Pardon me while I rant a little:
So I read this article the other day: http://news.yahoo.com/the-facebook-crash–is-social-media-going-the-way-of-blogging—remember-blogging–.html;_ylt=A2KLOzGObc1PbBAA_OnQtDMD For some reason, it stuck in my head, much like an annoying pebble caught inside of a shoe. Don’t get me wrong, this article doesn’t strike me as a particularly well-written piece. Frankly, it doesn’t even seem as if all that much thought went into it. But it stuck with me and made me think.
This article seems to highlight the huge yawning gap between how people are actually using technology and how more traditional formats are wrestling with processing those changes. It’s like there are people who are really struggling to try to make rules for how things should operate in the digital world. They can’t admit that they have no idea what’s going to happen. What’s going to happen with Facebook now that it has gone public? Who knows? There’s not anything great to compare it to. A free service with millions of users around the globe that has left everyone grappling to figure out where, how, and even if it should fit into their lives? One with remarkable market saturation that still leaves its users wondering what the new etiquette for it should be, one that challenges traditional concepts of privacy, one that blurs public and private spheres, and challenges traditional notions of friendship?
And then there are the even bigger questions of how the ability to exchange ideas and information with ease and without the moderation of traditional technologies, powers, and formats is changing the world. What kind of impact will that ability have on the future? You don’t have to write a letter to the editor and hope that it gets published to share your views. You don’t have to hope that the content of your letter to the editor won’t get edited into a parody of your original message should it actually get published. You can publish it yourself, to a potentially global audience. Now, will a post on an individual blog garner the same attention as something published in traditional media? Maybe not, but these are still potentially seismic shifts. I don’t think it’s hyperbolic to say that these are game-changing times. And the new rule book hasn’t been written yet. We don’t know the outcomes yet.
This certainly isn’t the only article I’ve seen where the writer declares blogging dead or irrelevant. Sounds a bit like sour grapes. And so often those kinds of statements leave me feeling like instead of illuminating something about these changes, I just see the writers frustrated by their struggles to make sense of a lively, fluid landscape, one with a constantly changing topography. Instead of wonder and humility, there is bluster and ego. The digital world isn’t behaving like they think it should, so they ignore inconvenient things like facts and try to just declare that they have answers when they don’t. How else to explain the absurd, snotty question “remember blogging?” from this article? As if blogging is suddenly now as quaint and arcane as an 8-track player. I was poking around, trying to find numbers on how many blogs there are out there. How many? It’s hard to find a solid number because there are just so many of them.(Although I did find interesting information about how businesses are really striving to figure out how to use bloggers to sell stuff.) Sure, some bloggers active 2 years ago aren’t blogging any longer. But we’re still talking about millions of blogs, millions of bloggers.
I haven’t personally been blogging all that long, but I’ve been following blogs for years. I read rather a lot of them. I find something really beautiful and profound about being able to share, in some tiny way, the lives of people very different from myself. The adventures of a young Swedish student spending a year abroad in Paris, or a Japanese retiree pondering worsening Alzheimer’s, or any number of other interesting worlds that I’ve been privileged enough to get a glimpse into through people’s blogs. It expands my world, and often makes me challenge my perceptions and assumptions. And it thrills me that people in 42 countries other than my own have peeked into my miniscule pocket of the globe through my blog. And I wonder, long-term, what sort of potential for peace might the ability to share our humanity with each other in these small ways bring?
Call me a cock-eyed optimist, but blogging isn’t dead. I don’t even think we’ve come close to seeing its full potential yet.