Observations on Blogging in 2011
Yep, I'd say the rise of Facebook has pretty much put the kybosh on blogging being a smoothly functioning social networking tool. 2008 is to blame (or to be thanked, depending).
The social blogging that once had schools-kids frenetically clacking away on their MacBooks in Starbucks to update their blogs has disappeared (at least from Singapore). Instead these kids are clacking away on their MacBooks in Starbucks, not on blogs, but on Facebook or Twitter, updating status and location, uploading pictures of lunch, group gossiping in quasi-real-time. People are on their phones tapping away for the same thrill of communication and response. They are not writing their next blog post (or novel) on the train. Neither are they reading any blogs there. They are networking, txt-ing, watching movies, they are playing games, things that blogs can't do.
The feedback was never that fast on blogs , the gratification was delayed, and that won't work anymore in this nano-second late is too late age.
The sex-bloggers have all signed book-deals or got married (or are playing D&D type games all day like former SPG, Izzy).
Fortunately I had met many (OK most) of my first batch of Singapore friends through blogging well before that cut-off date. The ones who I see most are Platypus/IndianaJones, Mercer Machine (not as much as I'd like, barring D&D games) and Izzy (well, she was my - platonic! - flatmate for over a year - was it two years?). There are some other local bloggers I have met at things like the first Singapore Blogger Piss-up at Brewerkz (God when was that?), then mr miyagi and mr brown helped organize the BloggerCon in 2005 (got my photo in the paper for that - was considered the oldest there, at 48, and "could have been the father of most of the bloggers here". Yes it was a young person's game.)
After I met Mercer Machine (not quite a potential son) there, he called for the occasional SExBB nights (Singapore Expat Bloggers' Beers). Initially it was just he and I or maybe Indy who turned up - the Expat blogging community in Singapore was not so big, nor very social at that time as I commented when handed a microphone at the Blogger-con.
One or two pretty local girls were game enough to show up at the SeXBB and risk their life, limb, sobriety and/or virginity with such a rowdy bunch... I do see Valkyrie, (from one of the SExB nights), she of the dragon tattoos, at the above mentioned D&D nights. With Izzy living in Holland now, and me being less than enthralled by the whole schtick, my D&D days have fallen away...
Since 2008 I don't think there have been any people in Singapore I have met through my, or their, blog.
I do maintain a modicum of extra-blogspot contact with a few pre-2008 overseas bloggers. I had beers in Bangkok with Dick Headley about 6 month ago. Skippy-San is always up for beers when he's in Singapore. I catch up with Spike in HK most times I am there. Beers. Though we have not met, I do have Savannah's hotel recommendation for a few currently un-visitable North Africa countries - she is more of a red wine person I gather (Sav, you would have loved the 2004 Burton of Coonawarra Cab Sav the other night!) . And I have a beer or four with Scott (frequent commenter) when I am in Melbourne.
Are people still trawling for new blogs? Do they want another semi-anonymous pen-pals? Do people have enough time to read the entire internet even though, as the Fraternity of Infinite Monkeys which I have battling since 2004 moves to a lower Aleph of infinity, the universe of blogs is shrinking. According to Technorati's 2010 report, the line is blurring between blogging and social networking. I think that is false confidence, a little bit of self-delusion. They don't mention whether the ACTIVE blog community is shrinking or growing.
They do make the point of the rising phenomenon of mum blogging. Immensely popular public diaries of women bringing up kids, doing the dishes, battling for recognition at work, trying to find an acceptable compromise for their family/work balance. These are essentially novelizations of a life-in-progress, autobiographies on the fly. I read about one somewhere. (NYT?) Mainly read by other women? I would think so. (The woman in the article was getting thousands of dollars through her advertising! [see below] So it does work!)
Back to socialising. I meet people in different ways now. A couple of junk trips* organized by a part-time blogger with big tits (a friend of Indy, duh) widened my social circle again. Several of the people I met there now admit to knowing me still, and they permit me to sit at their table if I buy them a beer or two.
