Thursday, December 3, 2009

Things are a'changin'

My recent posting on Twitter came about because of an email exchange I recently had. I have an idea for something that I think might be a worthwhile J-blogger-wide effort in the near future. I emailed a few bloggers who have been blogging for far longer than I have to get their feedback. One blogger, truly involved in the blogging world for quite some time, said he thought it was a good idea. As to whether or not he felt the J-bloggers would support the idea actively, he was not so sure. He said that a year ago he would have had no problem saying the J-bloggers would be active and join in. Why not now? The proliferation of Facebook and Twitter, which has had an affect on blogging in general.

Bloggers, just like "real" people, have things that go on in their lives which may change the amount of time they have available for blogging. You all know of blogs that were here, and now aren't here. There are bloggers whose output has slowed down. Yes, there are still new bloggers coming on the scene, but with nowhere near the frequency they did in the past. Why? I don't think that saying that Facebook and Twitter are around is the complete answer.

One reason is simple: effort. Most, in fact almost all, blogs have postings that run from fairly short to really long. In general, a blog posting runs longer than 140 characters--the limit on a Twitter posting. {The sentences you just read in this paragraph up to but not including this sentence equal 207 characters--67 more than is allowed on Twitter.} It takes some time and effort to come up with something you feel is worthwhile to share with others who come to read your blog. Even when you are just "talking to yourself" on your blog, you're looking for more than a cursory skimming from others.

Another reason is choice. Before blogs proliferated you really had few choices to "speak" to people and to "hear" what was going on. There were some regular sites online and there was, of course, email. And there was instant messaging for those who needed instant gratification. Well, now the number and type of social networking sites online have grown. It's not just Facebook and Twitter either [and let's not forget about the ubiquitous texting]. Some of you may have heard of or belong to Geni--there are others as well. With all this choice available and a limited amount of time--and patience--people are choosing the "less time consuming" options out there. They are seeing blogs as less about social networking and more about "work." It takes time to read a post, and it may not be one that you agree with or that makes you happy. You post a comment, but a response to that comment might take hours to appear, if it does.

And then there is this--blogs are not, at heart, about socialization but about substance. They may have regular readers who exchange opinions with each other and with the blogger. But they are discussing content. Blogs are a strange mix of impersonal and personal. A blogger may share personal information with the readers. This information may or may not get commented on. But I have yet to read a blog (okay, I haven't read every blog out there, but this applies to all the ones I have read) whose total substance boils down to a calendar of what the blogger is doing from second to second with daily acts of functioning.

Thankfully, all of us who are still blogging also still have readers. There are still people out there who consider that reading is not too difficult a thing to do, that reading more than 140 characters is not too taxing for the intellect. I'll surmise that a lot of those who left blogging (not all of them obviously) or who no longer go and read blogs weren't "real" blog aficionados to begin with--they were just interested in the newest phenomenon. When something else popped up that was the latest in thing they flitted off. Or maybe they really weren't looking for what blogs offer and were looking for a place to just drop in and say "Hi!"

Me? I'm sticking to blogging. It's a forum I enjoy writing for and I enjoy the comments when they come. So tell me, why do you blog or read blogs? What do you get from the activity? Why are you still reading what we bloggers produce?


NonymousG said...

I blog as it is the most convenient medium to share Divrei Torah with which has a suitable "filing" system that ensures the Divrei Torah survive although my being able to post every week might not. It helps that the J-blogs are all in cahoots, and for the most part, all have been helpful in helping me "get in there".

Leahle said...

Socializing is what I do in person with my friends or on the phone where I can hear them. The blogs I look at like they are magazines that I don't have to wait a whole month for a new one to come out. Sometimes I get info and sometimes I get entertained and sometimes I get upset about some stupid thing that is getting done. But since there's still lots of blogs what I don't get is bored.

Anonymous said...

Keep up the blogging, ProfK - its a far more intellectual pursuit than the others!

Ari said...

It's a paradise for those who appreciate erudition, and for those who are looking for someone who shares the same micro-niche interests, and sometimes, to live vicariously. The Internet has enabled people sharing previously obscure hobbies and interests to connect.

In terms of its immediacy and conversational dynamics, it's a cut above email, newspaper article and Facebook. It's a chance to interact with "favorite" magazine columnists and fellow readers.

My charitable take on Twitter: It's is ore like a faddish CB Radio channel for dedicated groupies who share highly specific or exotic or time-sensitive interests, but probably not a mainstream tool. (yet)

Anonymously said...

I agree with Ari that blogging is a more 'intelligent' activity then facebook or twitter or email. There's some real conversation that can go on instead of little tiny sound bites. A lot of blogging is about ideas and problems and solutions. And there's a real practical element to it also. I've gotten dozen of hints and ideas from the blogs about how to improve my way of doing certain things.

Owe you a TY Prof for one of those ideas. We just finished making a wedding and I used some of the things I found here about where to go for wedding clothes and not get rooked.

Tuvi said...

I like the exchange of ideas that can happen on a blog among lots of different people from different places and different age groups. I may not always agree with the ideas but I always find it interesting to see what people use as proof to support their points. And I see blogs as a place I can pick up good information that's useful in my life. I've tried twitter and it's not for me--no substance there and nothing to get excited about.

Mikeinmidwood said...

I originally Blogged because I needed a hobby then it developed and now I blog because I like to see my words on a screen knowing people will either get a laugh at or take an understanding to what I am writing.