The year blogging died

I think it was this year. Or maybe it will be next year. But it’s pretty much over.

The only blogs left, the only really significant ones, are commercial. Increasingly, they’re owned by newspapers. The indies, like in every industry, are few and their voices increasingly small.

There was a time you could grow a blog into a brand. You could be bought out by some media conglomerate. You could make your millions, sell out, and move on. And a lot of people have.

The thing is — the audience has moved on. They still come to blogs of course, but in the same way they come to traditional news outlets. Through aggregators like BuzzFeed and UpWorthy. Through Facebook. And to a decreasing extent, through Google.

Blogs have become a sort of endpoint for the info river, but they themselves are not the river. Despite, of course, being organised in streams.

Which reminds me: RSS is dying too.

Thing is, I fully expect newspapers to outlive blogs. That’s the way technology is. What has existed for a long time will continue to exist for a long time. Technology doesn’t really have a defined half-life in that way, except to say that some things stick, and you won’t really every be able to tell what things will stick. You can only tell that what has been around for a long time will be around for a long time. The record is a good example of that. So is the newspaper. Blog? Well… maybe. We’ll see how it goes.

Why don’t I blog on Facebook or Google+ or some other service?

I have few simple reasons for owning and running my own blog on my own domain.

  1. I am not bound by any terms of service. I am not bound in my speech. There are not certain topics I am forbidden from addressing. I’m still under the limitations my country puts on speech, but I am under no other limitations.
  2. I am not going to be shut down arbitrarily. My blog is not going to be bought out and shut down like Posterous, etc, etc. As long as I have the pittance it takes to keep this alive, it will be here. A pittance, I might add, I gladly pay.
  3. I can do what I like with my data. These words are not inside Facebook or Twitter or Google+ or any other service. If I wish to share them there (and I do), I can do so. Because I use open formats like HTML and RSS. Social networks do no such thing. They generally don’t give you the ability to share out. They just give you the ability to share in.
  4. Finally, I’ve been blogging about live, love, technology, theology, and all this other stuff for a long time now. I write infrequently of late, but that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped. Not at all. I want my little slice of the web to truly be my slice of the web. Owned and operated, navigating flâneur-style through whatever at my own pace.

And that, ladies and germs, is why I still blog in the open.

Useful narcissism

Tonight I’ve been looking back on old blog posts. I know. This isn’t kosher or something.

I like to read things I’ve written, because I always come away thinking I’m an unmitigated genius or an unbearable jackass. There’s no middle ground. I know I’m going to come back to this post someday and think either of those two things.

Still, I write.

This blogging is actually useful. I mean, it’s pretty narcissistic, yes. But it’s also a helpful window into my past. I can look at the me that was, contrast it to the me that is, and figure out some stuff.

For instance… but I’m not going to give you a for instance.

It’s good to figure out who you were and what you thought in the past. It’s like preserving a part of you in amber, so another part of you can look back and understand how very much your now taints your view of the past.

There are things I used to feel. I can’t remember now what it felt like to feel them. But I can go back and read what previous me wrote while in the grip of those feelings. I can go back and compare and contrast. I didn’t always feel this way or that way. Maybe I even felt the opposite way.

I have to be honest in these posts. Not for you. I don’t care much about you. But for my future self. I find it important somehow that future me can trust past me. That I will one day read these words and know that I meant them.

About not blogging enough…

Chris Hubbs thinks he’s not blogging enough. I think we’re all not blogging enough.

I remember a wonderful span of 2 – 3 years where everyone had a blog. Everyone. And most of us were on Blogger (regrettably), we had these long blogrolls, we’d all write these long personal posts, and everyone would do the rounds and comment.

Those were the glory days.

Then social media really took off. Now we’re all posting links and commenting on them, or posting tiny snippets of our lives and commenting on those. I guess it’s more like a conversation than a session with a shrink, and maybe that’s good thing.

But I don’t think it is. I don’t feel like I get to know people through social media as well as I do when I read their mini-essays.

Maybe I just miss being able to craft my own façade easily in long form. Maybe I just have less time available.

Maybe I’m just a sentimentalist.

Unlinking

A bunch of my friends no longer blog. I’ve delisted them from the sidebar. I added Chris Hubbs back in because that just make sense.

Facebook happened, I think. Those of us who weren’t writers by temperament or by design stopped interacting with blogs and comments (it was too much effort) and started commenting on Facebook walls instead (far too little effort).

I don’t know if anything is lost in this transition. I don’t think so. There privacy of Facebook can be nice. I miss the openness of it all, though. I can honestly say I gained a few friends on the internet from blogging. I’ve only lost friends on Facebook. At my age it’s a lot easier to lose friends than to gain them.

How long will I keep this up, I wonder? I think as long as I’m making things, and thinking things, and want to write all those things down. I can accept that there are a lot of people out there who don’t care about that. They’re content to think things and have those thoughts boil off into the ether. There’s nothing wrong there. There are, after all, far too many thoughts and not enough time to write them all down.

So I soldier on. There’s that.