(*Junk Trip - an social phenomenon in the tropics whereby, usually, a "chinese style" flat-bottomed, motorised boat, (not the one last traditional junk with the pig's blood coloured sails - IKYN), with a rooftop lounge area and deep fridges is hired to take expats and people interested in expats to places where watery sports are encouraged (except for the people who look at the crap floating in the water), and to deliver drunken, sunburnt versions of the same people - and hopefully, the same number of same - back to the marina or jetty, safely. After which they all come back to E@L-GHQ and trash the place. In Hong Kong, try getting on or off one at Queen's pier - the rollicking junk is dancing and bouncing frighteningly in the reinforced waves reflecting from the reclaimed-land lined with straight walls of what's left of Victoria Harbour. Singapore is a cake-walk, you get on at a calm marina.) /end *)
Point being, these events are, and perhaps only could be, organized on Facebook. Or, OK, by complex txt-ing, I guess.
Create Event, send out invitations to your FB-ers, await RSVP.
Try and do that on a blog these days. No-one is going to turn up. No-one you know has read your blog in the past two weeks.
I only blog now once a week or so (no wonder no-one reads it) - partly because the the steam is let out of the kettle with a cloud of twitter-like status updates on FB that must drive my friends crazy. And because I am on MY blog so infrequently, I end up visiting other blogs less frequently as well. And those other people blog less as well (except the specific audience-targetted blogs - like for writing or for SciFi nutters or for other hobbyists). It's a vicious circle that has killed that must-read-fervor of the mid-to-late noughties.
Also, as I am hanging with a bunch of wannabe alcoholics my, I suppose you could call it *social* life, has gone through the roof - and landed ker-splat into the gutter as I slump from the taxi, vomiting copiously onto the potted plants like any good stereotypical expat. (Favorite joke: Girl says: "Get your mind out of the gutter!" Man says: "I can't, it's attached to my body.") I often have no time to write long posts - the ones that satisfy *me*, the ones *I* enjoy writing - and so I FB a brain-fart myself every so often.
Bloggers target the wider audience of the WWW, not your Dunbar's Number^3 of FB acquaintances.
It's a much bigger audience that blogs address and attempt to make some form of contact with, everyone in the world. Of course as many have done (Mercer Machine for one), you could link your blogs posts to Twitter and Facebook in order to draw readers. But these are already your friends and friends of friends, hardly the billions of un-entertained non-readers out there.
Who/what are left but the prolix ranters, (like myself, for whom Facebook's 450 characters are often not enough for me to finish my first sentence, let alone attempt the over-sharing brain-farts of Twitter - I have an account but I never use it), the serious social-commentary blogs, the intellectual observation blogs, the blogs from writers who are honing their skills (like Mercer Machine), the blogs with lots of funny or provocative pictures, the blogs where you can say things that you don't want your FB friends or your parents to read, the journalist's blogs where unedited articles can survive, the newspaper controversy blogs designed to stimulate hits to the paper (for REAL advertising revenue, not Google Ad's paltry token pennies [see above re: mom blogging), and blogs that only your enemies read.
I can't be sure, but the days of anxiously checking stats each day have passed. The days of making money from Google Ads have passed. The days of gaining credits from Amazon's referral points are gone.
And they days of leaving cardboard boxes of rants and story ideas and novel commencements are gone. Everything, like David Foster Wallace's posthumous new novel, are scattered around instead on the blog, in lost or abandoned external HDDs, on various laptops you have (6 computers for me now).
Or the text resides in the clouds. I am writing this on a MacAir in the office, using Evernote. When I get home, it will be on desktop computer. I could modify it on my Galaxy S on the way home if I wanted to (I am the one person on the train writing a blog), or on an iPad if I had one.
Points of all points: I am writing less on my blog. Fewer people are reading my blog (do I care?). I am reading fewer blogs. I am not looking for new blogs, though I am glad when I find a worthy one. Social blogs are dead in the virtual water thanks to all this social networking. Writing on blogs is a private thing, requiring time and space. You will not meet new friends through your blog.
Blogging is so 2008 maybe, but for many of us, expressing ourselves is not about fashion. It's a need, a passion, a compulsion beyond. And so blogs have evolved. Well not really *evolved* so much as become smarter, better, more attenuated, according to the alcohol-kills-bad-brain-cells concept (however flawed).
Yes, only the select few million remain, those who have failed to be distracted and completely fallen by the wayside of short-term, near-instant feedback, quasi conversational, brief communication after all.
We are often older and wiser (or not), we are the proven survivors. And we like to waffle on.
p.s. I am sorry I haven't put in all the relevant links in at this point, MM was sort of pressuring me to get this out ASAP. Maybe he'll let me come back and do that.