The Task of a Blogger


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | August 25, 2010      

Not a day goes by that I don’t think of the thousands of readers who are checking this page out, and whether what we’re publishing about backcountry skiing is worth your time.

Thus, thanks for the nice phone call yesterday from a longtime friend and WildSnow supporter. Actually, a couple of phone calls, from a couple of readers.

Points of yesterday’s conversations involved the issue of blog style and voice. I’ve been told over and over again that what people like about WildSnow is that we stay true to core backcountry skiing, but without as much of the chest pounding bluster (and sometimes overt negativity) you’ll find in other venues. Readers say we touch the spirit of the sport, but in a unique way since we have such a depth of experience and industry connections. At the same time, they point out we’re always dancing on the edge of a cornice as we mix a pinch of humility with a dose self confidence — the ingredients that hopefully produce good writing but can easily segue to boorish junk.

Not that we’re against good natured bragging now and then, and I can’t say any of our writing is as good as it could be. But as an editor and writer I do put in as much time as physically possible to refine our word. To that end, along with trying to improve our basic craft I make it a mission to look for the humanity in the greater sphere covered by the subject of “backcountry skiing.” That means looking for deeper sharing in our trip reports. It also means reporting on the triumphs of technology in our gear reviews, as well as its failings.

To that end, I had an epiphany yesterday that was instigated by my friend’s voices on my phone. I have no doubt that WildSnow.com reached another level in the blogosphere with epic publishing sessions such as our coverage of the Salomon Quest tech fittings debacle and our WildSnow Denali field blogging. An obvious increase in readership bears this out. All well and good. Fun even. But, in my view, along with another level of content and readership numbers does come some responsibility on the part of the blogger (be he the editor or writer).

So, what came to me so strong was that we do need to watch what we publish. Every day. Every minute we are editing and writing. We need to keep that mix of self confidence and humility, pride and youthful exuberance, technology worship and cynicism, humor and serious.

Writer Simon Dumenco said this about blogging “There is no such thing as a blogger. Blogging is just writing — writing using a particularly efficient type of publishing technology.”

I’d add that yeah, blogging is just writing. But, it’s also writing that involves the voices of readers in the form of comments. In that, we have hit the ball out of the park and I thank all of you for the amazing contributions and feedback you keep shooting this way. Comments, phone calls, talks on the street — all that keeps me striving to improve what we’re doing here. Thanks for the help.



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Comments

27 Responses to “The Task of a Blogger”

  1. Dostie August 25th, 2010 10:22 am

    Here, here!

  2. Michael Kennedy August 25th, 2010 10:33 am

    Good thoughts, Lou. And keep up the great work!

  3. Jonathan L August 25th, 2010 11:43 am

    When Dynafit sends people here to answer technical questions, you have achieved something other than a blog. They do. But it’s not just you spouting off — the commentary, the back and forth debate and the quick revision of technical information has made this site an indispensable reference tool. And it’s fun to read.

    This site guided me in equipment purchaces, repairs, and got me motivated to go hut to hut in Austria and Italy, ski the And the pictures are cool. Congrats.

  4. Lou August 25th, 2010 12:14 pm

    Jonathan, thanks for the kind words.

    But everyone, always feel free to point out where we can improve. For example, I think the quality of our writing could be better overall, lack of that is a function of being in too much of a hurry… upside is we don’t do “filler” content which is the bane of blogging because it’s so tempting.

  5. Jim August 25th, 2010 1:05 pm

    The technical articles are very informative Also enjoy the younger voices of the guest bloggers.

  6. Shane August 25th, 2010 1:09 pm

    The only change I would suggest is to throw us splitboarders a bone once in a while. Either some reviews of the relatively few board offerings that are out there or some commentary on the consistent evolution from Spark R&D (splitboard specific bindings – now in their 4th iteration I believe).

    You would be in mod heaven with the way splitters have been tweaking stuff for increased weight savings, tourability, safety, etc.

    Granted there is a website devoted to that (splitboard.com) but it’s mostly a message board and doesn’t quite satisfy my hunger for good writing or thoroughness like your blog does.

