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Tuesday, August 24, 2004

My blogroll thinks I’m gay!

Does anyone remember that article (from the Wall Street Journal) entitled, “My TiVo thinks I’m gay”? You can google the article… but for those who are short on time, here’s a quick synopsis (which falls well short of the witty original):

TiVo, for anyone just emerging from a long stay in a monastery, is a digital recording device that one hooks up to a television. It will record anything you tell it too (without commercials!), but the nitty-gritty of the article revolves around TiVo’s somewhat disquieting ability to discern your viewing preferences from the things you ask it to record. I say disquieting because TiVo uses those perceived preferences to thoughtfully record other stuff it ‘thinks’ you might enjoy. The article talks about how one owner’s TiVo started recording shows that clearly indicated it thought that he was gay. To compensate, the owner started recording programs about war and other ‘manly’ subjects. His TiVo then began overcompensating, thinking his tastes were more in line with those of a WWII Nazi official. In the parlance of show biz; Wackiness ensued!

Why, you may be asking yourself, am I telling you about this?

I’m sharing today because I recently reviewed my blogroll (which regular readers know as my ‘Good Readin’ list) and noticed an interesting trend.

Of the 40 blogs and journals that I currently read daily (or at least as often as they publish), 16 are almost exclusively about Jewish/Israeli topics... wih another two or three that deal with Jewish Israei topics on a fairly regular basis. That leaves roughly half of my blogroll about things other than Israeli/Jewish topics. I like that my blogroll is split fairly evenly between Jewish/Israeli topics and 'others'. Based on the law of averages, one should be able to assume that the 'others' would be a fairly representative cross-section of society... but if one did... one would be wrong.

Through no conscious effort on my part, it has turned out that four of the wonderful 'other' blogs are written by openly gay writers, and another two, I’ve slowly become convinced, are written by ‘closet cases’ married to ‘beards’.

While some of these writers may occasionally bring up subjects such as Same Sex Marriage… none of them are what I would call ‘issue driven’ (Heck, many of the 'hetero-writers' on my blogroll have weighed in on SSM). In fact, with a few of these writers, it took me several weeks of regular reading to pick up on their ‘orientation’ (I know, I know… I've been told that I have arguably the world’s worst ‘gaydar’).

I’m not telling you about this to show how open minded I am, or to set up some a Seinfeld-like punch line (“…not that there’s anything wrong with that.”). I just find it intriguing that my blogroll has evolved the way it has. What usually happens is that every few months I delete one or two blogs that I no longer find compelling… and at about the same rate, I add a link to one or two blogs that I have recently ‘discovered’. In short, the development of my ‘Good Readin’ list has been glacial in both its slowness, and lack of intent.

Let’s review, shall we: I’m a straight, married, father of 3… I’m an observant Jew, living in a ‘settlement’ on the ‘West Bank’… and yet, like that TiVO owner, I seem to have a cumulative body of evidence (somewhere between 10-15% of my blogroll consists of gay writers) which might suggest that perhaps my interests are, um, not so typical of 'guys like me'.

Although it’s an imperfect analogy, the ratio of gay bloggers on my good readin' list would be akin to an English Literature professor suddenly noticing that a good portion of the books on his night table are about quantum physics. When that day arrives, he has to scratch his head and ask himself (as I am now) how he hadn't noticed the trend.

I had hoped that by writing this post I might stumble upon some hint as to how things developed the way they have... but no such luck.

I'm curious to hear from any of you if your blogroll or bookmarks suggests some interest or trend of which you were previously unaware.

Posted by David Bogner on August 24, 2004 | Permalink


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You aren’t reading “issue driven” (and even if they were)gay blogs so why does it matter what the bloggers sexual orientatuion is? I think what draws you to these bloggers are their ideas and writing, and their abililty to make you think, question and feel. You don’t question Chez Miscarriage on your blog roll, and yet, you are not a woman who struggles with fertility issues. I think your sites fit with “ a guy like you”… a literate man who thinks.

Posted by: Marjorie | Aug 24, 2004 3:31:53 PM

The gay bloggers I read all seem to know each other. Maybe because it's a smaller biome, they link heavily to each other, but the better/funnier writers link to other better/funnier writers, and suddenly you're reading all of them.

Then one day you wake up with Manolo Blahnik shoes. Everyone wins.

Posted by: Tanya | Aug 24, 2004 5:23:54 PM

Well, if you assume that the 10% figure is accurate (or, as one of my waggish associates likes to say, "there's one in every minyan") then you're within statistically expected numbers.

Oh, and if I happen to be one of the two "suspected closet cases," that's only 'cuz you ain't seen my wardrobe... I'm the only piano bar regular who manages to find a shirt that clashes with blue jeans :)

Posted by: efrex | Aug 24, 2004 6:55:09 PM

I must now post to clarify my orientation. I've purposefully been ambiguous just to mess with people's minds. But since it is obviously important, I shall make my preference known! (hahaha ... I'm the same way. I always want to know. Why do I want to know? That I don't know!)

Posted by: Jim | Aug 24, 2004 7:32:32 PM

Marjorie... Of course you are right. It doesn't matter a wit what a person's 'orientation' is to enjoy reading them. I was just amused to find that I seem to enjoy a disproportionate ratio of gay bloggers.

Tanya... I had thought of that...y'know, how maybe I got onto a gay blogger jag because I found them on each other's blogrolls. But the truth is, a couple of them found each other through MY blogroll! Go know!

Efrex... Just as I won't point out which blogs are written by openly gay writers, I won't even hint at who I think the 'closet cases' might be. There is a strict 'don't ask don't tell' policy here at treppenwitz. :-)

Jim... Just the name of your blog makes one wonder... ;-)

Posted by: david | Aug 25, 2004 4:32:34 AM

gay blogger jag...ha! I love that.

Posted by: Lisa | Aug 25, 2004 3:11:19 PM

I think it might be true that a disproportionately large amount of gay people are in the blog world. I might guess that this is because they've had to go against mainstream society, and the result is a richer inner life, and therefore they have more to say.

Posted by: Jim | Aug 25, 2004 5:32:22 PM

I think it must be gay people are just naturally more interesting because I am finding a high ratio in my Favorites List, too.


Posted by: Queenie | Aug 25, 2004 6:47:16 PM

Lisa... yes, 'jag'. You know... you can't just have one!

Jim... Yes, that's right... they're everywhere! :-)

Queenie... In my experience, anyone who isn't like me is immediately more interesting.

Posted by: david | Aug 25, 2004 9:15:37 PM

my tivo thinks i'm a nascar republican. just because i watch 'american chopper' and 'monster garage', two heavily mechnically driven shows means that i am watching it for the gear. no way, it's the hunks that make me watch it :)

Posted by: no milk | Aug 28, 2004 4:28:58 PM

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