April 6. 2008
In Web World of 24/7 Stress, Writers Blog
Till They Drop
SAN FRANCISCO — They work long hours, often to exhaustion. Many are paid by the piece
— not garments, but blog posts. This is the digital-era sweatshop. You may know it by a
different name: home.
A growing work force of home-office laborers and entrepreneurs, armed with computers and
smartphones and wired to the hilt, are toiling under great physical and emotional stress
created by the around-the-clock Internet economy that demands a constant stream of news
Of course, the bloggers can work elsewhere, and they profess a love of the nonstop action
and perhaps the chance to create a global media outlet without a major up-front investment.
At the same time, some are starting to wonder if something has gone very wrong. In the last
few months, two among their ranks have died suddenly.
Two weeks ago in North Lauderdale, Fla., funeral services were held for Russell Shaw, a
prolific blogger on technology subjects who died at 60 of a heart attack. In December, another
tech blogger, Marc Orchant, died at 50 of a massive coronary. A third, Om Malik, 41, survived
a heart attack in December.
Other bloggers complain of weight loss or gain, sleep disorders, exhaustion and other
maladies born of the nonstop strain of producing for a news and information cycle that is as
always-on as the Internet.
To be sure, there is no official diagnosis of death by blogging, and the premature demise of
two people obviously does not qualify as an epidemic. There is also no certainty that the
stress of the work contributed to their deaths. But friends and family of the deceased, and
fellow information workers, say those deaths have them thinking about the dangers of their
The pressure even gets to those who work for themselves — and are being well-
compensated for it.
“I haven’t died yet,” said Michael Arrington, the founder and co-editor of