David Kirkpatrick

December 7, 2008

Interviewed by The Pakistani Spectator

Filed under: et.al., Media, Politics, Technology — Tags: , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:30 am

A Pakistani blog, The Pakistani Spectator, is conducting interviews with bloggers and asked me to participate.

Here is the result:

Would you please tell us something about you and your site?

I’m a professional writer of many years. I’ve published short fiction, been a journalist for daily, weekly, monthly and web-based media and created corporate content of many, many stripes. I’ve done media relations, ghosted full-length nonfiction and edited both business writing and journalism for a number of outlets.

My client list is quite extensive, but some of the more notable outlets I’ve written for include USA Today, the original Office.com and the website for GMAC Home Finance. Coming in January 2009, I’ll be guest blogging at the launch of NewMajority.com, a new group blog from the conservative pundit, David Frum.

My personal blog – found here – was created in January 2008, as an additional outlet for my thoughts, ruminations and for things I just found interesting. It also serves as a living “sample” of my blogging for prospective clients who are interested in my ghost-blogging for them.

The blog mostly features politics, business and technology with a little extra thrown in for good measure, and it is syndicated through Newstex’s “Blogs on Demand” premium content service. I truly enjoy spending time each day doing the usual online reading I’d be doing anyway and then sharing my favorite, or most interesting, or maybe most infuriating, bits with the rest of the world.

Do you feel that you continue to grow in your writing the longer you write? Why is that important to you?

I think as a writer I grow every single day. I think any writer would be best served to read  everything they can get their hands on. Obviously that’s not feasible so you do need some sort of gatekeeper in your head to not waste your time, but I do think it’s key to keep reading things that challenge your way of thinking and not just things you like, or affirm what you already believe.

Certainly read what you love, but make sure to challenge yourself and your beliefs every single day. Continuing to grow in my writing has always been such a part of my life it goes far beyond important to me. I’m not how I could live without that challenge.

I’m wondering what some of your memorable experiences are with blogging?

By far the most memorable experience came from a post covering a very specific region of the United States. That post spurred a comment from a clearly disturbed individual. The comment was around 60 lines of unbroken text, very rambling about an odd, and possibly criminal situation, and included some very personal information (address, phone number, etc.) I decided to let the post stand, but I did redact the personal information.

What do you do in order to keep up your communication with other bloggers?

Not a whole lot to tell the truth. I’d say 99% email. I do share thoughts and ideas occasionally, but I’m not big on commenting or online forums.

What do you think is the most exciting or most innovative use of technology in politics right now? 

Fundraising by far. Here in the US Obama raised a half a billion dollars from over three million donors. Amazing. And now he has that fundraising army in a database for future use.

Obama’s campaign has created an entirely new bar for integrating the internet and politics. I did a blog post on that subject here.

Do you think that these new technologies are effective in making people more responsive?

Once again I think the way Obama’s campaign handled its online “base” by sending Twitter “tweets” and texting mobile phones and even using hoary, old email was a work of art and certainly helped ensure his victory this past November.

What do you think sets Your site apart from others?

Probably one key thing would be on certain subjects I bring a lot of insider knowledge from my many years of professional writing. I can bring a little more to bear on some subjects than most other bloggers.

If you could choose one characteristic you have that brought you success in life, what would it be?

Optimistic pessimism.

What was the happiest and gloomiest moment of your life?

To avoid trouble the happiest would be my wedding day, although my first short story acceptance letter from a literary magazine was pretty exciting. I guess sitting in a holding cell would be the gloomiest, but I wasn’t there all that long so the gloom soon lifted.

If you could pick a travel destination, anywhere in the world, with no worries about how it’s paid for – what would your top 3 choices be? 

Right now I’d say Tokyo, Japan, a tour of Scotland and anywhere in the Arctic Circle.

What is your favorite book and why?

I’m going to have to go with Henry Miller’s “The Tropic of Cancer” because it changed the way I looked at literature the first time I read it in my teens. Truthfully this question has about one hundred, plus, answers because so many books are so great and affected me in some meaningful fashion.

What’s the first thing you notice about a person (whether you know them or not)?

I’d say overall demeanor – how they carry themselves, how they interact with people around them.

Is there anyone from your past that once told you you couldn’t write?

