Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Blog Belongs to Yesterday

"The blog belongs to yesterday, I wanted to tell him."-- Zoo Time by Howard Jacobson
The blog belongs to yesterday.  began to think this even before I read Zoo Time

After a dizzying spell of scribbling  rough journal entries at my blog for six years, I have begun to wonder what I am doing. 

Other bloggers are also wondering, not what I am doing, but what they are doing, or perhaps not what they are doing, but why the comments at their blogs are dwindling.  Since the early autumn, there has been a whine-fest in the blogosphere about the decline of comments on blogs. 

Those with moxie claim their traffic is up, though comments are down.  And if you believe that, you’re a journalist.

I say that to tease the journalists, who have blamed social media for ruining literary criticism. And I also like to tease my fellow bloggers, who perhaps take these numbers too seriously.

Nothing on the internet lasts.  There is always the next new thing.  Blogs, according to a rather vague article in Wikipedia, started in the late ‘90s. But “social media” have been around for longer.  A friend told me that in the ‘80s he was busy with an online community (sorry, I don’t know the name of it).  At AOL in the ‘90s, books were discussed on “bulletin boards” until the AOL site Book Central shut down.  Then the book communities dwindled.  And of course there are discussion groups at Google, Yahoo, etc., but the number of posts there is dwindling, too.

People have moved on to whatever they move on to:  Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblir, etc.

For whom are we blogging?  Numbers, or readers?  The access to statistics on readership at our blogs is a surveillance feature.  It reveals that my most popular post ever was about the actress Elizabeth Taylor...and why do I need to know that?  Am I a corporation frantically trying to sell the most popular post?  Or am I writing about books?

Blogging has changed my style of reading.  I have five or six books going at a time now, instead of one or two, as though I am a book editor deciding what to read, or  can’t bear the boredom of reading one. I want to be bored again.  

In the ‘90s, when I posted on book boards instead of at (or whatever you might call my blog),  I talked with intelligent people about classics and excellent literary fiction.  Since I began blogging in 2006,  my reading has taken a downward trend.  I still read classics and literary fiction, but why would I ever bother with Celia by E. H. Young (a middlebrow novel by an extremely unimportant writer) or Maidenhead by Faith Berger (basically a porn book selection at the innovative online book club Emily Books)?  Yes, I learned about these books online.

Blogs are fun, but we click from one to another to another and learn about more books than we can ever read.  I need to slow down. 

So I don’t know what the future is.  The other day I was reading dovegreyreader scribbles and Kevin from Canada, and I wondered, hm, will they still be doing this in a couple of years? 

As for myself, I plan to keep blogging but to write shorter posts.  I plan to be bored. 

We’ll see how it works out.


Belle said...

I began my blog on January 1, 2012. I had been reading quite a few book blogs before that, honed them down to about ten that really connected with the books I enjoy reading, and decided that instead of looking at what others were reading I would write about my own book experiences.

I don't get much traffic or many comments but I enjoy the discipline of writing something every day that has to do with reading and books. It amazes me that a topic always comes to mind.

Through bloggers, I have been introduced to many books and authors that I would perhaps never have heard of (it was you who introduced my to Gladys Taber) and this year I have read more than twice as many books as I did in 2011.

But when I look back over my list from this year, I see that there are books that I barely remember reading.

I have had the same thought as you: Slow Down.

I plan to keep on blogging but will perhaps pause now and then for breath.

Frisbee said...

Bellle, what you say applies to me, too. It is enjoyable to have a place to write. Our blog pages look nice, don't you think?

I also love reading blogs.

No, few people comment here, either. And I have gone through stages where I've had a "No Comment" blog (that when I couldn't think of anything to say on my own comments page), back to moderated comments.

I think it's easier to discuss on a listserv than it is in blog comments.

Silver Threads said...

I started my blog over two years ago, transferring in some comments I had posted at another site. Since then traffic built, but has been pretty steady the last year. Yes, comments are down.

I not only enjoy reading blogs -- must remember to comment more -- but also have "met" fellow bloggers, resulting in interesting exchanges.

The discipline of reading in order to write (among other purposes) has sharpened my observations.

Frisbee said...

For me none of this is really about traffic or comments. We like to write, and a blog is an outlet. I have sensed burnout among some excellent longtime bloggers, and they deal with it differently, sometimes taking time off, sometimes writing about different things. Certainly I am questioning my own direction.

If there are fewer comments, and I have noticed that with surprise at some of the best and most popular blogs, that logically means people are commenting somewhere else. If there's one thing we know about the internet, it's that people like to express themselves!

gina in al said...

I would like to read more about the classics on your blog. I read this blog every 2 days or so but I do not comment because 1)I fear getting into a confrontation with other commenters or the blog owner 2)I really do not think what I have to say is so interesting that it needs to be broadcast to the world 3)what's wrong with a person keeping their opinions private? I fear I am a child of another time.

Frisbee said...

Heavens, Gina, thanks for the comment, but you don't have to comment if you don't feel like it! I'm in a vacation-from-blogging mode and don't know what I'll do here next. Blog, not blog--tweet, not tweet--who knows?:)