Richard is talking primarily about the China blogosphere, but what he says is of course applicable to blogging in general, and it reflects a similar sentiment I’ve started to see expressed with increasing frequency; namely, that blogging itself is outdated, obsolete and generally not what the cool kids are doing anymore (in the comments, his exchange with Bob Page fleshes out the theme a little more).
Twitter has obliterated what I used to use the blog for, namely sharing links and offering some commentary. And the China blogosphere is so fragmented it’s much harder to be heard above the din. The fact that I’m caught up in my own issues (I’m planning to launch my own small business soon; I’ll keep you posted) hasn’t helped make this blog more productive. But even if I were as productive as in 2003, the site would be in decline. China blogs are too many, and blogging in general is becoming increasingly antique.
I do miss the “golden age,” from 2003-2005, when I could open a thread before bedtime and wake up to 300 comments. But that required full-time posting and, at its peak, the help of three or four other bloggers all putting up copy throughout the day.
I was running down the blogroll last week, and I saw where Micah Ian Wright of the Propaganda Remix Project had stopped the site’s blog over three years ago:
C’mon… this blog is, like, dead, already
Come Join Me On FacebookI found blogging on Facebook to just be a LOT easier than using Blogger… maybe if I get super famous or something I’ll start a -real- blog, but if you’re just a friend or a fan (or an enemy) looking to touch base, Facebook is the site where you’ll find me.
My first thought was, what the fuck does “easier” have to do with it? Where does “effort” enter into this format at all? You mean I have to save a totally different bookmark for Blogger? And then I have to log in and everything, even if I let my browser save my ID and password? OH GODS THE PAIN MY CLICKY FINGER CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!
Seriously, I remember way back in the mist-enshrouded days of, oh, just under a decade ago when a couple friends and I were talking about building a blog/website from scratch, and what a godsend it seemed like by comparison to go to Blogspot with a name in mind, get a URL, choose a template, and start blogging five minutes later. I can understand people simply preferring Facebook for whatever reason, but it seems insanely spoiled and lazy to act as if it’s too much trouble for people to come to a blog to read your thoughts as opposed to a Facebook wall, just like it flabbergasts me to see how people act as if emailing is a laborious chore when you could just be texting instead. If only we could have electrodes implanted in our brains that would process and distribute our thoughts for us so we didn’t have to go to the excruciating effort of typing them by hand…!
Like I was just saying about the prophesying of the printed book’s extinction, I think we’ve always been infatuated with portentously declaring the death of traditions and trends, when often all we mean is that they don’t have their glitzy novelty anymore. I can understand why people would say that about blogs, but to be honest, I rarely find the mega-blogs worth reading anyway, so I really don’t care if they start to suffer precipitous drop-offs in traffic and commentary (comments at huge political blogs are comparable to YouTube for sheer inanity) as users flock to newer social media. They tend to be lowest-common-denominator sinkholes who only link to other members of the blogosphere’s upper-class, so good riddance in any event. (Though if someone like Atrios started posting exclusively on Twitter, would it even make a difference in his writing style?)
At any rate, it greatly amuses me to think that I could already be some sort of dinosaur by preferring to stick to blogging and email for communication. A digital Luddite. But I prefer a small audience anyway, which is why I make zero effort to promote this space. Aside from the apparent correlation between number of commenters and lack of intelligent discussion, I like being able to actually talk back and forth with those who do comment; I wouldn’t want to have to take a removed role of regulating trolls and refereeing fights. And I imagine I can’t be the only one who prefers a format that allows us to attempt to make Proust look like a haiku poet with our witless ramblings. Hasn’t anyone considered what will become of all the windbags if no one reads blogs anymore? We’ll be right back to bothering you in person again, that’s what.
Let the majority move on to twatting and friending each other silly. Those of us who remain can possibly settle down to making blogging into something more artistic and substantial, free of trendy, superficial attention.