Nine years ago today, I decided to see what this strange new fad of blogging was about. Within a month, I had discovered that it was surprisingly addictive. Nine years later, I’m still going.
At this point in time, I expect that I will be still be running this blog on the blog’s tenth anniversary. I expect I will still be writing novels and non-fiction books and I’ll need a web site to promote them and house my portfolio, and a blog is still the best way I know to keep my content fresh. However, as you can see from the past few months, my pace has slowed. My subject matter has changed. I used to be a very political blogger, and while I still talk about politics on occasion, I’m finding that I’m far more interested in writing about writing, and reviewing the books I’ve read. Part of it could be the paucity of politics in Canada. I’ve spent so much time complaining about the vindictiveness and incompetence of the Harper administration that, today, I’m left with little recourse but to roll my eyes. That might be satisfying, but that doesn’t make for satisfying blogging.
On the other hand, maybe it’s me. I’ve still been active in the past few months, even if my blog hasn’t. I’ve finished the second draft of Icarus Down and begun a search for an agent to represent it. I’ve seen my eldest daughter enter senior kindergarten and start to read on her own. I’ve seen my youngest daughter go into pre-school and get progressively more verbal. I’ve seen my two children fight like cats. I have other things to write about that give me far more joy than the state of our political nation. I’ve added several dozen new articles to the Transit Toronto web site, and I’m proud at how active that site has become.
I’m also finding that blogging isn’t nearly as active a hobby now as it was nine or even five years ago. The political blogging associations like the Blogging Tories or the Progressive Bloggers are rarely referred to in the media these days, and interest in the Blogging Alliance of Non-Partisan Canadians appears to be on the wane. Numerous blogs have or are about to pass their tenth anniversary, but they’re doing so with very little fanfare. Blogs have been supplanted by Facebook and Twitter; the prediction that blogging journalists would replace the mainstream media just doesn’t seem to be happening. Many blogs have gone defunct and those that remain have become personal playgrounds and scratch pads for people who don’t want to spend the money to buy a diary.
Blogs, I think, have gone very niche. There are a few blogs out there that are still big, like Boing Boing and the Huffington Post, but the “long tail” of smaller bloggers has become very long indeed, and it’s become very hard to dissect the signal from the noise. Of the bloggers that remain, they’ve become very small, very interconnected and very personal communities where people share ideas and ultimately build friendships. This, I think, is a very positive feature of blogging, but it’s not one that’s likely to attract nationwide attention, or pull somebody from a Facebook page or a Twitter account. Dr. Dawg’s Blawg is the most active political blog that I peruse nowadays. It seems unlikely that Dawg himself will be called up to, say, the Agenda as a blogging pundit with his finger on the pulse of the blogosphere, but it is still a very intimate, at times very intense discussion of the goings on in the world with — miracle of miracles — contributions from both sides of the political spectrum. It s a fascinating debate and a gem for those lucky enough to stumble upon it. Similarly bookbloggers — a blogging niche that I seem to be falling into with this blog — contain these intense and intimate communities. They’re smaller than they may have been a few years ago, but what you lose in the quantity of the discussion, you gain in the quality.
It’s still the audience that keeps me interested in maintaining my blog. I maintain a few regulars who have stayed with me for years, now, and it’s been invigorating connecting with them and knowing that my words are being heard by people out there who are interested in hearing them. Blogging is still a safety valve and a personal soap box, but it is more than just a diary or a family newsletter for me. Blogging is still finding its place, having been supplanted by the new social media sites that have emerged, but it has a place. It takes a little more effort than to set up a Facebook or Twitter account, but for those who invest the time in putting a blog together, it’s still worthwhile.
Here’s to the next year, and to the coming tenth anniversary.