Passing 14, going on to 15.
[I’m not esp. happy with this; but it’s my blog-versary, and my time is up, so I’m posting it.]
Blog anniversaries are getting so common now, they’re no longer remarkable. The duration, in my case, is a little unusual. I get asked regularly, are you insane? Blogging for all this time! Last time I looked in the mirror, my eyes lined up properly and I wasn’t drooling Lithium broth. So insanity doesn’t play into it. I never actually intended to ‘play’ with blogging for this long a duration. Certainly I never thought the pursuit would last more than a month, when I began. Little did I know how serendipitous, how addicting, how infuriating, how enjoyable and fulfilling the experience would be. Sort of like life in general. And that’s really how I see this pursuit now - the appropriate, measured virtual expression of my physical, mental and emotional self. I admire the current definition: ‘lifestreaming.’
Still, everyone seems to want to know: Why, exactly, have you kept going all these years? My popularity waned significantly when RSS and Twitter attracted away most of my readers. What was the point?
Could it be that there are other motivating factors for blogging than traffic or remuneration? Heaven forfend! Burn that man at the stake.
I’ve spent a while thinking about this, down-deeping. The reason(s) I haven’t stopped are multifarious, and I list my reasons in no particular order:
• Boundless curiousity, that I can share.
• Because part of my business is creating websites, my hosting costs are generally low. There’s always a nook or cranny on a VPS, so there was no financial pressure to stop. Costs have killed more than one great blog. [ Need hosting or a site? Let me know. ]
• I got very popular, very fast, wielded a great deal of influence, and the ‘golden glow’ still carries me along. I refuse to accept diminution. Continued occasional recognition of my hard work serves to power ongoing effort, yet it is not the only fuel in my blogging engine.
• I really enjoy participating as the software for weblogs evolves. I still harbor just as many crazy ideas as ever, I just tend to keep the best ones to myself. I’d like to think some are plucked from my blog and eventually made concrete.
Speaking of blogs and software, I take note of the recent uptick in ‘Blogging is dead’ articles ( again ). They miss the point. It is not that blogging is dead, but merely the label of ‘blog’. Blogging is no longer a single definable style or form-factor. Even weblog software is running away from ‘blog’ to ‘CMS’ [content management system] in order to serve the needs of a very diverse user base. Therefore I posit it is the term ‘blog’ that is dead [Good luck with what’s left of the market, Ghost. Iterate fast.]. As longtime readers here know, I’ve called for a new taxonomy of our online postings for quite a while now.
Chronological order - that defining feature of the old-style weblog - is significantly on the wane. Subject/category based presentation is on the rise, probably because of the rise of magazines-on-tablets, a style we’re apparently going to be emulating sooner than later. So we’ll become ‘blogazines’ or some other snotty sneeze of a word.
• I’ve invested an incredible amount of time and effort in constructing an online persona, one that my longtime readers count on. To kill it or abandon it would feel like a suicide.
• Daily link-finding and link commenting has served to educate and build my actual (non-virtual) self. A blog is a self-improvement device you can count on. As Euan Semple phrases so beautifully, “… writing one’s self into being.”
• I would miss my readers and commenters, who both educate and titillate. Some read regularly, some come-and-go, a few get freaked out by my posts (or by my looking/interacting on their websites/social channels). There are those who just prefer to lurk, and that’s perfectly fine.
I try to maintain a consistent personality. Being a person with many interests, I can seem consistent locally, whereas my readers can perceive my interests as terribly confusing, and unpredictable. In spite of a technically-more-astute-than-average audience, it is surprising how fragile the thread of connection between myself and some readers can be. My ‘regulars’ know me well, but those who visit the blog on a less frequent basis can get quite bollixed. One person’s intelligent consistency is another person’s raving maniac. A single ‘unexpected’ post — or a misinterpreted post — can have huge repercussions. I’ve scared off 3/4’s of my traffic more than once, to have it bounce back shortly thereafter. Blogging is a medium where more words are usually required to repair the mistaken use of a few words — context can rarely be communicated in textual form at a tweet’s length. The audience knows this, and will return. If not for closure, then just for the entertainment. Any post on my site with comments gets more traffic because everyone knows that’s where the plainspoken unedited blogger tends to reveal himself ...
• “The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.” Tip o’ the hat to L.P. Hartley. This statement is so true — true as a shiv in the guts, true as the yank of a rope around one’s neck. It is worthy of quite a bit of contemplation, when you have some downtime. Just as an example, think of how population has affected public events; once you could walk up and meet performers. Now you are separated by oceans of people and fortresses of security. You cannot look back at concerts of the past with today’s conceptual framework. It was a totally, completely, stunningly different experience. One that younger folk have no way to imagine. And that’s just one example. Politics, games, childhood ... any aspect of modern life is similar.
But I digress. My online writings serve as a public travel guide to those now-exotic ‘past locales’ of the last fourteen years. And if I don’t sail a direct course to truth except over longer durations, anyone can view the change in my intellectual ocean-currents via trolling my archives. “The unexamined life …” indeed.
• Continuing to learn when to not express an opinion — classified as not being a jerk. Sure, I could hold an opinion on hydroponic bizchingo farming in Kazcatchistan and blog about it … but without any knowledge of the subject other than a single article read on the internet, I’d be a jerk to do so, and would be feeding the noise/signal ratio that makes finding good content so difficult. There’s a lot to be said for continuing efforts to avoid jerk-dom, IMHO. I doubt I’ll ever stop learning this lesson, and all the learning I do online translates directly to real life.
• Promoting proper attribution by example. If you don’t attribute, good voices disappear. It’s no joke. We’re missing a great deal of good blog voices for lack of attribution. I will never stop banging on about this. It’s as good a reason as any to keep blogging.
• Helping keep RSS alive, through vigorous use. It’s too good, too useful, to let die.
• Lastly, and perhaps least interestingly, I keep thinking someday someone will hire me for my scintillating observations, and I’ll be able to blog in perpetuity and get paid for it.
At one time we all wanted to score such a gig. Most gave up the ghost. I still keep the ghost in my closet, alongside my occasional moment-of-intellectual-weakness lottery tickets (expired).
Wherever you are on the political scale of holiday greetings, I hope you all have a safe and merry holiday season. Thanks for reading (all these years)!
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