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.