I started this blog in 2003. I was looking for work and it gave me a creative outlet – something to do other than check Monster every hour hoping that companies in the Raleigh-Durham area had suddenly started hiring marcomm managers again. Most – no, all – of the blogs I read at the time were personal journals: mainly of a small group of friends, but the circle eventually broadened, as it does, to include people who stumbled across one of us and started reading, commenting on and blogrolling all of us. Plooble’s apex came when Wendy McClure added me to her blogroll at Pound and my hit count went north of 1,500 per day.
Eventually, inevitably, I got a full-time job and no longer had the time to write carefully-crafted posts with a thesis and conclusion and a photo to go with it. The problem was I had set myself a standard for the blog and had a very difficult time making the shift to blogging sporadically and about whatever popped into my head. One by one, Plooble started dropping off those blogrolls, and understandably so. Who wants to direct someone to a blog with a year-old post at the top?
After a few years hiatus, I’ve revivified this blog, even if I’m not quite sure what to do with it. I’m struck by how much blogging has changed since 2003. For one thing, quite a few people who started blogging when I did kept it up, and as a result some of them are making a living at it. That never occurred to me. Or I should say that it did, but I had no concept of how that would actually happen. I remember a friend at the time saying, no doubt in an email or possibly an IM: “blog + PayPal = $.” I didn’t quite know what she meant by that.
The biggest change is that blogs have become a new form of journalism, whereas a scant five years ago they were, depending on your perspective, personal journals shared with friends or outlets for poorly-punctuated self-indulgent whining.
This change is so profound that Paul Boutin, writing in Wired, has declared blogs dead and advised all bloggers to pull the plug and move to Twitter. Obviously he’s not the first writer to try to attract attention by proclaiming the death of a popular trend. But in this case I think he’s completely wrong. It makes no more sense to say that blogs are dead than it does to say that television is dead. Yes, broadcast TV is going through tremendous changes and being challenged by YouTube and Hulu and Netflix and the thing that just got created while I was typing that list, but how many times in the last few weeks have you seen or heard someone talking about Tina Fey’s portrayals of Sarah Palin? What’s important is that NBC is creating content people want to see. The medium in which they want to see it is secondary.
In 2003, when you said you were a blogger, it had meaning. It said you were among a smallish group of people who had embraced a new technology and were using it to tell people something, probably something about yourself. Or maybe your cat. These days saying you’re a blogger doesn’t carry any more meaning than saying you’re an emailer.
But that doesn’t mean blogging is dead. It means that the tools, technology and techniques pioneered by a few have spread to many, who are using them to do any number of things that have little or no correlation other than the medium. Far from making blogging dead, it makes it more vital than ever, even as the concept of being a “blogger” comes to mean almost nothing at all.
I will happily admit that I now use Twitter and Facebook to communicate with friends in more or less the same way I used to use this blog. And I do it far more often because it takes so little time and I don’t feel pressured to create a magnum opus every time.
On the other hand, I would have had a hard time saying all of this in 140 characters.