Alan Jacobs:

Not many people read this blog, but those who do typically just read the most recent posts — three days back, max. I add links to earlier posts, but almost no one clicks on them. People don’t click on tags either. And I think that’s because we have all been trained by social media to skim the most recent things and then go on to something else. We just don’t do deeper dives any more. So one of the things I want to be thinking about is: How can I encourage readers of my blog to seek some of the benefits that I get from it?

Jacobs says he still hopes for a blogging renaissance, but in order for that to happen, he thinks readers will have to become more invested in the project. He notes that one of the fun things about tending a blog is seeing the development of your thought over time as it pertains to certain themes and topics, and if I’m understanding him correctly, he wishes his readers were equally as interested in the history of that development. Like any narcissist, I’m happy to reflect on the scintillating wonder that is me, but I can’t imagine why other people would be interested.

I think of blogging as a reflective form of conversation, sometimes with particular individuals, other times with a generic Constant Reader in mind. I don’t need to know your life story to have a good conversation with you now. If we continue to converse, I trust the relevant details will reveal themselves organically, in their own good time, as in real-life relationships. I don’t want to grab your lapels like the Ancient Mariner and say, “Hey, thanks for visiting my site! Let me tell you everything I’ve ever thought about this subject! Here’s the links; start clicking!” As a reader, I tend to feel about hyperlinks the way Noël Coward felt about footnotes. I appreciate that an author wants to be diligent in providing context and supporting evidence, but I’m still not going to click on more than two or three links in a typical post or article, and to be honest, there are few if any writers so compelling as to make me want to go through years and years of their archives. As a writer, assuming similar tendencies in my own readers, this just provides the interesting challenge of how to rephrase things I’ve already said for those who haven’t heard them before.

As for that blogging renaissance, well, that seems like one of those monkey’s-paw type of wishes to me, even if it were possible. I’m happy for blogs to remain a niche activity for a quiet minority, the online equivalent of flyover country. Dunbar’s number — it’s not just a good idea, it’s the law!