Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

The Great Interview Experiment – Six Months Later

Six month ago, I was annoyed with the blogosphere.  Bloggers were talking about their blogrolls.  Who was on it.   Who was not on it.   Who was cool?   Who was being followed?   Some were busy promoting themselves or campaigning for meaningless blog awards.   I started blogging to get away from that sort of crap.   If I wanted to write in a competitive environment, I would write a book, a magazine article, or a screenplay — and get PAID for it.

Blogging was supposed to be something different.

To steal an idea from the recent BlogHer conference in San Francisco, the RADICAL part of blogging is that anyone can do it.  Blogging was not supposed to be for the winners of the world, but for every other nutcase who wanted to express himself, for every frustrated writer too lazy to write a book.   A place where I could write about anything, and no one could shut me up.   That is as revolutionary as Guttenberg’s Bible.

The Great Interview Experiment” was a simple idea.  One person would interview the next person in the comments, creating a chain.  The connections would be random.  A-list bloggers would be interviewed by a newbie who could hardly string two sentences together.  This would strip us all of any hierarchy.  We would be celebrating the medium and our common bond — blogging about our personal lives.   In the personal blogging world, we are all interesting, all worthy of being interviewed.  The experiment did not require any conference panels of blogging “rockstars,” private parties sponsored by websites isolating all the “top” blogs from the run-of-the-mill ones, or closing keynote speeches by bloggers that everyone has known for years.

This was the other side of blogging.  The one where everyone is on an equal playing field, and it didn’t matter who you knew, how many comments you had, or even how well you wrote.  And NO corporate sponsors.

Although the interviews have slowed to a drizzle, there are still new people doing it.  As for the rest of you…

Some have closed their blogs.  Some have changed the urls.  Some switched interview partners.  A good many of you never got interviewed or copped out on doing your interview.   I knew you would forget if I didn’t kvetch about it to you like a nagging mother!

If you still want to be interviewed, sign up HERE.  If you never got hold of your interviewer the first time, and you still want to be interviewed, just email me and I’ll find you a new blogger

I really appreciate everyone who has so far participated.  And there have been a lot!  I would be lying if I said I read every one of your interviews.  You’re all interesting, but not THAT INTERESTING.  I hope the experiment has helped you realize how much you have to offer in your own “brand” of storytelling and experience.

As I mentioned, six month have passed since the start of the “Great Interview Experiment.” Do I still feel the same idealistic way about the blogosphere? Somewhat. I’m idealistic, but I also understand human nature. I don’t believe most of us truly believe that “everyone is interesting,” Or maybe that’s not the point. We tend to want to interact with others who can “help” us. We want “rockstars” to emulate and “losers” to avoid. We feel the need to segregate and isolate, to box things into clear-cut packages like “mommyblogging” and “Alltop (Does anyone really “love this site” who isn’t also ON the site? Reminds me of Amway)” so we can better handle the chaos of the blogging world… as well as make friends and connections, attract attention, build our egos, and earn some money.

I’m guilty of all of these myself. After a while, you being to want something more out of blogging than just using it as self-therapy. But sometimes, I like to me to remember what excited me about blogging in the first place. It was after my fourth or fifth post — and some guy in Ohio came onto my blog and commented on my lame post about the TV show, “24.” It didn’t really matter what he said.

“This is the coolest thing in the world.” I thought after reading his comment. “Some crazy guy actually gives a shit about what I said. I’m like Andy Rooney on 60 Minutes and I just got my first letter!”

After that, I was hooked on blogging.

I WAS IMPORTANT.

Here is an incomplete — and very inaccurate — list of everyone who has signed up during this time period, whether they did their interview or not. 

(I moved the list back to the original post since it was so long)

The links to the completed posts are here

P.S. — Do you think it is a good idea to get this interview experiment off of my blog and move it to a separate site?  If everyone would agree, we could also collect all the interviews and put them on this separate site so it is easier to read through them?  Then, I can plaster the site with corporate advertising and make a bundle off of you!

