The Death of the Blog

Is the blog, as a form of expression, dying all over the world or is it just mine?

It feels like an ‘all over the world’ thing but the Internet is funny like that. You can slip into thinking that your own tiny corner of it is the whole damn thing and that everything that happens to tiny-you and your tiny-cohort is happening all over the world at the same time. 

It’s probably not. Somewhere in the world, great new blogs are probably starting and making friends and drawing in excited readers and commenters. Somewhere, far far away, it’s only just starting to kick off.

Here, though, in my little corner of the world, it’s been feeling a little like the end for some time now. Increasingly, people are getting what they need from Facebook and Twitter. They do their blogging there in micro format and they get the blogging fix they need too.

The blog itself starts to feel like yesterday’s tech. Just like what happened to the ‘personal webpage’ some years ago. With the availability of instant tech, it feels like a something of a vanity to expect people to come especially to your own little place to read your own little overwritten musings. Why bother reading 800 words when 140 characters will do?

Facebook and Twitter don’t lend themselves to blogs and blog links. Facebook only shows people what it wants to show and blog links seem to be very far down that list. And the poor people of Twitter have clicked on so many blog links down the years that they are burned out by the lack of quality and tired of all the self-indulgent repetition.

Quite right too. I have no gripe with any of that.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the action I used to get off my blog over the last six years. A respectable quantity of visitors, a wave of comments, an element of it being passed around and reacted-to. And the fond memories too, like the tiny post that suddenly got 170 comments or the cold St Stephen’s Day when 50,000 people came to read my little ghost story. Good times.

And this is not a plea for more readers or renewed readers or anything like that. Definitely not. One of my least favourite things is the thought that someone would be on my blog without explicitly wishing to be there. That has always been the case. If you ever fancy it, drop by. If not, that’s ultra-cool too.

So, yeah, I don’t know if the blog as a form of expression is dying all over the universe or just in my back yard but it’s certainly coughing and spluttering a little bit over here. It’s been going on for a while now so I thought it was time to take a view on things, a little inventory of the current situation, and have a think about the best way forward for me and my blog. 

All of which leads me on to making a small and largely insignificant announcement to the fistful of people who will get to see this.


I ain’t stopping.

No sirree. I’m just going to try to carry on doing what I do, regardless of whether it gets read by anybody or not.

Some years ago, I did a post about why I bothered blogging at all. In it, I wondered if nobody came to read the posts, could I really carry on doing it? It turns out that the answer to this question is an emphatic ‘yes’. I am happy to do it for myself. I enjoy the challenge of coming up with some form of post every week and of trying to make it as good as I can. I am quite pleased with the body of work I have amassed by rising to this challenge every time.

I also think it’s improved my writing quite a bit. I’ve got better at composing my thoughts and formatting an argument. Most importantly, I’ve got better at plugging into my slightly rawer emotions and setting them down. That’s something I was no good at before the blog.

I’m happy to write it for myself. I like looking back over previous year’s entries and seeing the slightly younger, slightly different, person who wrote there. It’s all good.

And, of course, I’m not just writing for myself. Not really. There’s always a few people who drop by. There’s always someone old and there’s always someone new and, now and again, I may even succeed in touching somebody with a word or a tone or a shared experience.

So I’ll trundle along for another while at least. Writing not for the crowd, and not just for me, but for the ‘occasional’ person who might just happen along.


How's it going?

Thanks for stopping by.


Jim Murdoch said...

According to the Wordpress site 409 million people view more than 16.3 billion pages each month. Users produce about 61.8 million new posts and 55.4 million new comments each month. These are silly numbers. But here’s the thing and this is where the Internet falls flat on its face: there’s no way to locate the good stuff. It’s like asking a machine to throw up images of beautiful women. We’d get all the ones we’d expect to get but the thing with me when it comes to beautiful women is that there has to be a level of attainability. Could I see myself with… let’s say Alex Kingston (purely because we watched a programme with her on TV last night)? And the answer is, yes. She can look glamourous and sexy but she can also look like the single mother next door with three kids who’s barely making ends meet. When you ask Google to show you literary site its chucks up all the ‘sexy’ sites, sites like Poetry and The New Yorker and Huffington Post. I suppose you and I’ll be there somewhere in the 38,700,000 pages but it cuts potential visitors off after 457 entries. 457! out of 39 million! Utterly ridiculous. And let’s face it most of will’ve given up searching after six of seven pages of links. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I don’t like being dictated to any more than the size 16 women who’re told they need to get down to a size 12 or less or face ending up on the shelf. I don’t think I’ve even dated a girl less than a size 14. I’m not sure Scotland makes women less than a size 14 and yet there’re some cracking Scottish lassies out there but very few Scottish film stars. Which is fine by me because I don’t think I’d like to date a film star to be honest.

You get where I’m coming from. You can’t fight the fact. There are millions of blogs and there’re only so many topics people want to blog about so there much be hundreds or even thousands of blogs that you and I would enjoy reading but will never get to see because we travel in different circles and there’s a lot of that online: A links to B, C, D and E’s blogs ; B links to A, C, F, and G’s blogs; C links to B, C, D and E; D links to A, B, G and H and so on and so forth. No one even knows X, Y and Z exist. This is where Facebook lets us down because when people do stumble across X, Y or Z they never tell anyone about it. They don’t even bookmark it. They pass on by because they’ve already got too much to deal with. This is how I feel about TV. I have more TV saved up than I’ll even watch. Entire series. And yet I watch crap. Or maybe not crap—I don’t watch Keeping Up with the Kardashians or anything—but I do watch stuff with one eye on my tablet because I really don’t care that much about it but we’ve watched the first six seasons and really ought to see the thing through to the end. (I’m thinking about shows like Bones.)

