Sunday, May 05, 2013

To Blog Or Not To Blog Redux

Marc Tracy's eulogy for the blog appeared in a recent (April 30th) post to this blog. Today, this blog provides a rejoinder to Tracy. As the rejoining Alyssa Rosenberg points out, blogs have evolved and one evolutionary form is the cross-post as shown in all of the posts to this blog as [x Source]. Cross-posting enables an article or essay to ..."live both on an author’s individual page, or in the feed on a relevent subject or for a relevant section." Google will find it by author's name or a key-word. Like Reserve Rooms this blogger has known in his bedraggled past, the Reserve Room is somewhere in the Library and it contains books and articles that professors have asked the Library to set aside for their students to supplement textbooks and the like. So it is that this blog is not a Johnny-One-Note (on a single topic) nor is it the blogger's stream-of-consciousness. Bloggers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your tedium. If this is (fair & balanced) self-justification, so be it.

[x ThinkProgress]
Blogs Aren’t Dead. They Won, And Now They’re Evolving
By Alyssa Rosenberg

Tag Cloud of the following article

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In a provocative piece at The New Republic, Marc Tracy traces the rise and decline of the blog, a form that has essentially conquered the distribution of information online, but whose ubiquity has made individual personalities less important:

When he started a blog, it was on his own—other than a small handful of strange, Web-only creatures, in 2001, what magazine wanted a blog? By 2005, the answer to that question had changed, allowing Sullivan to ensconce his blog in larger institutions—Time, The Atlantic, and The Daily Beast, in chronological order. This was the golden age of the personal blog: The Internet had empowered a few strong writers to create their own brand (if you were idiosyncratic—say, if you were gay, English, Catholic, and heretically conservative—then all the better) and a few strong big brands to create their own small brands (Media Decoder was launched in 2009, and finds its roots in TV Decoder, a blog that was started when the Times poached writer Brian Stelter, who like Sullivan, Klein, et. al had built a following on the Internet as a personal brand). Meanwhile, readers interested in reading the best that had been thought and said on the Internet had no choice except to follow along—the best they could do was to use RSS to focus on the feeds they tended to find interesting.

But today, Google Reader is dying, Media Decoder is dead, and Andrew Sullivan’s The Daily Dish is alive in new form. This year, Sullivan decided that he was a big enough brand, commanding enough attention and traffic, to strike out on his own. At the beginning of the last decade, the institutions didn’t need him. Today, he feels his best chance for survival is by becoming one of the institutions, complete with a staff and a variety of content. What wasn’t going to work was continuing to have, merely, a blog.

What Tracy really means, he clarifies, is that “What we are losing is the personal blog and the themed blog. Less and less do readers have the patience for a certain writer or even certain subject matter.” Obviously, it’s true that the first-mover advantage for blogging is gone, and that fewer people are coming on line as individual bloggers. When I started working at ThinkProgress two years ago, it was already evident that this was a way that fewer and fewer people were getting full-time writing jobs. And what was even clearer was that publications like The Atlantic and the Daily Beast that were hiring lots of individual bloggers were doing so as a way to populate channels. The key technology now is less the publishing platforms that let people write short posts and publish them in a continuous stream, and more the ability to cross-post, so a piece can live both on an author’s individual page, or in the feed on a relevent subject or for a relevant section.

Or as Michael S. Rosenwald, who wrote a blog for the Washington Post called Rosenwald, Md., put it: “We’ve been rethinking blogs here at the Post. Many of us bloggers are moving over to personality pages. In one place, you’ll be able to find all my stories for various sections of the paper (Page One, Metro, Outlook, Sunday Business) as well blog posts about life in Maryland and the rest of the region. Click here for the link to my personality page, which you can bookmark for easy access.”

And I think this is a situation that signals less the decline of blogs than their evolution. Readers can continue to follow the feeds of individual writers they prefer, or whole sections that they find interesting, depending on whether they’re interested in a particular perspective or a larger news feed. If blogging started out as a way to accomodate the way writers wanted to publish their work, it’s now come to serve a different end in giving readers flexibility in how they curate what they want to read, and publications the ability to accomodate them. That’s not death, precisely. It’s more like metamorphosis. Ω

[Alyssa Rosenberg is a culture reporter for ThinkProgress. Rosenberg is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for Slate. She holds a B.A. in humanities from Yale University. Before joining ThinkProgress, she was editor of Washingtonian and a staff correspondent at Government Executive. Her work has appeared in Esquire, The Daily, The American Prospect, The New Republic, National Journal, and The Daily Beast.]

Copyright © 2013 Center for American Progress Action Fund

Since the Google Reader will go dark on July 1, 2013, another site is available tor readers of a lot of blogs (or a single blog). The alternative is Bloglovin'. How does Bloglovin' work? Sign up, add all the blogs you want to follow, and then you’ll be notified every time one of your favorite blogs has a new post. Bloglovin' is available both on the web and on your iPhone or Android phone.

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