Blog Pile

Wandering the (not so) dead blogs

You’ve heard the declarations.

Blogs are dead.

94% of them have not published in the last 120 days.

I did not have time today to visit all 133 million blogs Technorati has been tracking since 2002.

cc licensed flickr photo by john_curley

But I have often marveled at the gems I find by random link walking from blogs- like a hike without a map — from one story that catches my eye, I am curious about a link that leads me down a lovely path, and before I know it, I am finding beautiful information like stumbling into a field of shimmering golden poppies or a maroon mountain vista (little “v” damnit!).

And for me that is a key- if you are one of the 16 or 17 little people who blog, there’s not much originality in following the stories of the Big Boys and Girls, unless you put a different spin on a story. The Good Stuff is finding stuff all those Snooty A-listers are not writing about. There are more trails than you can imagine, and more treasures to find, share, and spend some valuable time wandering among.

This morning I had an idea.

Or maybe too much coffee.

Starting from my RSS reader, I had landed on an interesting story on a blog with a curious name. I got even curiouser about some of the blogroll or linklog names in the sidebar, and wondered, “How far can I wander? What would I find? Is it all tombstones, black rot, and blog tumbleweeds like those big shot writers for Wired try to tell us?’

I found not death, but teeming life.

I found people posting at an astounding rate, and original (and wonderfully strange and often deeply personal and quite silly too) stuff. And I could find no sign that people were in the vain pursuit of a front page Google Rank.

Nor are they lone blogs crying to the moon; they are rich with comments and links.

So take a walk with me…

  • The trailhead is my RSS reader. I get some great visualization and fascninating “data as art” stories from Information Aesthetics . it was here I went down the trail just a few short clicks and ended up at….
  • Strange Maps a collection of… not always strange but interesting maps. Like From Pickin’ Cotton to Pickin’ Presidents where maps of seeminly un-related content and more than a hundred years of time difference… make sense. I peeked over the edge of the sidebar and headed for….
  • where the past predictions of the future, often camp or cheesy, are detailed- Paleo-Future. Like back in 1957, Commuting will be a Breeze, the future looked like we’d be commuting to work in highspeed flying buses! From here I found myself on a precipice with no way out; the blog links from here were but feint trails and nowhere I could continue. This happens when wandering, so I backtracked to Strange Maps and found a different path, down the road to…
  • Bldg Blog all about architectural, and lots of great photos, like the collage art highlighted in Resampled Space– striking images of “new, fictional, architectonic structures.” Wow the view from here is amazing, but I saw a track leading me to…
  • pruned which is still along this trail of architectural related paths, but diverges more into landscaping- and i saw something very familiar from my home start in the magnificent aerial photo looking down at the Central Arizona Project. Improbably, water is sucked from the Colorado River on the California border, pumped up over a 1000+ foot mountain, and then canals its way hundreds of miles to feed the farms and suburbs of Phoenix and Tucson. Now that is quite a journey, but we are going elsewhere, from this blog I can see a shiny odd structure called….
  • candyland. I am not even sure what it is, collections of writings, reflections, and art, but liked the iconography of the traffic light in tomorrow land. Let’s hope the green light stays on, cause we have been stuck at this damned red light getting nowhere for 8 years! Feeling a bit hungry, I saw just up ahead…
  • the bright colors, lively music, and wonderful food smells of Mexico Cooks. It was quite a bit of everything, and lots of pretty things to look at like La Feria del Hongo (The Mushroom Fair) in Senguio, Michoacán (mmmm, should I eat those mushrooms??). Feeling more adventurous, I caught up with…
  • Musings of a Barefoot Foodie who made me smile, and worry a bit about the meal she was preparing— Steak with Ice Cream Sauce . Where else on this wild trail would you come across such things? She suggested I head down the road and catch up with….
  • the warm glow of June Cleaver Nirvana and what a fun, rollicking, place this is! I spent some time taking in the fabulous images of Texas Safari (yes, there are camels in Texas! Why not?). Seeking a quiet spot to reflect under a tree, I found myself immersed in…
  • Quotidian Vicissitudes. And here I found a priceless gem, something really worth sharing (for unlike a nugget of gold, I can make more gems simply by giving them away), The Commenter Meme. Memes are common here in the blog wilderness, but this one is worth thinking about, and maybe adopting as a learning/social networking activity. It asks you to list links to the last 10 commenters on your site, and then asks some questions about each one that requires you spend some time exploring what may be new blogs for you to answer a series of questions such as “1. What is your favorite post from number 3’s blog?” or “5. If you could give one piece of advice to number 7 what would it be?”. I can see teachers maybe doing this with colleagues, or with their students, or maybe… well, I hope you find this as valuable as I did, but sometimes you rush into town with gold and some damn rock expert tells you it is pyrite (which is still nice and shiny, IMHO). Having tucked the gem into my backpack, I saw up on the hill…
  • Vanity Press a place that looks tranquil and plain at first, but draws you into to local stories like Revenge of the Wild Life where you get to understand the challenges of dealing with a problematic Friendly Neighbor (FN). Over on the same reflective ridge, I walked to….
  • All My Own where I started a bit into the waters of I Didn’t Come With An Owner’s Manual, smiled, and wondered what the implication of RTFM in relationships. And then…. I ventured down into a valley of more colors than I could think possible called…
  • Tales of a Tree Hugger and as someone who enjoys looking closely at flowers with my camera, spent some time pleasantly lost in the video Meditation on a flower. And after some time here, I strapped on my pack and…

And on and on I could go. But I will pass this to another hiker, another wanderer. I thought I was venturing into the Valley of Blog Death, but could not really map the places I found on that false map.

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as


  1. > The Good Stuff is finding stuff all those Snooty A-listers are not writing about. There are more trails than you can imagine, and more treasures to find, share, and spend some valuable time wandering among.

    Right. Absolutely.

    It’s really easy to be distracted by the stuff that seems Really Important. But rooting around in the ‘dead stuff’ is equally important. And a lot more interesting.

  2. During reading workshop my students and I quite often read blogs. At the end of the session we share an interesting thing we found/read on one of the blogs.
    This is a great way to document the reading, share the paths that we took and learn how to hyperlink in our posts. Thanks Alan – all that coffee and wilderness in Iceland makes for some great ideas!
    PS: Thanks for skyping with us this morning – the 5th graders are still talking about it – especially the raindeer part!!

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