    I’m also catching flak from my snowboarder pals everytime I mention that I’m considering the switch to AT and Dynafit. :unsure:

  7. Mike August 25th, 2010 1:11 pm

    The fruits of your labor can be measured in your page views and viewer frequency. I immediately head to Wildsnow whenever my reader informs me of a new feed. It is always priority #1. I’ll bet I’,m not the only one.

    Apart from the content, I think the appeal comes in the voice of your writing. It is personal, passionate and rational. It is one of the few places I find all three qualities. The “Lou Dawson” is a knowledgeable, inspiring ski buddy of mine, whether he knows it or not.

  8. bob August 25th, 2010 9:37 pm

    Shane, “tweaking splitboards for increased weight savings. tourability, safety, etc.” is, in fact, inevitable evolutionary progress to AT and Dynafit (or binding of your choice). No need to be stuck in the knuckle-dragging epoch. Think mountain travel and it all makes sense.

  9. SteveG August 25th, 2010 10:37 pm

    Gotta say that I feel that the writing of you and your guest bloggers entertains, informs and flows well. An artist is never satisfied with his work. And I like the mix of tech reports, adventures, BC politics, and “See what I’m wrenching on to go skiing”

  10. Fernando Pereira August 25th, 2010 11:16 pm

    Your reports on tech bindings, boots & fittings are an essential reference for the tech users among us. Your experimental evaluation of the Salomon tech fittings was the first solid information on that debacle. Your Denali reporting kept me checking several times again, and worrying when there was a delay. Your guest bloggers have brought new voices, exciting trip reports, and no-nonsense equipment reviews. The one suggestion I have is that, as unfortunately the last useful buyer’s guide fell to corporate-induced blandness (no names named to protect the guilty), please convince knowledgeable straight-shooters (like Jonathan S. on transceivers and Lee L. on boots) to write here more often. As for writing quality, anyone who is serious about their writing sees imperfections in their work, but your writing tops that of just about any print publication in the field. I roll my eyes several times at sloppy writing or poor copy editing as I read an issue of the several skiing and backcountry-oriented magazines I subscribe to, but I can’t remember the last time I felt that way here.

  11. John S August 26th, 2010 12:38 am

    This is one of the finest, if not THE finest websites dedicated to the pursuit of ski mountaineering and backcountry skiing. As a resource, I have yet to come upon anything that rivals it.

    ‘Nuff said.

  12. Lou August 26th, 2010 6:40 am

    All, you guys are the greatest! Now, after I extract my right arm from its back patting position over my left shoulder, and get it back to the keyboard…. Let me say that we indeed strive for perfection — that’s the only way.

    Among other things, our improvements will look something like this:

    – Keep the gear reviews coming from a variety of voices.
    – Continue with variety of guest bloggers, with more editing and work on writing style.
    – Watch my own tendency to blast things off too quickly.
    – Continue policy of welcoming plenty of advertising so I can devote full time to WildSnow related projects, but no ads blast over the text, and require most animations to stop quickly so the site doesn’t look like a carnival ride. Also, we’ll continue to only accept advertising from companies who’s products we like and can honestly recommend.

    Speaking of advertising, I’m encouraging some of our advertisers to do mouseover flyouts. I love those things as they give the advertiser plenty of space to present their product to motivated clickers, but don’t blast the rest of us in the face with unwanted glitz.

    Look for some design changes over the coming weeks as well.

  13. robert lee tomasson August 26th, 2010 6:55 am

    no other site even come close to Wildsnow,
    by far the best out there

  14. jethro August 26th, 2010 2:28 pm

    it is nice to know there is a site dedicated to backcountry skiing!!!

  15. SteveG August 26th, 2010 3:13 pm

    Mouse over fly outs! Oh No! But I am working with a 450 MHz Mac so I am surely in the minority. Still use bamboo poles too.