It’s a symptom of the modern world that we simply have to contend with. I wouldn’t even call it fashion consciousness. What it is is a limited choice. Which is perverse. They follow the crowd, believe the hype. There’s nothing that delights me more than discovering something no one’s ever heard about and I can think of three examples: Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Regina Spektor and Emily the Strange. I used to invite groups of friends round to my house to view Bill and Ted because no one even knew the film existed and it was great. I discovered Regina Spektor by souring performers who sounded like Tori Amos (my daughter’s a huge fan) and I can across Emily the Strange in a tiny bookstore in Glasgow’s west end a couple of years before she started to appear on backpacks and T-shirts.

What I haven’t done in while is look for new friends. I did at the start when I had no one. I spent days and days trawling through blog lists looking for interesting people to follow. Now it’s the same handful, so few I could probably remember all their names and you know what my memory’s like. Why don’t I? Apathy I think. Or burnout.

Cathy said...

I just wrote a long reply, pushed 'publish', and it then swallowed it up when it asked who I am, 'it' being the internet. :( It shows how very rarely I comment on articles or blogs, that I don't know how to do this.
I love reading your blogs, though I rarely come here to the site to comment. I receive your posts via email and so miss the chance to comment or even read others, such as Jim's, who is a faithful follower, I know, and who replies regularly. I can see how that can be discouraging to bloggers when your readers don't reply, though I love your stories, such as last week's, or when you share your thoughts and memories on other occasions. As Jim said, there's so much to read and one has to make choices. I spent two or three hours yesterday, trying to catch up with Twitter, an impossible task! If I can't keep up with it daily, then reading for a couple of free hours isn't going to help much. But I have found some of my favourite authors by clicking on links, and you are definitely among my favourites.
As long as you write, undaunted, I will read your posts, and in fact, look forward to them each week. :)

Marc Paterson said...

I have recently eschewed Twitter. I am close to eschewing Facebook too. You however will never be eschewed. Consider yourself uneschewed, Ken.

Karen Redman said...

I am such an erratic blogger that I have no idea if anyone still bothers to drop by my teeny tiny corner of the internet and, if anyone does, I feel really rather bad about neglecting it so badly. I always look forward to reading your blog which arrives in my email in box each week and I would be most sad if you ever decided not to keep on doing what you do so very well.

Claire Boyles said...

It's not just you, there are so many people blogging, and using bizarre headlinep that ordinary interesting blog posts don't get a look in. You're right about Facebook too, it doesn't like people LEAVING facebook to read things, so shows links less, unless you say for advertising of course!
I'm glad you've reached a decision that you'll continue to writd, I don't alwayp get time to read your posts, but when I do I alwayp enjoy them.

Ben said...

Hi Ken. I don't stop by very often but you are one of the few bloggers I knew back in the EC/CMF days. Finding the good blogs using both of those sites was easier than I think it is now.

Blogging goes in cycles - as one group cycles out, another cycles in. Some people stick around for longer, but so many of the blogs I used to read have closed long ego. It is good to hear you are continuing.

Last week, I closed Quick Blog Tips as I felt it had run its course. But I didn't stop blogging altogether, as I still have my personal blog. One thing I did change recently was to disable comments. Most people who check in either reply on Facebook or Twitter, or they like/retweet a post rather than leaving a comment. For the occasional one or two legit blog comments I received, I was getting hundreds of automated spam comments. That took a lot of the fun out of blogging for me - it became a chore to clean out the spam and felt like a job I had to do, but didn't want to.

I'm having a fun time at the moment, writing much more often and finally getting hundreds of long-running opinions into decent posts. I hope this isn't something I'll tire of in a week or two. Rather than burning out due to posting too often, I'm more worried about losing interest. So I figured it's probably better to "backfill" a little while I want to write. With your approach - posting once a week - it's great to see you've stuck to it. We watch TV shows or listen to radio shows every week when they're on. Blogging weekly is a nice way to do it.

I also find it's much more enjoyable to blog when I'm happy. If I'm overworked or miserable I don't particularly want to blog. So as I'm happier at the moment, that helps too.

Incidentally, it is always reassuring to visit a friend's blog and see it still referred to as a "blog". Rather than the comment I've read in a few circles over the last year or so - "blogging is now content marketing". Bollocks to that. "Blogging" is fine for me.

hope said...

It's because 140 characters doesn't tell the whole story. Great start for a headline maybe. :)

I think in truth, blogging will finally fall to the "storytellers" of the world. Those of us who like to observe human nature and comment out of a sense of joy/confusion/anger/laughter seem to be more engaged with PEOPLE than technology. So, no matter how great (and annoying) quick technology gets, I'd rather visit here and let you tell me a story. And deep down, I hope that when I write a story, it reminds people we're connected by the human experience, no matter what the media.

But hey, I still like to read books with paper pages you can turn. ;)

Don't stop. I'm still here enjoying every word!

Ken Armstrong said...

Jim: I've known Bill and Ted from the start and my son has met Regina Spektor. No point, just bragging. :)

Cathy: Thank you. Some of my most faithful returnees are via email. :)

Thanks Karen, you stalwart you. :)

Marc: I'll miss you off Twitter, as you well know. Mind yourself.

Claire: No pressure. Anytime you drop by is a good time.

Jees, Be, we go waay back and you are the Blog-Man. you gotta keep going, in some form or another. :)

Hope: I'm with you, really. It's all about the stories. And, as long as there are stories to tell, we'll hang around. x

auntyamo said...

glad you're not stopping x

Professor Batty said...

It doesn't get any easier. I've followed a few bloggers for over ten years and most of them have changed to a more commercial format. I do miss the freewheeling days (2002-2005) when you could find a big variety of blogs, some of which were quite original. There will always be a place for good stories, well told.