Posts Tagged ‘blogging’
I eagerly solicit suggestions.
I’ve been thinking about the question for some time. What would you like to see here? What sort of writing, or photography, would you want to see? More personal commentary, less, entirely new experiments?
Discuss, please. I’d really like your opinions.
Posted without comment. Thoughts?
[T]he function of the blog, the nebulous informational task we all agreed the blog was fulfilling for the past decade, is increasingly being handled by a growing number of disparate media forms that are blog-like but also decidedly not blogs.
Instead of blogging, people are posting to Tumblr, tweeting, pinning things to their board, posting to Reddit, Snapchatting, updating Facebook statuses, Instagramming, and publishing on Medium. In 1997, wired teens created online diaries, and in 2004 the blog was king. Today, teens are about as likely to start a blog (over Instagramming or Snapchatting) as they are to buy a music CD. Blogs are for 40-somethings with kids.
Instead of launching blogs, companies are building mobile apps, Newsstand magazines on iOS, and things like The Verge. The Verge or Gawker or Talking Points Memo or BuzzFeed or The Huffington Post are no more blogs than The New York Times or Fox News, and they are increasingly not referring to themselves as such.
The primary mode for the distribution of links has moved from the loosely connected network of blogs to tightly integrated services like Facebook and Twitter. If you look at the incoming referers to a site like BuzzFeed, you’ll see tons of traffic from Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Stumbleupon, and Pinterest but not a whole lot from blogs, even in the aggregate. For the past month at kottke.org, 14 percent of the traffic came from referrals compared to 30 percent from social, and I don’t even work that hard on optimizing for social media. Sites like BuzzFeed and Upworthy aren’t seeking traffic from blogs anymore. Even the publicists clogging my inbox with promotional material urge me to “share this on my social media channels” rather than post it to my blog.
The design metaphor at the heart of the blog format is on the wane as well. In a piece at The Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal says that the reverse-chronological stream (a.k.a. The Stream, a.k.a. The River of News) is on its way out. Snapchat, with its ephemeral media, is an obvious non-stream app; Madrigal calls it “a passing fog.” Facebook’s News Feed is increasingly organized by importance, not chronology. Pinterest, Digg, and an increasing number of other sites use grid layouts to present information. Twitter is coming to resemble radio news as media outlets repost the same stories throughout the day, ICYMI (in case you missed it). Reddit orders stories by score. The design of BuzzFeed’s front page barely matters because most of their traffic comes in from elsewhere.
When Allie Brosh published her now-famous illustrated account of depression on her site Hyperbole and a Half, she was lauded, rightly, for producing one of the most moving descriptions of the disease since David Foster Wallace. But what was also notable about the piece was that it came a year and a half after her last substantive post — an eternity in Internet time. From October 2011 to May 2013, Brosh dropped off the face of the web.
This doesn’t mean she was idle — her first book comes out this fall. But her long break is a reminder that the pace of Internet publishing can now make us feel like we’re experiencing a stranger’s life in real time. Until, suddenly, we aren’t.
[. . .]
The changing nature of the Internet can make it harder for writers to share their troubles. Blogger and author Esme Weijun Wang, who writes at her eponymous site, has been writing about mental illness online since the heyday of the social network LiveJournal in the early 2000s, and says those days offered a greater feeling of a closed, and therefore safe, community: “[LiveJournal] provided the illusion of privacy, which most of the Internet does not, now; LJ did so by allowing its [users] to write what were called ‘friends-only’ posts, which meant that everyone who read your ‘journal’ had been vetted by you prior to being allowed to read your (often intensely) personal material. Often, we only knew one another by our LJ names; I knew my closest LJ friends by their first and last names, but I for example went under a Caucasian-sounding pseudonym for years.” Now that more blogs are open to whoever wants to read them, Wang says, “I feel more isolated than I did during the height of the LJ days of writing, when everyone else was equally open and unconcerned with fear about, say, their boss reading about their last night’s crying jags.”
And, she adds, “The sweeping monetization of blogs, by which I mean the nagging feeling that there is no room on the Internet left for bloggers who aren’t interested in moneymaking, also affects how I experience the Internet these days.” People trying to make money from their blogs may be less inclined to reveal the darkest aspects of their lives, and more likely to take the “cupcakes and unicorns” route.
Blogging for those who monetize their sites is, of course, a job, and hard to walk away from for many of the reasons any job is (there may be no boss to apologize to, but there’s also no disability insurance). And for the many bloggers who’ve built a following, it’s a little like being a celebrity — you can’t quit without people noticing. Eleazar Eusebio, a therapist and professor at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, notes that blogging about mental illness creates certain expectations: “If you put something out there, you almost have to come out with some finished product. We’re always looking for what happened.” And if we don’t get it, “there’s a feeling of, where did this person go?”
[. . .]
If you trace it back to LiveJournal as Wang does, then blogging didn’t start out as either a job or a road to celebrity, however small. It started as a way to share feelings, sometimes exceedingly raw ones. And even if sectors of the blogosphere become overwhelmed with “relentless positivity,” there will always be those readers who came in the first place for a writer’s personality — for a glimpse, however small, of his or her real life. And sometimes that life includes the need to simply stop writing for a time. Wang says she’s anxious when she needs to let her site lie fallow, preoccupied with “the fear that my site’s readers will have forgotten me by the time I return.” But, she says, “my readers tend to be loyal ones, I’ve found, and are generally still there when I come back.”
I’m not stopping, although I have slowed down and will continue to slow down. This has nothing to do with the ongoing heat death of Livejournal, and it doesn’t connect to catastrophic or worrisome personal issues. Rather, it has to do with my being involved in a variety of other projects making use of my skills.
I’ve been blogging for a dozen years, at A Bit More Detail and elsewhere; it’s time for me to try to put these skills to more practical use. God knows it’s time that I do so.
This has been fun. Thank you all for being here.