52 Comments

  1. I’m not sure if I’m meeting the requirements of the TRUE Blogger. I do have badges and use my blog to promote music, books, causes I like. I don’t receive cash from any of these people – so I am doing it for the love of expression and sharing.

    I know I like your blog – having only recently “found” you. My blog has only been up for three months – so I’m a little fresh at the game. So far so good though!

    Have a great weekend!

    Pamela

  2. I was the coolest thing ever, you evil genius. Me next. Oh the Joys interviews me, please.

  3. Erm, I actually didn’t interview and wasn’t interviewed. I contacted my subject and didn’t hear back, so I dropped out. I think my username has a tendency to get caught in spam filters. Or, you know, I’m just suckass boring.

  4. When you see the list of all the interviews, you realize just what an amazing idea this was.

    PS. I’m still waiting to interview you!

  5. i never got interviewed, not did i get around to interviewing my subject but the fact that so many people got involved – or at least attempted to get involved – in this experiment showed what a great idea this was. well played, sir.

  6. I never understood what to do next. I don’t think anyone tried to interview me, or maybe they did, and I ignored it, thinking it was just one of many fans, and not “THE GREAT INTERVIEW EXPERIMENT.”

  7. i was part of the reading of the great interviews, so to me, i was still part of the experiment.
    i’m still waiting to interview you as well.

  8. the rules: you don’t need to wait for me to contact you. Just contact the person in front of you on the list on the other post and say you want to be interviewed. And then wait for the next person tontact you. Or contact that person also.

    If the person doesn’t get back to you within a week, just email me, and I’ll move ya.

    I also added this to the bottom of the post —

    P.S. — Do you think it is a good idea to get this interview experiment off of my blog and move it to a separate site? If everyone would agree, we could also collect all the interviews and put them on this separate site so it is easier to read through them? Then, I can plaster the site with corporate advertising and make a bundle off of you!

  9. This was such a good idea Neil. I want a cut from the ads.

  10. yeah, I’m a newbie who THINKS she can string two sentences together. Jesus, how long did it take you to type that list? I’m exhausted and need a martini just after READING it. PLUS, I’m just a little shocked that my ADD didn’t kick in and force me to move on… (cool idea, though, the interview thing)

  11. I LOVED this experiment and even did an extra interview. I’d be willing to do more if there are people out there who didn’t get their original interview. And I have actually been continuing the “experiment” at my blog by starting a “True Blogosphere Story” interview series with some of my favorite (but not necessarily well-known) bloggers. I think making the experiment a separate site would be a GREAT idea (and wish I’d thought of it myself).

  12. You’re good shit Neil. You really are.

  13. Ami – I’m glad I helped turn you into a pro! I know you did more than one interview and I will add you to the list this weekend. You can imagine how time-consuming it is to keep this organized (and I am a very unorganized person).

  14. The sheer length of that list made me dizzy. I very much enjoyed this project – got to know a couple of other bloggers better, and to discover a few things about myself.

  15. Wow. Where to start. I enjoy your blog; thats a start. I care about the things you share. Thanks for sharing with us. Regardless of the fact that ‘there are cool kids’ and then there aren’t. I didnt care in high school, i certainly dont now.

    As for the interviews; awesome site idea. If you have that time!

    Otherwise, good heavens above! That is a LOT Of interviewing!

  16. A separate site would be fun. Do it!

  17. Definitely host on a different site; that would be great! It would be cool to see the interviews in one place, plus a great way to more easily promote the project.

  18. I only got involved in this to meet men who shave their chest hair. I was happy to be interviewed by a guy like that.

    Blogging for me is an opportunity to hook up with people who are obsessed and neurotic about things other than their children. This is why I like Neil so much–he’s expanded the scope of my neuroses and keeps me wondering whether we’re together because I’m a writing rockstar he can use to claw his way to the top of the heap or because I’m a boring has-been who he can befriend and feel better about himself because he’s stooped down to associate with me.

