Raising the Flag flickr image by selyfridayflickr creative commons photo Raising the Flag by selyfriday

This has nothing to do with McDonalds, but I loved the flickr image so much, I’m making a metaphorical stretch.

No, this is a clarion call to Remember the Blog! As we get more distributed in where our e-attention goes, be it various social networks, virtual worlds, and more recently twitter, I’m wondering, as are others, about a decline in blogging.

  • Steve Rubel pondered, posed the question (on twitter). Now, here’s where it gets interesting. Will people spend less time writing or reading blogs and more time Twittering? I posed this question on Twitter and got a resounding no. I am not so sure.
  • The Guardian reported a summary of the Gartner report suggesting blogging is on the decline New research by Gartner, the US technology analyst, suggests the number of new blogs peaked in October and that an estimated 200m have been abandoned and left to rot in cyberspace.
  • Marshall Kirkpatrick is twittering more than blogging. I was honestly woken up last week by the fear that I would stop blogging because Twitter is so much more compelling.
  • D’arcy Norman first noted his shift in blogging versus social networking, I’ve been posting to my blog far less frequently than ever before, in the entire history of this blog. Why is that? I’m still busy doing stuff. I’m still active in all the same places. The only shift lately is that I’ve also been much more active in social networking sites, specifically Twitter and Facebook., but later, after his discussion of the twitter disgruntled Scott Leslie, spoke more about Blogs and the TwitterIf people are pumping their content and energy into Twitter, something that is by nature largely ephemeral and transient (both in server uptime and lifespan of content) then the blogosphere is effectively losing out.

So this is a second of two blog posts I am published that are somewhat propelled by Scott’s frustration with the twitter service, but also nicely flavored with the passion I remember Barbara Ganley evoking in her presentation at Faculty Academy:

I want to speak up for blogging. For ourselves. For our students. And I know that some of you don’t want to feel obligated to blog just because you have your students blog, and that some of you have moved down the road, shedding your blogging for newer clothes. Don’t abandon your practice just yet…

So that’s a long pre-amble, maybe even longer than the statement I was hoping to get to.

Like others mentioned here, and elsewhere, I have gotten a good vibe from the whiffs of the things like tiwtter and other high engaging “presence now” social network tools. But I never, ever, EVUH see it really knocking off my dedication to the process of my blog. Maybe my attention gets slightly diverted, or posts get spread out, but here is my case for being true to your blog.

  1. Your blog is your one best public record of who you are, what you think, what you do. This place for me, since I started this back in 2002, was really about Me Documenting Stuff For My Sake. My search saves me, it is my reference, but this blog is the hub, the Grand Central Station, for most things I have done since then.
  2. A blog, with the appropriate addons, presents your public edifice. Okay, this is a restatement of number 1, but with syndication, flikcr badges, del.icio.us rolls, even tweet doo-dads, you can pull in the pieces of your external activities in these other nether places. Yes, technically, there are other “aggregator’ tools that can functionally do the same thing, but not in the personal, customized method a blog provides.
  3. You (mostly) own the blog. A bit tricky, but if you are running your own copy of blog software on your own domain, that you are God/Goddess of Your Own Data Destiny. Not at the whim of twitters cats or bloggers burps. Well, your ISP may goof up on you, but running your own software, or even using something like WordPress.com, you ought to be able to Get Your Data Out.
  4. Your Blog is Findable Do you think we will reallu be abel to dig out gems of important information from searches of past tweets? Where does all that flow stuff go? Into the lost sock bureau? Your blog is indexed by Google, Yahoo, technorati, and makes your presence an active light on the web grid.
  5. Your blog (can be) the most representative voice and mode of your communication. You’re not limited by characters length, or form of expression. You can be a link shover, a long essay-ist. You can write in picture, or in video, or mix them up. You can write novels, vague praise, etc. The blog has no limit really on the form.

Okay, I thought I had compelling reasons, but maybe not. So rather than thinking I can really convince anyone, I make my own statement of dedication to the process of blogging (not the presentation of it, once I referred to blog as both a noun and a verb), including the reflection and commentary on the worlds around me, near and far, of my own place in it, the importance of participating in other blogs via comments.

Take the time, as Barbara has suggested for the notion of “slow-blogging”- hammering out something crafted (not like this stream of consciousness) or worked over like hand made bread, ideas that you kneed (and need), that have had time to let rise a bit. Be provocative. or mysterious. Take a stand, even a I Refuse To Use Cat Ridden Twitter Stand.

As much as I have been excited about all kinds of technology over the last XX years, nothing truly comes close to the subtle power of being able to express ourselves, in the form, shape, tone, colors, that we choose in our own personal blog space.

So set aside twitter for a few nanoseconds of partial attention, and commit something meaningful to your blog, where it will always be, and where it can mean something to others.

Viva La Blog!

The post "Viva La Blog" was originally cracked open and scrambled from a rotten egg at CogDogBlog (http://cogdogblog.com/2007/05/viva-la-blog/) on May 28, 2007.

13 Comments

  • Chris L

    The reason these arguments to blog or not to blog are not very compelling is because they don’t go deep enough into the question and they confound many potentially unrelated things.

    1) To accept the idea that people who already know about blogging and even those who are experienced bloggers need to be “persuaded” to continue the practice calls into question the importance of the practice… not intrinsically, but in comparison to other emerging kinds of communication. I have to think that if people have to be convinced to continue blogging as much as before, then perhaps the form simply doesn’t meet some needs, but has for too long been wedged to meet them anyway, and what we are seeing is really a sigh of relief at having a form that is more appropriate for certain kinds of communication.

