Who Blogs Anymore?


Apparently not me.  When I started blogging two years ago, I was averaging three posts a week.  Now I am down to one a month for the past few months.

Luckily, there are those who do blog, as my Google Reader affirms daily!  I still enjoy reading blogs, but I have fallen out of the habit of routinely commenting and blogging myself.

A few weeks back, I finished reading a fascinating book by Scott Rosenberg called Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What It’s Becoming, and Why It Matters.  Having spent the past decade growing up with the internet, I found this book timely and full of interesting background around a subject that I thought I already knew!  It also is inspiring me to give my blog new energy!

In the opening eight chapters, Scott details how blogging began and grew by focusing on a person or two per chapter that highlighted his conceptual points.  He starts with Justin Hall, a nineteen-year-old in 1994 who began sharing everything about himself on his website, but more importantly, added links to other sites as part of his sharing.  Dave Winer began posting his own soapbox and invited others to do the same.  The early bloggers had to know HTML, but they helped each other figure out that it was not that hard to do.  Jorge Barger coined the term “weblog” (though he wanted it to be called Web Log because he thought “blog” was a hideous term!).  These early bloggers saw their role as a service – filtering the mass of information for their readers.

The chapter on Evan Williams, Meg Hourihan, and the development of Blogger was particularly interesting.  I found it fascinating that the same person who made blogging easy by developing Blogger also created Twitter, which in some ways is the reason I blog less.  If I were to name my personal learning aids, Twitter would be first and blogs/RSS reader second.

Sometime in the past week, I sent my 5,000th tweet – and that fact did not even register!  In the past two years, I have posted 157 times to this blog, so that would suggest that my choice for social dialogue is Twitter.  Yet, Twitter – while great for connecting and communicating – remains less a reflective medium than a reactive one.  And I still benefit from reflection.

Thus this blog continues to serve a useful purpose for me.

As tools such as Blogger made it easier to blog, the number of blogs continued to rise.  Some rose for political purposes, such as Josh Marshall‘s Talking Points Memo.  Others tried to make money off blogging, such as Robert Scoble and Michael Arrington of TechCrunch fame.  I have been a Boing Boing fan for several years, yet did not realize the rich history behind this website until Scott laid out its story.

Scott also detailed some of the darker sides of blogging, detailing the story of Heather Armstrong and how her blogging led to her being fired from a job.

The final three chapters review the rise of citizen journalism and its impact on mainstream journalism, as well as the evolution of blogging itself as more and more blogs develop (including of course my own blog).  As Scott noted, in the late 1990’s, the word “blog” did not even exist, and a decade later, 184 million people worldwide had started a blog.  Not all keep it up, but the impact on connections and communication remains staggering!  More importantly, just as there now seems to be “an app for that”, so too blogs cover such amazing diversities of fields that any area of interest probably already has a blog covering it.  It is simultaneously globally ubiquitous and razor sharp in its focus.

Blogging continue to evolve.  Scott noted that some of the energy that previously poured into blogs now pours into social media like Facebook or Twitter, yet people continue to look for ways to find their voice, and blogs serve that purpose well.

At our Center for Teaching Excellence, my colleague Bud Deihl has launched a new initiative around digital storytelling.  While his focus is the use of digital images to tell a story, in many ways blogging has always been about telling a story.  Scott ends by noting that bloggers are:

“…writers who sit down to type character after character, word upon word, day by day, steadily constructing, out of their fragments, little edifices of memory and public record…Individually they are stewards of their won experience; together they are curators of our collective history…”

Who blogs anymore?  I hope I continue to…and I hope others continue to not only reflect on my thoughts but offer me their wisdom in return.

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5 thoughts on “Who Blogs Anymore?

  1. Ditto, ditto, and ditto (except for having read that book). My blog posting frequency has declined significantly with a fair amount of my need to express thoughts and share links coming in the form of over 4,500 tweets to date.

    One difference between you and I is that I have also significantly reduced the frequency that I visit my feed reader. So many of the feeds in my reader point to people who I also follow on Twitter. Therefore, I visit their posts if I see their tweets about posting (just like I did with this one) and only go into the reader from time to time to catch up with some feeds that aren’t matched with my Twitter feed.

    I have all kinds of blog posts that I want to write, but much like going to the gym, it’s way too easy for me to find something else to do rather than write. I do have a plan to force myself into writing more often, even if they are shorter posts than I used to write. I’ll let you know if that motivational technique proves successful. Later.

  2. I will have to check out “Say Everything. . . ” I love history books. 🙂

    Remember that Ben Franklin started a journal and kept it daily, for a few years, then didn’t write again for decades. In his older age, he took it up again and it became his autobiography.

    Here’s a question. Are modern bloggers analogous to pamphleteers of an earlier age?

    Once upon a time, people would have an idea that they wanted to circulate, so they would publish a pamphlet and sell it. Some like Payne became famous. Most disappeared into obscurity.

    Nice work, Britt. Keep up the great writing.

  3. Kia ora e Britt!

    I think that the blog has been elevated to the level of a thing that finds itself under a lot of scrutiny. Many regular bloggers are aware of this and become hooked onto what their readers like to read.

    Frankly, my interest in what my ‘readers like to read’ was clinically addressed by me through a series of studies. It turns out that I was just as interested in what some readers didn’t like as I was in the material that some readers liked.

    Poetry comes under scrutiny the same way – The Fire and the Anvil – where criticism tends to forge what is permitted to be brought from the fire by the writer. What a pity that this is so. Many ‘greats’ have been found among those who were not manacled by criticism.

    By following the nose, a good writer would vary in his or her ‘output’ for want of a better term, both in rate of writing and in topic. This is likely to happen if no real conscious attempt is made by the writer to regulate or adjust.

    The Web is a public forum, however, and if done openly and collaboratively, a blog will invariably become the product of that public collaboration. But like any complex system, it is capable of growing, surviving, diminishing or becoming extinct.

    Catchya later
    from Middle-earth

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