Blogging's Dimming Past Future

21 Aug 2022

As part of a larger effort of getting rid of things I don’t need, which includes materials and links and notes that I have stashed all over my computer’s hard drive, I am spending Saturday night going through Safari’s Reading List. What’s worth keeping, I am saving to Pocket, and then I am deleting the rest.

Along the way, I came across Ben Thompson’s “Blogging’s Bright Future from 2 February 2015. The essay begins with what was then breaking news, that many pundits nee bloggers were lamenting the demise of the blog. Thompson’s analysis is smart as always, and he observes that many are lamenting the demise of the single blogger as blogs sought to get bigger and deliver more readers to advertisers. Thompson’s model would be the one that eventually was adopted to others and led to the rise of SubStack and Matter, among others.

There’s plenty to discuss there, but what I was struck by was the following passage:

The truth, though, is that blogging has evolved. It is absolutely true that the old Sullivan-style – tens of posts a day, mostly excerpts and links, with regular essays in immediate response to ongoing news – is mostly over.

What I liked about my blog, this blog, when I first started it was how it was simply that, a web log, a place where I kept notes that were also public, so if someone asked me something and I had already written about it, I could simply point them to the blog.

And then the blog got attention, and people were looking at it, and it was getting linked to by Ivy League libraries and national research centers, and I got too nervous to post all the things that in fact made the blog a blog for me.

And along the way WordPress went from being blogging software to a publishing platform.

And all the fun went out of it, and all the utility, too.

Chunks of what people describe as this second brain phenomenon strike me as what the blog, my blog, used to be. I don’t know if this will ever get back to that. There are some downsides to keeping things in public, but it does make me wonder about simply creating an internal blog.

You can go back to the logbook or dive into the archive. Choose your own adventure!