Warren Ellis, citing Justin Tadlock, is right that a personal website doesn’t have to be a blog (especially true given that personal websites pre-date blogging), and while initially I was going to circle back to something I wrote before about people trying to redefine what a blog is (e.g. doing something not reverse-chronological but still for some reason wanting to call it a blog), I got to reading Tadlock’s post and instead I have a whole other tantrum to throw.
“The idea of a ‘blog’ needs to get over itself,” wrote Joel Hooks in a post titled Stop Giving af and Start Writing More. “Everybody is treating writing as a ‘content marketing strategy’ and using it to ‘build a personal brand’ which leads to the fundamental flawed idea that everything you post has to be polished to perfection and ready to be consumed.”
What I hate here, and I think I’ve hated on it here before, is that you can’t blame “the blog” for this — you have to blame the bloggers who malformed blogging into “content marketing strategy”. That’s not the blog’s fault; you can’t blame the form. You only can blame its practitioners.
(It turns out that, yes, I’ve brushed up against these sorts of issues before here.)
If anyone needs to get over themselves it’s the people who are flailing about what blogging became (especially if they do so as if they themselves weren’t part of how it became that; I don’t know Joel Hooks, so I can’t claim that of him) and trying to impress people anew by going, “Hey, look, what I’m doing now isn’t blogging; I’ve left that plebeian shit behind me.”
It makes perfect sense to describe why your approach works for you, especially if it might let someone else break themselves out of whatever limitations they’ve trapped themselves in — and Hooks does this — but we can do it without walking up to the line of chiding other people for just, you know, blogging.
(I feel like I’m sweeping Tadlock up into this particular criticism, which is not my intent. In fact, his observations about how WordPress itself, as a platform, in many ways is responsible for leading people to try to jam anything and everything superficially into the form and format of a blog, which only contributed to the content-marketization of blogging, is a point worth taking.)
For what it’s worth, I’ve had both long and short bouts of blogging, going back to the early days, I think because I just can’t cognitively organize information in any other way, and I like the idea that the (reverse-) chronological flow of things tells a story about what I’ve thought and felt over time, and how some things stayed steady while other things changed and evolved (or, potentially, devolved).
Me, I could never tend a digital garden, and I think something is lost when you organize information that way. But, that’s okay, because other things probably are gained.
Absolutely none of which is to argue against defining new ways to personal web, or rediscover old ones. It’s just to say that there probably are less rankling ways to go about it.
On the overall premise — personal websites should take myriad forms, and maybe there should even be tools to foster and enable this — I’d think most people agree. I just think we can do better by way of explication than, “Fuck blogs.”