    : P

  19. This was/is a brilliant idea. Thanks for letting me be a part of it.

  20. It was a great idea, Neil. I loved it and had a lot of fun participating.

    (It was no naked pillowfight at the Playboy mansion or anything, but you can’t have everything, right?)

  21. affirmative on its own site… move it!

  22. I want to do it again! :giggles:

  23. I think this was a fantastic and successful plan. It would be nice to see it continue because the randomness of it is what makes it work. If that requires a site of its own then that’s what you should do. Its your baby, you created it and you brought all of these people together. I had fun with my interviews and I was happy to get to know the other bloggers on the experiment.

  24. I did a couple of them and enjoyed it greatly. Even made a blog friend.

    I think the idea of it is great, but there were people who originally signed up and then balked at being interviewed or having to interview other bloggers who could not “help” them move up in the ‘sphere, which was too bad.

    All in all, though, you can give yourself a big pat on the back for it. And I’ve give a nod to putting it on its own site.

  25. the experiment first made me love you. 😉

    i firmly believe that everyone has a story to tell… and that they are all fantastic.

    thank you so much for this project neil.

  26. i LOVED that you did this.
    you = awesome

  27. Blogging was not supposed to be for the winners of the world, but for every other nutcase who wanted to express himself, for every frustrated writer too lazy to write a book. A place where I could write about anything, and no one could shut me up.

    I’ve been at this blogging thing for two years and I feel more stifled than ever. No one truly blogs for himself or why bother publishing it?

    If I had known about the whole hierarchy thing (yeah, I did not do my research), I probably wouldn’t have started in the first place. The top blog places? It’s easy to assume if you’re not on them, it’s because you’re a hack or your blog is a bore. (Believe me, I think about that every time I hit the send button.) I actually do read a lot of the sites on Alltop, and I’m very glad to see a few more categories added, but I don’t expect to see myself there anytime soon.

  28. Even though I did not sign up for the interveiws I think it is a great idea.
    I hate all the high school, popular blog
    stuff. I love the people that come visit my blog, I don’t care how popular they are, or how popular I am.

  29. Neilochka, I feel like such a moron. Am totally not understanding the whole blog popularity/blogosphere class system. Is it because I’m old??, I’m oblivious??, I don’t give a rat’s patootie?? I would encourage you to also not give a damn and you too could borrow my “Dissent Is Not A Crime” button, but it’s a dark and lonely road. You only wind up with notes in your file at work about how you refused to sign some stupid new policy and wrote an objection to it instead or you get lectured for wearing the wrong shade of blue hospital scrubs. Rebellion is not for the faint-of-heart, and it’s best not done for the glory. Write what you want to write–there’s only one person with your voice.

  30. 1. sign me up!
    2. yes, move it move it!!!

  31. i loved this idea of yours and what seemed to be a genuine motive behind it. or rather, what i “took away” from it; to buck the hierarchy bull dung. i did not participate b/c i’m lazy. i might do it.

    i am all for you moving it to its own place, and hooray for you if you can take in an honest revenue. i’m pretty sure it won’t change the kind of writer you are and get all “stepford-ish”.

  32. oh, I was only joking about putting ads on that interview site. That would be plain awful. I’m more likely to put up ads on this blog.

  33. I think its awesome what you started. I am much too shy, though, and never signed up. 🙁 lol

  34. I need to get on this. I will find you, Michelle W!

  35. i thought it was an excellent idea. and i also say move it and put ads on it. you deserve to make a few bucks after working so hard on it!

  36. I said something on one of my recent blog posts about finding AllTop and being so surprised that there were so many bloggers out there. There were also so many categories on AllTop that I had no idea where to look. Once I found a blog I liked I clicked on their blogroll and found more I was interested in. I would have to say that now the majority of people I read aren’t on AllTop. They are just regular people who are doing what I am doing. Providing myself with some free therapy in the written form. And I think the interview project is an amazing idea. Having only 5 posts thought I am not quite ready to be interviewed!