I had one professor in my first year of college who disagreed with my notion of grammar and refused to give me a grade better than C++++++ (not joking with the six plusses there) on principle. He’s a lone wolf in that regard so I’m going with he was just stupid, boneheaded and most likely jealous.

How bloggers can benefit from blogs financially?

Well, my blog is syndicated so I get a check each month. I also do corporate ghost-blogging for a number of firms and earn money through that method as well.

If a blog has crazy traffic (we’re talking mid five figures of page views and up each day) putting advertising on blog can make some money. I wouldn’t expect to earn a living via a personal blog unless you’re drawing a full-on paycheck from some outlet be it corporate, media or think tank.

Is it true that who has a successful blog has an awful lot of time on their hands?

I’d say to make a blog successful does require a certain amount of time to sort through material to blog about, put your thoughts down and just keep a lot of balls in the air at once.

Successful blogs are going to have a lot of posts. Certainly not one or two a week.

What role can bloggers of the world play to make this world more friendlier and less hostile?

I think familiarity takes away a lot of fear. Most hostility (not all of course) is based on fear and a lot of that fear is based purely on not knowing someone – how they think, what they do, what makes them tick.

Reading blogs from other cultures helps take some that “unknown-ness” out of the equation and I think helps create friendliness and gets rid of some hostility.

Who are your top five favourite bloggers?

This is a constantly changing group depending on what’s going on in the world, what sport is in season and what I’m up to at the time. Right now my list is pretty politics-centric (well it always it, but more so right now after the recent US election):

I’ll go with Andrew Sullivan’s the Daily Dish, Secular Right, Reason Magazine’s Hit & Run, Cato@Liberty and FiveThirtyEight.

Is there one observation or column or post that has gotten the most powerful reaction from people? See the question above on the memorable experience. I have received some interesting feedback, but nothing I’ve written has really set of a firestorm of controversy or a crazy amount of positive interest.

What is your perception about Pakistan and its people?

Coming from my experience of Pakistan via US media (print, television, etc.) I see Pakistan as a nation in a great deal of political turmoil both within and without. There seems to be an ongoing power struggle between multiple factions within the nation.

That’s one place where blogging can change minds is to expose people, like me, who only get one perspective on a country. Bloggers can reveal the banality of ordinary life, the exhilaration of an outstanding day and the beauty of a foreign land that probably gets lost in media coverage. Of course these things happen in literature and other arts, but blogging makes it instantaneous and personal. That is always a good thing.

Have you ever become stunned by the uniqueness of any blogger?

Overall I’d say no because each blogger is so unique and there are so many ways for people to express themselves through a blog.

I did do a post on a blog I found while reading a book on crossword puzzles – Diary of a Crossword Fiend – a blog on one crossword solver’s times for multiple puzzles each day with a little extra commentary. Now that’s unique.

My post prompted a series of email between me and the blog’s author and I really enjoyed our exchange.

What is the most striking difference between a developed country and a developing country?

I really don’t feel qualified to answer the question because I’ve spent very, very little time in developing countries. Any opinion I could give would be basically worthless because it’d be based on something other than direct personal experience.

What is the future of blogging?

Who knows? Who’d a predicted Tweeter a couple of years ago. Blogging and Web 2.0, Web 3.0, or what have you, is still evolving at light speed.

You have also got a blogging life, how has it directly affected both your personal and professional life?

Professionally it is a source of income and ghost-blogging is now one of my commercial specialties. Personally I don’t think it’s had much effect. Of course I’m sure my wife would beg to differ. If nothing else she does get bombarded with information I might have kept to myself before blogging, but once I do a post on something it means a little more to me. I mean I’ve put my time, effort and opinion in the thing! [J]

What are your future plans? 

Continue writing every day. I’ve kept a journal for over twenty years written in longhand, continue blogging and hopefully adding to my ghost-blogging client list. And as always I keep meaning to spend more time on my fiction, but for some reason that gets pushed to the backburner more often than not.

I’m also really looking forward to blogging at NewMajority.com at the launch this coming January.

Any Message you want to give to the readers of The Pakistani Spectator?

 I’d love to hear your reaction to this interview and my thoughts, and thanks for taking the time to read my rambling answers.