I have been ruminating over this post for months. Back in August Patrick Rothfuss wrote a blog post about the nature of blogging, and then I read another post shortly after author John Scalzi on how he is reflecting on his blog’s future, which got me thinking about blogging as an art form. I came of in the age when blogging emerged as the heir apparent to the personal journal so it is interesting to see how the internet has shifted to more social sharing and away from “the blog”.
Blogging tools have flattened the distribution model for putting out content so that anyone (i.e. me) can put out content and thus we’ve drastically increased the noise in the blogging sphere, which causes internet users to have more options than ever before in terms of content. This variety has lead to blogging’s success though has also weakened the discipline in someways.
Scalzi writes about trying to understand where blogs belong in the greater zeitgesit:
This is a fact that among other things is causing me both practical and existential reflection on what this place is, and what it means to me, and what is the best way to keep doing it moving forward, particularly in an age where “blogs” are not the center of online gravity that they used to be.
I have always loved Scalzi’s sharp prose and “online gravity” is well stated. I think as blogging has become more “noisy” users are looking for another signal for value, which has heralded social media’s rise. We started looking to people we know (in real life and online) as barometers for content value. (Though that is changing as social media influencers like entertainers, athletes, artists or others with fame leverage their popularity to advertise for brand or products and/or services. If someone is being paid for endorsing a product or service how should that be weighted in relation to someone’s unpaid opinion.)
Meanwhile in a galaxy not so far away, Rothfus writes about how blogging has lost the joy:
I still think of stories that it would be fun to tell…. but the thought of putting them up here? It wearies me. I feel so tired all the time lately. And it’s not just that I’m too busy, underslept, and behind on everything. It’s not just that the world is very heavy on me lately, and I’ve been having trouble finding joy.
The question remains that if prominent/longtime bloggers like Scalzi and Rothfuss has become uninspired and/or wonder about the vitality in the blog ecosystem where does that leave the rest of the us. This particular blog (unordinarytales.com) has been iterated over the years as a review website, newsletter, or even a social media feed on several disparate platforms (Blogger,Tumblr, and Instagram) with Medium being the latest iteration. Blogging for the rest of us provides a way for our thoughts to live beyond ourselves for our families and communities. Much like how humans dream to work out problems and refine their thoughts blogs too provide a way for the writer mull over their ideas and build consensus. Blogging may not be a joyful experience though being joyful doesn’t necessarily provide value. Like how email went from being a joy to a foundational information tool so too has blogging gone thru the same metamorphosis. Blogging provides an institutional record for the individual and for others who could interested in the writer’s life. The internet and blogging can preserve our ideas in perpetuity.
*Scalzi and Rothfuss have been blogging for years (Scalzi’s blog Whatever has been around since the late 1990s and Rothfuss has been blogging since 2007.)