Saturday, August 14, 2010

Is the Blog in Decline?--A Friday Journal

An article in this week's Newsweek was dashing my hopes for the future of blogs.

Almost a year ago I started this blog.

I love books and traditional modes of publishing.  I resisted the idea of a blog (web-log) on philosophical grounds, insisting that like most technology it was a passing fad, and that folks were too impatient for the latest gadget to make blogs work in the long term.  Blogs were for narcissists, I thought, or were too immediate to demand deeper thought, or were published so quickly as to provide little time for fully developed writing.

But after a while, the thought of making immediate connections with readers through my original writing was attractive, and so I decided to at least look into it more.

After inspiration in the form of Arianna Huffington's Book of Blogging, and a few trips to my favorite Huffington Post, I researched and found the easiest and most manageable blog instrument, and got started.

I decided to use the blog as a personal journal, a way to experiment with different forms of writing, to develop pieces on topics I loved, to write outside my comfort zone at times, to have fun with pictures and links, and to make friends and connections.

It shaped up into a journal I have grown fond of, and I have worked hard at it, and provided the best writing I was capable of creating, and tried to do even better.   I confirmed that while writing is my great love, editing is my passion, and I labored for hours on many pieces to get just the exact right word, the perfect rhythm, and went over and over some pieces even after they were "published".  I am thrilled that I have actual followers who comment...and I have learned much from fellow web-loggers.

I felt that I was taking the first step in a concerted effort to reinvent myself, stay relevant, and more completely develop my love (and modest talent) for writing, especially my beloved film essays, and sentimental pieces about dogs and animals.

Now, according to Newsweek, "Amateur blogs, the original embodiment of Web democracy, are showing signs of decline......about 95% of blogs are launched and quickly abandoned.  A recent Pew study found that blogging has withered as a pastime, with the number of 18- to 24-year-olds who identify themselves as bloggers declining by half between 2006 and 2009."

So now the pride of my re-invention process was about to reveal me to be a dinosaur!!

I refuse to believe it...and so should all devoted bloggers everywhere.

For a guy like me whose interests are broad and who moves quickly between them, blogging has helped me prove my devotion to a purely creative activity on a regular basis.  My portfolio is on line for the whole world to see.  It's not as glamorous as being on-stage basking in the applause of an audience, but it is just as exhausting sometimes!  And a comment to me is like a standing ovation.

The Newsweek piece hit me at first as particularly discouraging, in an odd way vindicating my original disdain for the form as too temporary, not fit for perseverance, and doomed to the scrap heap of past technologies.

But there is so much that is exciting on my fellow blogger's sites, so much dynamic discourse, experiment, and dissent, that I conclude that this form is not going to go away entirely. 

Maybe there is a place for a new kind of hybrid which readers may browse blogs the same way they browse books in a bookstore....a new industry of blog-publishers who can fashion "book-covers" for thousands of blogs, with some kind of flash drive contained within, so a reader may "purchase" the blog, and once loaded into a computer or reader, it keeps getting updated as the blogger keeps writing. 

This will satisfy those who, blessedly, care to browse, and hold the work in one's hands, even sample a bit, and purchase it in a public shop, with the welcome distraction and potential human contact inherent in the best bookstore experience....

Anyway, until I find a way to make that naive dream a reality, I for one will keep going here....


  1. Keep your blog up! I love reading what you have to say and like hearing about your work with the animals at the shelter. Especially the happy endings when they find a good home.

  2. Stan, I am so glad to see you here again...Thank you for the "ovation"....and the very kind words.

  3. Eh, that doesn't sound like blogs are on the decline to me. To me, it says that 95% of people who start blogs aren't serious about it. It's a commitment, and those of us that keep to it -- you, me, Encore Andrew, Nathaniel @ Film Experience, etc. -- we do not apply to that group Newsweek describes. I believe there should always be more readers than contributors, anyway. Glad to hear you've decided to continue.

  4. Neither statistic that Newsweek quotes is particularly surprising. Blogs require a large amount of effort and hours spent typing up the content. And that's just for the few of us that write purely from our own experience with little regard to the form of our written word.

    Bloggers like yourself, Tom, who clearly deeply consider the form and structure of each post must spend significantly more time.

    All this to very little reward - a few comments, passing hits etc. Little wonder that high proportions of first time bloggers struggle to maintain their enthusiasm.

    As blogging as a form gets older than it's only natural that the proportion of younger people who blog gets smaller - like all technological advances the post-teens get the bug quicker but also abandon it quicker.

    Ultimately the important thing is to remember why you started your blog. As long as you stay true to your original intentions and your early concepts then very blogger should continue to publish.

    By the way - this is very much a standing ovation to your piece.

  5. Walter...I agree with you, that it is better to have readers in our midst. Good readers mean better writing.
    Ben...Thank you for your supportive analysis and comments.
    Both of you continue to inspire me with your work...and honor me with your feedback.

  6. Interesting post, Tom! I don't think that blogging is declining as much as it is evolving.

    I think that the people who are leaving the blogosphere are those who weren't really serious about it to begin with. They probably thought of it as "cool" at first until they found out that you needed to update it with fresh content now and then! You can find them on Twitter now where their penchant for short,insipid pronouncements can be given all the attention they are due.

    For the rest of us "diehards" who recognize the value of a forum like this for sharing our thoughts and our creative writing, we are not going anywhere anytime soon. We are too addicted to our writing and the opportunity to get feedback from people who know what they are talking about.

    This "decline" as they call it is merely a culling from the herd of popularity-seeking goofs who follow the gimmick-of-the-moment fads and are probably waiting breathlessly for the next wave in social networking applications.

    This is a good thing because it leaves us an audience of mostly like-minded writers, poets, photographers and artists with a better appreciation for what it is we do here.

  7. Tom...your statement is well-spoken and much appreciated. I for one am glad that you have continued with your have used the form well, and I applaud you for your perseverance in light of your busy life!