Hey, you guys remember blogging?
It was a thing like ten, fifteen years ago. Back when the internet was a series of tubes, and not just five big troughs of content into which we thrust our hungry maws each day, consuming the work of others and vomiting our own into the seething mass of…. *cough* …anyway. My point is that what was once a place of great freedom has become centralised around a few huge sites. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Amazon. (RIP Tumblr.) Blogging has been replaced by Facebook posts, and, increasingly, YouTube videos.
This is a bit of a bummer to me. “Authortube”, as it is known, is a big deal, but it’s one I haven’t really interfaced with much. I’m a naturally shy person – I have social anxiety, though it’s well-managed at present – and I hate hearing my voice on recordings, let alone seeing my face on video, so filming my own videos falls into a strange category. I don’t want to do it, at all, and yet a part of me feels like I should. “Don’t you want to grow your brand? Don’t you want to form a community?” I just feel uncomfortable about it. I have my academic “career” to think of too, and I don’t want students or faculty stumbling onto my videos. Awkward. Part of it, too, is that it feels like a self-publishing focused community, and self-publishing just isn’t for me.
What are the other options, for a writer looking to connect with others?
Facebook: No, thank you.
Instagram: really great for publishing shots, but not for writing, and honestly I find myself more and more nostalgic for the app as it was before Facebook bought it. Facebook is becoming like the corollary to Yahoo. Yahoo kills everything it touches; Facebook kills what it touches too, but instead of just dying its prey morphs into a corrupted undead, kept upright by the sheer number of its users, and consuming everything in its path.
Twitter: Good for chatting, the occasional witty remark, keeping up with the news and with memes that are born, parodied, and killed by some brand within the space of five hours. Also good for posting links to other places. Like blogs. Or, more likely, YouTube or Instagram.
It’s bizarre to be nostalgic for the days of MySpace and Geocities, where everything was neon or black, and pages auto-played midi music. Every website felt closed-off and self-contained. Ironically, though individual sites now feel more open and connected, we’ve pared down the places we visit. The clumsiness of the old web now has a sort of charm to it.
And blogs! Back when everyone had their very own – and OK, it was on, like, deadjournal or Vampire Freaks or melodramatica (or was that just me?) and now you’re too embarrassed to look at them. But they were your own thoughts. Other people’s own thoughts. Actual articles and musings written by people, not an edited picture and a few performative lines, not a tossed-off joke you thought would get more retweets, not the work of someone else reposted into your feed. Back in The Day, there used to be something called a Webring, which was a series of websites on the same subject connected together. Webrings more or less died after Google came along, but the advantage to them was that you could stumble across some really interesting and obscure stuff. Websites constructed for one purpose and never updated, websites that would otherwise be buried back on page 15 of Google or would never show up at all because the owner sucked at SEO. And yeah, they were often poorly made. There’s a reason we used to call it “Geoshitties”. There was still something intriguing about stumbling across a website back then, counter at the top right still under five digits, realising it was about a bizarre conspiracy theory and getting sucked into clicking on links to other bizarre conspiracy theory websites for hours.
Blogs. I think once I wanted to start writing one, they’d all died out. The worst part of it is that I want to read them as well, and people aren’t writing them. Or they are, but I can’t find them. Webrings are dead, no one keeps a blogroll any more, and it’s not easy to find blogs about writing and books that aren’t “How to write a blog post”. SEO has failed me once more.
I was glad to see, when I opened Feedly this morning, that I’m not the only one hoping blogs make a comeback. Chuck Wendig likewise recently blogged about blogs, their death, and a hope for resurrection.
Please, internet. Write some blogs. I want to connect with other writers and their thoughts – not on YouTube or on Facebook, but in their own space, where writers are writing, not talking to the camera. I enjoy YouTube, but I can’t enjoy it on the bus. Give me something to read on my commute that isn’t Twitter.
What are you writing? How are you writing? What’s your routine? What’s in your pen case? What’s in your notebooks? What are you reading right now?
Tell me everything.
And leave your links in the comments below. Maybe, while we’re at it, we’ll resurrect the Blogroll.