I’m not really making any judgments about all this. Personally, I miss old-school blogging and the conversations it started. But I also recognize that what I’m saying about Twitter is very much what traditional print journalists said about blogging back in the day. You have to respond within a day! You have to make your point in 500 words or less! Whatever happened to deeply considered long-form pieces that took weeks to compose and ran several thousand words? Sure, those conversations took months to unfold, but what’s the rush?
Well, they were right to an extent. And now conversations have become even more compressed. Some people think that’s great, others (like me) are more conflicted about it. When I respond to something, I usually want to make a serious point, and Twitter makes that awfully hard. Writing a coherent multi-part tweet is just way harder than simply writing a 500-word blog post. On the other hand, the tweet will get seen by far more people than the post and be far more timely.
Yeah, it’s that time again. Andrew Sullivan’s decision to retire from blogging will likely inspire several more epitaphs for the genre. But let’s avoid the predictable clichés, shall we? Blogging isn’t dying; it’s coming down from a several-year cocaine binge. An artificial spike of frenzied activity complete with delusions of grandeur, now settling back into humdrum routine with a touch of paranoia. As always, there is plenty of good stuff being written by authors who either don’t know or don’t care that they’re not considered the hot new thing. The rambling, personal essay that has survived from Montaigne’s time to ours will outlast the trendiness of social media and toy phones, too.