Instapundit: the Ed Sullivan of the blogosphere?
An amusing post at VietPundit (be sure to read the comments section, too) raises a somewhat serious question, at least for us bloggers toiling away at our keyboards: how does Instapundit Glenn Reynolds do it? How does he churn it out, day after day, night after night, through rain and snow and sleet and...well, you get the idea. And manage to hold down a full-time job of some distinction, have a family--and, I suppose, eat? And still get more traffic than the San Diego Freeway at 5 PM on the Friday before Labor Day?
VietPundit's answer--that Instapundit is not one, but many--is one I've entertained. Perhaps he has a fleet of unpaid law interns scanning the internet in search of nuggets to highlight. Perhaps there was a typo, and his blog title was supposed to read "Instapundits" instead, and now that he has such brand recognition he can't change it. Perhaps he, like many bloggers, has a combination of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and insomnia. Or perhaps he doesn't need more than a couple of hours of sleep a night, anyway.
But all of that only explains how Glenn does it in terms of mechanics. The question that interests me more is: what is it about his blog that generates all that traffic? He's not the most flamboyant or polished writer, although his prose gets the job done with clarity and an economy of effort impressive to those of us inclined to be a bit wordy (who, me? couldn't be!). Unlike LGF or Powerline, he was not a major player in exposing the CBS forgeries. He's smooth, with the smoothness that hides all trace of effort. And the fact that he was one of the earlier bloggers and thus built up his base before there was much competition still doesn't explain why that fan base has stuck with him and actually grown, along with the blogosphere.
So, I submit my own Theory of Glenn. He's one of the first bloggers I ever found, and I still read him pretty much every day. He fills a niche in the blogosphere that no one else occupies--that of companion, generalist, and affable guide. It doesn't take a whole lot of time to read him, and people are busy. There are very few bloggers who seem to have less ego, who are merely saying, "Here, read this, it's interesting," in a low-key and unthreatening way. The blogosphere can be a pretty heated place, with lots of sturm and drang, full of prima donnas and flash. Glenn is quiet and calming, but he can zing it with a pithy (that's pithy, not pissy) comment now and then. His "Heh" says volumes.
Pardon me, Glenn, I don't mean this in a bad way--but he's the Ed Sullivan of bloggers. Always brings you a really good show, and then steps back and lets you enjoy it.