Until weekend, I’d never seen this Nora Ephron take on blogging, for Huffington Post from the blogging heyday of the mid-2000s (via Adam Wood). Its prompt was the suggestion that you could discount celebrity bloggers because they already have a voice elsewhere.
It reminded me that recently I’d come across the early-2000s dust-up over whether or not there was a blogging “A-list”, which mostly amounted to denials from A-listers that such a thing existed, evidence that of course it did, and folks like Anil Dash calling it “bitching […] because their sites get fewer hits”.
Ephron is writing after that era by a few years, by which time we’d been through 9/11 and the “war blogging” era which itself spawned the real era of political blogs. No one really much cared anymore about concerns over the blogosphere dominance of tech/founder bloggers.
And one of the most delicious things about the profoundly parasitical world of blogs is that you don’t have to have anything much to say. Or you just have to have a little tiny thing to say. You just might want to say hello. I’m here. And by the way. On the other hand. Nevertheless. Did you see this? Whatever. A blog is sort of like an exhale. What you hope is that whatever you’re saying is true for about as long as you’re saying it. Even if it’s not much.
This, of course, was true at the beginning, true in the heyday, true in the doldrums after the advent of social media, and still true today, although I’m not so sure I agree with that last bit.
As my blog restoration project slowly rolls out over the course of (at least) this year, I’m sure there will be plenty that now embarrasses, if only because in the period prior to the arrival of Twitter we “microblogged” on our own blogs when really maybe much of that sort of thing always should have been ephemeral, like Ephron’s exhale.
There’s other stuff in my twenty years’ worth of stuff, though, that I’ll be glad to have back online. There’s stuff I said in the early 2000s, and stuff I said in the mid-2000s, and stuff I said in the mid-2010s that remains true.
Blogging can be an exhale, but it also can be anything up to and including a barbaric yawp.
All of it, though—all of it—sits upon a foundation of, “I’m here.” Every single post, be it microblog or otherwise.
That’s, really, what criticism of celebrity bloggers in the mid-to-late 2000s and A-listers in the early 2000s was about. We already knew all of those people were here. The rest of us wanted to be here, too.
Joe Clark was right: some of the A-listers were good “but so is the commentary written by literally a dozen other bloggers I read, none of whom can create a miniature Slashdot effect by mentioning you”. Nora Ephron is a celebrated writer but it didn’t automatically make her more worth someone’s attention as a blogger; mostly it just meant more mainstream clicks and views and monetization for Huffington Post.
Of course, we were here, anyway, in whatever ways we could muster. Most bloggers, I think, tended to find their crew. Many of them in the mid-2000s not only blogged alone but blogged together; it was the era of the group blog.
Even alone, though, the point wasn’t to grab the widest audience, per se, while envying those that had it. The point was to be here, and to say that we were, but the frustration that sometimes you did have better things to say than those with the audience, and said them better than they did was real anyway. Bloggers not of the early A-list or the later celebrity varieties worried that new media were aping in their own way the attentional-class system of old media, despite so many more of us technically having access to it.
Celebrity ultimately went the social media route, along with most of the rest of us. I’m not entirely sure they’ll follow us back to blogging. We’re pretty well past the point of there being a blogosphere A-list. There’s not really a monolithic blogosphere anymore, anyway. (It was real, once, I swear.)
I’m not fighting ghosts.
Ephron’s post about celebrity and blogging just happened to pop up for me not long after the posts about early blogging A-listers, and as someone who was around at the time—and had managed entirely to forget about the A-list thing—they seemed well-paired.
I’ve blogged alone, in groups with authors and readers of books about the internet, in small fandom niches, on the somewhat larger stage of local stand-alone journalism, and on sites and at domains that lasted for a month and those that lasted for years. In the end, all of this blogging has with all other blogging one thing in common.
Like anyone who blogs, or has, I do so both to aver and to confirm that I am, in fact, here.
I am here. So are you. Where we should be.