this and if I’m not wrong this is one of, or maybe his last song, before he died. What a wonderful talent and a wonderful man!

      • Dorothy Rissman

        Aquagranny, I too love this song. I weep almost every time I hear it. It is such a good hearted song with lots of feeling.

        I talked my sister into using it as the closing song at my mother’s funeral about eight years ago.

        It is a song that touches my soul and makes me want to go out and hug strangers.

  6. Nathan Katungi

    What a wonderful world indeed. Thanks Norbrook for your blog, your sane and reality based commentaries i’ve read on this and other sites, and for your humor that reminds us that life is more than the manufactured political and ideological fights. Keep on keeping on.

  7. Hachikō

    great insightful piece, Norbrook. Amazing how sometimes, when we dare to leave our comfort zones, good things can start to happen.

  8. TrumpDog

    I used to read the site and I have to admit, it was initially a little difficult to stop going there. For two years, that had been a site that I would wake up to, and was many times the last site I’d visit before going to bed. That was a hard habit to break and for a few weeks I had to fight the urge to visit to see what topic they were whining about for the day. But after awhile, I just stopped even considering going; the site had gotten too toxic and pointless.

    I’m happy you realized the futility of bothering with that site. They are in a perpetual state of complaining, speculating about what-ifs and constant rumor spereading. They have little interest in doing something because their endless bitching takes up too much time. I only wish I had realized that sooner instead of wasting time, energy and angst there. I’m now thrilled to call them a former site I’d visit and have not looked back.

    • Exactly. It had been a site that I checked several times a day. By the latter part of my stay, I really didn’t want to go there at all, and to be honest, I’d been weaning myself away even before then. It helped a lot that my work schedule made it so that my time to spend on the Internet at all was pretty limited, and honestly, in the summer I have much better things to do than to hang out on a computer. So except for once or twice a week when I had a chance to hit the P&W diaries, I never went there.

      These days, i have no idea about what’s happening over there, although I can guess. All I have to do is think for a second, and I know what their reaction will be, so why bother looking? 😀

  9. kishik

    As I’ve been exploring more of these more positive alternate blogs, I cam across yours.

    Glad to have found this place, too!

    Happy Anniversary! The world is crazy enough, along with being totally more interesting than hanging out at dKos these days. I’m drawn there solely for the community diaries… but I like you, will most likely one day just… leave.

  10. g

    Norbrook. EVERYBODY disagrees with EVERYBODY sometime (sounds like an old song as well, LOL), but I have not once disagreed with your assessment of any given situation. Therefore,. we are both clearly brilliant 🙂

    The P/W comm became problematic for me because I’d see many of the same members delighting over animals in those threads, and then trashing POTUS in others. I felt very uncomfortable, and decided to visit LOLCats. com for a fix when the need arose. Those folks are beautiful to each other, but many are pretty dreadful toward the President.

    People I’ve met on our PragBlog Family have posted that they did not appreciate the ways in which they felt altered by DK – becoming petty, argumentative, etc. For me, it was that I realized I was looking at all political events through dK’s distorted prism, losing objectivity and charitable or even benign interpretations in that process.

  11. Charoon

    Really enjoy your comments at Blue Wave and People’s View. It reflects what used to be called just ‘good ol common sense’. Just found your blog today.

  12. rsmpdx

    I am having a similar response to “leaving” DK. I find my perspective and sense of humor have improved and I have more time to spend on constructive activities. (I still dip my toe in one of the community diaries where I have friends on DK, but I have sworn off the front page and the rec list diaries.) Lower blood pressure too, of course. Now exploring what you call the “pragmatic progressive blogosphere. Your estimates of the effort required to reach an audience from within vs. outside the bubble are useful. I had a vague inkling along the same lines, but it is informative that you actually pursued the numbers a little further. It is interesting to know that 80% or more of your diaries fell without making the rec list. Posting a diary over there has always seemed like a pretty futile exercise to me!

    I’m glad to have found your blog (from People’s View, FYI), and wish you “fair winds and a following sea!”

    • I never knew what would make the Rec List over there. There were times when I’d write something I was sure was going to be there, and it’d sink right down and off the recent list with a couple of comments on it. Other times, I’d throw out something just for the hell of it, and it’d rocket right onto the list and stay there. It was sort of neat the first couple of times, but then you learn that it can be a major headache as well. Here, it’s my blog, so I do what I want in the way of postings, and if people want to read it, great, if they don’t, that’s OK as well.