So, today’s the day that I pile on Matthew Yglesias, living up (down?) to my ostensible demographic predilection to find young whippersnappers annoying. Yglesias, in this post, notes: “There’s something pretty cool about the shape of the Miami-related sprawl when you pull it out to an appropriate distance.” Although I have no idea what that means, I’ll bite. Sure, it’s cool, if by cool you mean not really cool at all. And that shape becomes even less cool, or perhaps less surprising, if you know anything at all about the geographic constraints in the greater Miami area: there’s an ocean to one side of the urban corridor, and a really big swamp, including, for much of its length, The Everglades National Park, to the other.
Which totally rudimentary knowledge, it seems, Yglesias doesn’t have. He goes on: “I’d been interested to know what, if anything, is legally or practically preventing the city from just expanding further and further west if anyone happens to know.” Me, me, call on me (waving hand frantically in the air), I know, I know: there’s a swamp to the left of Miami on your map, Mr. Yglesias. It’s filled with birds and reptiles and mangroves and, well, swamptastic swamp.
Really, though, who cares? If Yglesias wants to spend his time gazing at satellite images of the city he happens to be visiting, so be it. It’s better than gazing at his own navel, I suppose. But the post does point out the hazards of blogging, particularly for pay: the pressure to post something, anything, to provide content is overwhelming. In this case, Yglesias spent twelve seconds looking a map, captured an image , and then posted his not-even-rising-to-the-level-of-inchoate thoughts on an issue about which he apparently knows nothing. He didn’t bother to do any homework, didn’t bother to ask the concierge in the hotel where he’s staying, apparently didn’t bother to take geography in college or pay attention in junior high. Ugh, why this annoys me is kinda hard to figure. But it does.
And maybe this is why. How, please tell me, is that any different from the pundits that Yglesias mocks all the time? How is posting utter nonsense, without taking even a minute to consider the substance of a post, different from writing a crap-ass column and publishing it in the Times Op-Ed page? The Yglesias post does much less damage, I’ll grant you, than a ridiculous smear about John Edwards’s haircut. but it demonstrates the same lazy habits that Yglesias supposedly abhors. Blogging is hard, in other words. But being Matthew Yglesias, seems pretty easy.
Update: I just noticed that Yglesias’s commenters are mocking him. Authors getting called on their foolishness in real time; score one for blogging. Good stuff.