Effective blogging is a combination of good personal writing and smart party hosting. A good blog post can be a sentence long, or three pages long; what matters is that it encourages further conversation.
Back in the heyday of the Whole Earth Catalog, visionary Catalog editor Stewart Brand told would-be reviewers to (I quote from memory, and probably imperfectly) “write as if you are writing a letter to an engaged and interested friend who knows almost nothing about the subject.” That’s a good starting point for blogging. Tor.com is for fans of science fiction, fantasy, the universe, and the many “related subjects” that such persons are also liable to be interested in. When we write about (for instance) antique SEGA games, we assume that many of our readers don’t know anything about antique SEGA gamesbut that most of them probably share the mindset that understands why someone would be fanatically interested in antique SEGA games. We’re not trying to convert everyone to our particular geeky obsession, but we do assume that our natural audience is composed of people who understand the pleasures of geeky obsession, and we hope to share the cool.
Much of what has driven Tor.com is our desire to more fully contribute to the great conversation that is the subculture of SFthat river of talk, in person and in print, that has surrounded and informed science fiction and fantasy (and “the universe,” and “related subjects”) since SF fans began cranking out fanzines and organizing meetups in the early 1930s. That conversation has done nothing but expand. It is a major tributary to the modern Internet. Tor.com aspires to be part of that conversation. We recognize it as something older and bigger than we are.
We’ve recruited a number of front-page bloggers based on their knowledge of certain specialized subjects and their demonstrated ability to blog interestingly on those subjects. We’ll be recruiting more as time goes on, as well as inviting various interesting people to blog here as guests. Even more importantly, we intend to participate in the comment threads and user-started conversations on this site, and if something written there strikes us as particularly pertinent or interesting, we may well reprint it on the front page. (With its author’s permission, of course.)
As this site’s editorial straw-boss, I guess what I’d say to everyone playing here, front-page bloggers and commenters alike, is: Converse. Be yourself; be a person, not a megaphone–a personal point of view, not an encyclopedia or an “objective journalistic voice.” Even the original fiction is part of the conversation; the authors writing for us are aware that there’ll be a public comment thread following every story, just as if it were a blog post. Talk to the rest of us like we’re human beings at an interesting social event. If you feel like you’re up at a lectern on a big stage, reconsider. Tor.com aspires to be a room party, not Carnegie Hall. Circulate and talk.