Thursday, May 7, 2015

The empty streets of Blogville

When iGoogle went away, I lost track of the personal blogs I used to read on a regular basis. (It  was easy to see which blogs had been updated with iGoogle because snippets of their recent posts appeared on my front/search page in Chrome). I didn't easily find another way to keep up with them. But the other day, through with my medical treatments and with more time on my hands, I decided to look up the blogs I once followed. I was disappointed to realize that, without fail, nearly all had made their last posts two years ago.

"Where have all the bloggers gone?" several articles have already asked (just type that phrase or "the demise of blogs" into Google and you'll see what I'm talking about). Writer Mel Campbell, in her article, Should we mourn the end of blogs?, aptly said, "The blogroll in my sidebar reads like an honour roll of war dead."

It's assumed that many bloggers have migrated to Instagram and Twitter. In my case, it's Facebook, where I have a ready and responsive audience. The truth is that it's more affirming (and easier) to write a quip on Facebook and get 50 likes than it is to write a blog post that no one comments on.

And yet I'm still blogging. Sometimes it's the only time I write down what I am thinking at the moment. The posts are Instagram for my brain.

To randomly delve into the blogger universe, I've been hitting hit the "Next Blog" tab (at the top left of this page) and have discovered that, while many once-hopeful storefronts on Blogville have been abandoned, the craft stores, decorating shops and seamier establishments still persist. A typical tour goes something like this: Quilting blog, Quilting blog, dead blog (i.e., no post since 2013), Bad Poetry, dead blog, Erotica, Cheap Chic blog, dead blog, etc.

[Blogger help says that "Next Blog" is supposed to take you "to a recently-updated Blogger blog similar to the one you're currently viewing." But each time I've tried it in the last week, I've gotten much different results. One day it was entirely erotica sites; the next day, mostly quilting. A day later, blogs written only in Afrikaans.]

I've also found several "books I am reading"-type blogs, but I imagine that many of the people who had sites like this are moving or have already moved to Goodreads where their reviews are searchable and probably seen by a wider audience.

The blogs I once followed that have disappeared were written mostly by busy adults. Short of an unseen catastrophe in 2013, I imagine what happened is that they kept at blogging for a while and then got busy with work or with family events. Or perhaps they had said all they wanted to say--especially in a venue that offered no financial or other reward.

I, too, may close this Blogville venue in the future. It's not that I've said all that I want to say, but that, perhaps, I'm trying to say too many things. The blogs that have succeeded or, at least, have persisted are those with a specific kind of focus. Someone asked me to describe my blog the other day and I realized I didn't have an elevator pitch to describe it. "It's about creativity," I vaguely said. And then I tried to explain how I have written about art and books and have also interviewed creative people.

It would be so much easier to say, "It's about shoes" or "It's about vegetarian cooking." (There are lots of these blogs around) "Writing Home" might be a better name for a blog that shares letters people have written home over the centuries. Or in which I write about home and what home means. As a "home for my writing," it looks like I am trying to fill every room and bookshelf. Walking in, one might not know where to go or how to get there. Or one might just walk on by, on to a blog that offers updates on Bruce Jenner or a good dinner recipe.