    2) Again I will argue that the assumption of web comm being a zero-sum activity (both for reasons above and below) is perilous because it is not only unproven, but assumes a kind of value scale of communication activities that doesn’t take into account the content of the communications being made.

    3) If something is as easily and satistfyingly said via Twitter, then why say it in a longer form? In my experience as reader and writer, those thoughts with merit and interest will become the seeds for longer forms anyway… but now there is a place for thoughts which are more ephemeral and which one might think were previously glutting blogs because writing there many feel compelled to go on at more length than their content often deserves.

    4) I’m always suspicious of “it’s good for you” kinds of arguments about communication and writing. If the form doesn’t support itself among those who are already practicing it, trying to be convincing that it’s good for one to continue is a fool’s errand (at least in terms of utility)… trying to convince people that it’s good for the community might have more success, but what could be more sterile than the product of writing not out of one’s heart, but out of obligation to what is good for others? Ganley and others acting like parents trying to “protect” people from their natural impulses towards different forms of communication can be taken in many ways, but most importantly it just seems futile, like every other such protectionist, superior argument made about something new… it wasn’t that long ago that people were being warned away from the sexy but misleading shallowness of those blog things.

    5) Statistics are like bikinis as they say. Many blogs are abandoned… is that a bad thing or simply an indicator that the blogging form doesn’t work for everyone for everything? Would those abandoned blogs be active without Twitter? Would it matter? What about those who would then be voiceless? Do we make the same arguments about non-blog web pages, podcasts, vodcasts, and whatever else comes down the pike to “compete” with the blog? So far I haven’t heard anyone complaining about those beyond the notion that podcasts take longer to listen to.

    I don’t disagree a bit about the values of blogging… I have my own set of arguments for it both practical and verging on the mystical. But I do think that the form isn’t for everyone and it’s never going to be… any more than poetry or short fiction or essays– or any kind of written product– suits everyone.

  • Amen, brother, AMEN!!!

  • The above Amens are for both Chris and Alan, by the way.

    I have to agree with you Alan that the blog is a portal/archive/experimental space/hanging tree/home for me. I would be lost without it. And Chris makes an amazing set of points about many of the assumptions bloggers bring to blogging. Most importantly, it’s not a form for everyone. It takes a ton of time to blog well. I said something similar on Brian’s blog, but Antonella and I wouldn’t be having so much fun online these days if it weren’t for twitter. Additionally, how would I be keeping up with Keira in NYC? There are people on Twitter I have much less access to otherwise. So, having it serves a much different purpose then my blog, but it has also come to fuel my blog much more. The most enjoyably insane post I have yet to write was generated by a twit from Keira about places to see in the big apple. In fact, just through this comment it becomes readily apparent how twitter has afforded non-bloggers a quick and easy space to join a larger online conversation that butts up against blogs, websites, and wikis, but is not exclusive to any of these forms.

    Privileging the blog is fun, and for me a no brainer. But I have to recognize, as Chris does so well, that it is part of my job. A ton of folks still can’t say that, and I’d hate to see them have to take on a second job to join the conversation!

  • Here, here, Alan.

    I have been wondering, thinking, and reflecting about comments of blogging’s demise over the past week. You have stated most of what I think about the benefit of blogging. Blogging is (for good or bad) a record of my thoughts. It could be to my advantage or disadvantage some day. The need to consider my words carefully in the process of posting is important. It is the process of self-editing, and, in some cases, self-control.

    I have made comments about Twitter, that I don’t get its appeal. You have made me clarify my thoughts on this. “I don’t get the appeal for reflective people” is more accurate. To me, blogging is the thinking man”s (and woman’s) Twitter. Twitter, and “poking” someone in a social network board, lacks thought. It is more of an ego-centric “look at me, and please pay attention” tool. Twitter may have its place, but not when it comes to critical thinking, reflection, and best practices.

    I receive and contribute in the blogosphere. There is substance in most of what I choose to read in blogs. If you give me your thoughts on the presentation, I learn (blogging). If you tell me you’re attending a presentation, I don’t care (Twitter). I try to get middle school students away from “twitter-like” work, and more toward the critical thinking involved in blogging. Then I begin reading educational blogs about how great Twitter is. I’m not sure what to think.

  • Thanks all for jumping in, especially Chris with what I think is good, healthy skepticism. I neglected to emphasize, that I was really (like 99% of the time, and what bloggers do) talking about myself- anyone who dishes out or accepts blanket statements like “Everyone should blog and not tweet” is a fool and a half.

    And like often happens, we end up down a track of “ether/or”- I am not advocated Blogging vs Twitter; I get something out of themselves. My lament was the thought of a vast sucking sound of all the good blog writing going away, itself not a reality either.

  • I have been wondering lately if things like Tumblelogs would act as catching spots for folks burning out on blogs – a spot for those who consume web content but don’t normally take the time to write it (all my friends who who back in the day seemed to read all their email but never have time to write one in reply). The cyclical style of that would far too amusing though. I also wonder b/c I haven’t posted this thought to my blog, but I did jot it in jaiku (and twitter). So maybe things like Twitter and tumblr will be the things that win us towards slow blogging after all . . .

  • I tried a slow tweet today.. I lingered and spent all of 57 seconds on it ;-)

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  • Dean Shareski ideasandthoughts.org

    Good stuff from you and Chris….how can that be?

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