Economies of Despair: Promoting Books with Blogs

Venn Diagram showing economy of despair


This little Venn Diagram satire was noticed by Sheila at Gawker yesterday, and some self-satisfied, sanctimonious, humorless dork took it upon himself (I’m assuming MisterHippity is male) to correct the “inaccuracy” of my diagram. I’ll admit to not being an expert at creating Venn diagrams, and I sometimes get stumped on those little math quizzes you find when you need to verify you are a human being. However, I can read. And this is a powerful tool.

Having a look through the comments, it’s actually quite funny. He clearly understands the diagram I drew, yet was unable to perceive its humorous intent. You, dear alert readers, will also notice that MrHippity (who clearly isn’t) did not actually recreate the original diagram, because the original third (tiny, anguish-inducing circle) reads: “People who buy books written by bloggers.” (Not “read” as his diagram indicates.)

Here’s his “correct” version:
correct venn diagram of despair

Of course, if this was more truthy, there would be no need for despair, because then promoting a book with a blog would be no problem. I think my version is way funnier. (Plus it has pretty colors and a nice font.)

I will let you be the judge.

Neither this source of humor, nor this one are sanctimonious, though there may be some self-satisfaction going on.

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18 Responses to Economies of Despair: Promoting Books with Blogs

  1. Mark May 22, 2008 at 11:05 am #


    So, in order to get a book written by a blogger bought the answer appears to be: under no circumstances promote it on the internet.

    And when it does get bought you’ve then only got a 50/50 chance that the person buying it is a person who reads books anyway. That’s a lot of beds that need a leg raised.

  2. Mark A. Rayner May 22, 2008 at 8:38 pm #

    Yes, you’ve parsed that correctly. It is, after all, an economy of despair. 🙂 m.

  3. diesel May 24, 2008 at 1:25 am #

    That second diagram is HILARIOUS!!! Oh man, I gotta go check some Godel out of the library.

  4. May May 24, 2008 at 5:27 pm #

    Your original Venn diagram stated that:
    – there are some people who only read books. They do not read blogs, they do not buy books written by bloggers;
    – there are some people who only read blogs. They do not read books, they do not buy books written by bloggers;
    – there are some people who buy books written by bloggers but they do not read neither books nor blogs. Apparently they just buy those books (without reading them);
    – there are other people who read both books and blogs;
    – there are other people who read books and buy bloggers’ books;
    – those who read blogs do not buy bloggers’ books. Never.

  5. Rob MacD May 25, 2008 at 11:58 am #

    Wow. Talk about missing the joke. Your diagram is both funnier and I think more accurate. I think you are awesome, but have I bought your book? I rest my case.

    The comment thread at Gawker quickly brings to mind Eddie Izzard’s routine about Venn diagrams:

    Who was Venn and his diagrams? Was he the most boring child ever? (upper middle class accent) “Father, I have my foot in your bedroom and also in the hallway. As you can see from my diagram I am not only in the bedroom, I am also in the hallway.” “Venn, fuck off out of this house!” “All right, father. But I am outside of the house but my hand is in the window and my foot is in a grapefruit…”

  6. O Bloody Hell May 25, 2008 at 6:18 pm #

    Actually, the really funny thing is that *his* Venn diagram is incorrect, too.

    It makes the presumption that everyone who reads a book by a blogger reads blogs, which is entirely unfounded as a presumption.

    The actual Venn diagram, to be specific, would have the smallest circle fully inside the biggest (people who read books by bloggers are a subset of people who read books, rather obviously — which is what he was whining about).

    But that smallest circle should *intersect*, not be fully contained in, the mid-sized circle “people who read blogs”.

    While the overlap there is probably substantial, I am sure that, for every book out there written by a blogger, there are others who read it because of the review on, or because a friend who does read blogs bought it for them as a gift, or because they read the cover blurb at the bookstore — all of them people who may well *not* read blogs.

    If you’re going to correct someone, you ought to make damned sure you’re right yourself when you’re doing it.

    If I see fit to be so obnoxious as to correct someone’s spelling or grammar (it takes the right kind of provocation) in comments, you can damned sure bet I carefully vette the resultant post beforehand for both spelling and grammar.

    And yes, I get the joke. ;o)

  7. Mark May 26, 2008 at 3:21 am #

    Methinks it is time for a Venn diagram showing the relationships between people who read and visit internet humour sites and those who get it whilst doing so.

  8. Mark A. Rayner May 26, 2008 at 7:58 am #

    In MisterWankerty’s defense, he was visiting Gawker when he saw my diagram, yet one would think the title would be a clue…

  9. alejna May 27, 2008 at 9:05 pm #

    Your diagram is much better. And yeah, waaaay funnier.

    Although, I admit that I find your choice of font slightly unsettling. (That font reminds me of something, but I can’t place it. What is it? And why do I have vague 70s associations?)

  10. MisterHippity September 7, 2008 at 3:38 pm #

    I’m MisterHIppity. I’m discovering all of this for the first time.

    Why all the hostility? I posted a light-hearted, graphic re-rendering of the original in the coments section of the original Gawker post. Gawker saw fit to re-run what I put in my comment in a separate post.

    This was not some kind of “attack” on Mr. Rayner — it was some light-hearted, graphical musing in a comment thread.

    Judging from the anger in Mr. Rayner’s response, and among the commenter above, you’d think I’d spit on every core principle Mr. Rayner holds dear, while killing his pet puppy in the process. Some perspective, people. Please.

  11. Mark A. Rayner September 7, 2008 at 5:05 pm #

    Ah, you see, humor can misfire in many ways. 🙂 m.

  12. Chris November 17, 2008 at 10:33 am #

    I’m just happy the ratio of ‘people who read books’ to ‘people who read blogs’ is as high as it’s depicted here as I don’t think that’ll be the case for long…pretty soon the ‘people who read books’ circle will be the size of that yellow smiley above…

    Great post…

  13. tarra April 18, 2009 at 6:21 pm #

    Hi Mark Rayner,

    I loved your Venn diagram and wish I could draw one.

  14. Test-Freak July 13, 2009 at 2:54 pm #

    I cannot believe this is true!

  15. Mark A. Rayner July 16, 2009 at 7:43 pm #

    Does it make you extremely sad?

  16. Phronk July 20, 2009 at 10:33 am #

    The lesson here is that Venn diagrams are ALWAYS hilarious.

    [insert picture of a single circle labeled both “Venn diagrams” and “Venn diagrams that are hilarious”]

  17. Mark A. Rayner July 26, 2009 at 4:47 pm #

    Yes, though a lot of them don’t look as pretty as they could …


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