  16. Lou August 26th, 2010 3:16 pm

    Steve, those things are great because they don’t do anything unless you choose to mouse over… a compromise for sure, but we have to let the advertisers play around a bit…

  17. SteveG August 26th, 2010 3:51 pm

    Lou. Roll Overs. Go for it. A marketing/sales guy myself. Exposure= $ and I have no problem with that. With my antique computer set up, moving the mouse these days is akin to playing a maze / ball bearing game. Buy more ski gear or a computer upgrade? Choices,choices. I am surely the minority as technology goes. Do love playing with those Dyna-Fits. Your site was my bible to help me mount the first pair I had ever seen. Oh, and JS will ski on lawn frost if that’s all that is available. :biggrin:

  18. eric August 26th, 2010 5:16 pm

    Hi Lou, I like your site because it really brings the spirit of bc to the readers. I like your emphasis on adventure and the grounded tone in your writing. I also like the lack of pro skiing fashion models. If you are looking for feedback I would love to see a bit more discussion on snowpack. Perhaps engage the readers with a bit more discussion on any observations and ideas you have on the Elk range snowpack as the season goes on. I think it would be not only interesting, but informative and help people make safe decisions out there. Share with us some of your insights from all your decades skiing central colorado with its touchy snowpack. Thanks!!

  19. Randonnee August 26th, 2010 6:17 pm

    Just be yourself, Lou, continue to shape Wildsnow as you have in the past. That is the source of a lot of the good stuff here.

    Please continue the strong voice of ski touring- as contrasted to extreme-skiing, record-setting, competition, famous personalities and expeditions. All good topics, but it does seem that ski touring and ski mountaineering as is done by most folks is also addressed and discussed on Wildsnow.

    Finally, I applaud your Commentary and discussion of land-use issues and especially of snowmobiles! :devil: That is a difficult topic that is very important, but it is a topic that is avoided in many venues. The management of snowmobile use on public lands has suffered because of the difficulty in discussing it- both sides seem to flame as quickly and as hot as would some exotic accelerant.! Your voice and facilitation of that discussion is important.

    Thanks, Lou!

  20. Christian August 27th, 2010 2:34 am

    Great blog/site. The one thing I miss the most is more reviews done on harder snow…but then again, it is good that you only review for conditions you know and care about.
    I also really hope to see reviews/comparisons of skins/skis/boots using gps-trace-loggs and hart-rate monitors: that would give a good impression of best turn-radius, glide vs hold etc. There are a few MTB magazines that test bikes and tires this way. I haven’t seen this applied to skiing, but I am sure the x-country guys do this.
    But, again…I really appreciate the site!

  21. Mark W August 27th, 2010 6:38 am

    Hard not to be redundant here, but I appreciate a lot of what goes on here–especially the in-depth tech info on gear. Thanks for a great site.

  22. Lou August 27th, 2010 8:34 am

    Christian, we do have some skiers who can hit the prepped race courses around here for ski testing. We’ll try to do that next winter. Thanks for the prodding!

  23. Lou August 27th, 2010 8:37 am

    Rando, that’s good advice. I have a tendency to push too hard for change, when sometimes I should just keep doing what works.

  24. Victor August 27th, 2010 9:40 am

    Blogging has become a midnight pastime for me as well as dreaming of the upcoming ski season. I like to talk about the many events that are being planned throughout the beautiful Colorado ski areas. Breckenridge, Snowmass, Aspen, and of course Vail. If you try to take in all the activities that are in the works, you will be one sore tired individual. When I stayed in Vail last season I was pooped to say the least! If you ever go to the Vail area I would recommend the East West resort at Beaver Creek because its more than just a place to stay, they have so many great events there as well.

  25. ed August 28th, 2010 9:34 pm

    Lou, please don’t ignore us splitboarders. I know that you are sought out by many of the snowboard mountaineers in Aspen. I don’t expect you to take up knuckle dragging, but there are plenty of capable guys in Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley. Throw us a bone once in a while.

  26. Gary August 29th, 2010 8:49 am

    Lou, your website is like a really good teacher. You are so entertained that you forget that you are learning something…. I like your style and you are an AMAZING resource.

  27. Lou August 29th, 2010 8:50 am

    Ed, I’m actually happy to publish some splitboard content, but just don’t seem to encounter it that much. I guess I’ve done such a good job of branding WildSnow as an AT website, my splitboard friends have been doing their trip reports and gear reviews elsewhere.

    I really like Jarrett Lutrell, the first guy to board all the 14ers. Perhaps he’d like to file a few things this winter over here on the ol’ WildSnow.

    Jarrett?

    http://www.wildsnow.com/3038/first-snowboard-14er/

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  • Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

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