  37. I think a separate site is a great idea, Neil.

    My interviewer never contacted me, and to be fair I didn’t contact the one I was supposed to interview because there was nothing we had in common and there was nothing that struck me as interview material.

  38. Jane – I respect your honesty, Ms. I Hate People.

  39. But will you still respect me in the morning, Mr. Charisma?

  40. I love this post. I love it because I’m constantly evaluating my own temperance and evolving views of the blogosphere, and I always love to read other people’s perspectives, which adds something to my own. Blogging is self-exploratory, self indulgent, informative, humorous, vain, cliquish, generous, giving, loving, snobbish, heaven, and hell. I feel like I’m back in high shool trying to fit in and be accepted. And yet I love it. How can this be?

  41. Pretty sure that if I were to sign up for something of that nature, I’d flake out on it, not because I’d want to or anything like that (I think the idea is brilliant) but because I’m just a huge flake.

    That said, when, in April, I nuked about four years worth of my blog, I nuked the blogroll along with it, and it was terrifically liberating. (I also killed the Sitemeter code, so I couldn’t nervously and compulsively monitor my site statistics.) What I’d found was that the more people linked to me, the more I tailored what I was writing to suit their agendas, real and/or imagined.

    And there’s a place for that, but I finally figured out my blog is not that place. It’s nothing special and it still has no blogroll (though I haven’t ruled out doing one eventually), but it’s mine.

    Which is a curious distinction to have to make, but what I had been writing up until mid-April had begun to seem less and less like it was actually mine.

  42. All too true. So true that I even decided to comment, and I say that because it’s all become so intimidating, scary even. So much so that a lot of the time I shy away from commenting, particularly if it’s a blog where I’ve never commented before. I miss the old times. All of it.

    All the ranks and “top” this or that… It sort of takes me back to high school, and I HATED high school.

    This really hit home. I feel less lonely now. 🙂

  43. I think it would make a great separate website from your blog. You should consider that.

    Blogging has gotten very cliquish…like high school.

  44. You’re a rockstar, and you make it look so effortless. I love the interview experiment, and almost signed up the other day. But then I didn’t, because I’m already over-committed and didn’t want to flake on one more thing. I would definitely read it on another site.

  45. Rock and Roll Mama — thanks for being honest about being over-committed. I need to be like that myself. I tend to always say yes to things, even if I know I have no time for it, then either flake out or stay up all night pulling my hair.

  46. Thank you.:) I will be back to interview when I have my follow through down. I did an all-nighter the other day on something I said I could deliver in two weeks that I should have allowed more time for. But it is what it is, right?

  47. I loved the interviews..the one person I interviewed only created a blog so her SIL in Japan could follow what was going on with the kids..the other is an AWESOME AWESOME blogger who is a fab writer..but I’m one of 3 people who reads her blog wtf?
    I still don’t get what alltop is, I’ve never been to the site..should I?

  48. PS..I still read both the person that interviewed me..and that I interviewed..

  49. I read so many of these interviews. In fact, they are what brought me over here to check you out.

    I started blogging during NaBloPoMo to inspire my middle-aged self into writing something every single day. And like you describe, I became hooked. Most of my readers started blogging during this same event, and we have had the advantage of reading and encouraging each other on a regular basis. We’ve built a real community, and I love that. I occasionally think about ads and awards and making it to the A-list (which I think is more of a state of mind than an actual list) and then I come back to my original intention: write well and connect. Great post. I think I would have liked you in high school.

  50. Thanks Mrs. G — We could have been on the yearbook committee and the debate club together.

  51. Do you think it is a good idea to get this interview experiment off of my blog and move it to a separate site? If everyone would agree, we could also collect all the interviews and put them on this separate site so it is easier to read through them? Then, I can plaster the site with corporate advertising and make a bundle off of you!

    YES i do. move it.

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