Colin Walker recently linked two things that resonate with me right now, given my potential plans for this latest iteration of the blog. First is Dave Winer’s succinct explanation for why people stopped blogging; second is Poorchop’s wonderings about why people blog.
Dave’s contention that people stopped blogging because social media was where the people were mostly rings true, and while I blogged intermittently, although often for specific fandom-related projects, in the decade from 2008 and 2018, there’s a fair chunk of my prior blogging which in fact was the microblogging which Twitter came to subsume and replace. I’d occasionally erupt in bursts of longer-form blogging, but nothing like the consistency with which I blogged from around 1999 until the mid-2000s.
I’m in part getting into this now, through Dave’s prompt, because my prospective goal for 2023 is to bring as much of my blogging as I can still find in importable or convertible formats into Bix Dot Blog; I know for a fact that I’ve got ready access to a bunch of blogging from around 1999 or so, and much more between then and now. It’s a lot of posts.
When I say a lot, I’m thinking, too, of the fact that there’s a year or so of blogging around 2019 that I was doing through Micro.blog and that, naturally, involved both longer-form posts and microblogging. Just getting 2018 through early 2021 back online is going to amount to somewhere around 3,500 posts.
I haven’t yet done any kind of estimate on how much material will be in my earlier blogging, but one point of reference is that blog I started on September 11, 2001, which very much was in the microblogging format and which involved multiple updates nearly every day for three months. I think it clocks in at around 600 posts right there.
Poorchop, for their part, to some degree questions the deliberate act of blogging even as they enagage in it.
However, I can’t shake the feeling that something feels wrong about the weblog format. There’s almost an inherent narcissism in thinking that anyone should care enough to read one’s fleeting thoughts. To share unsolicited personal details seems inappropriate and I imagine that it would only invite trouble in the long term. The strongest and most admirable of our predecessors conveyed a sense of fortitude partly through keeping their personal lives private.
Here’s the thing, though, about blogging as opposed, say, to social media: bloggers almost always are writing because they can’t not; there’s something stuck in their craw by which they would be better served were it in the open rather than trapped inside their head. Social media, in contrast, constantly demands to be fed either by attention or production, regardless of the merits or even in the absence of a legitiamte internal need.
Which is all rather a longwinded way of saying that I don’t consider blogging at all “unsolicited” in any meaningful sense. We solicit from ourselves, and the world either cares to bear witness or it doesn’t.
There unquestionably is some indeterminate amount of “personal detail” in the blogging I’m looking at bringing back online. It is not my intent to vet any of it beforehand; it’s either coming back or it isn’t. I’m sure some amount of it will prove embarassing.
However, just as people blog because of that internal self-solicitation, I’ve grown somewhat uncomfortable with the fact that the vast bulk of my earlier blogging went down the memory hole (notwithstanding some of it being accessible via the Wayback Machine), especially when so many other people who blogged in the early days never really stopped—including my mother, who’s been going strong since the early 2000s. Lately there’s been a quietly percolating internal self-solicitation to resurface my past.
In linking Poorchop, Colin suggests that blogs “allow their authors to explore thoughts and ideas in more meaningful and, perhaps more importantly, more permanent ways”. I’m not sure it always needs to be permanent (not that Colin is saying this), but I do think my own blogging became a bit too ephemeral.
If my inevitable pangs of anxiety as I rummage through the written detritus of my own past selves can withstand the process, 2023 will be the years of Bix Dot Blog.