– 1 –
A couple weeks ago now, there was a discussion about the demise of the blogs, how it happened and why it happened and whether it was in any way reversible.
In short, blogs died because people tried to monetize them. And that fundamentally changed the original dynamic, from one where people read or thought or did and wrote about these things, to one where people wrote as a branded product to be consumed. And when that relationship has been monetized, you can’t have that easy flow of conversational communion which made the original blogs so compelling.
This isn’t a shot at people getting paid for their writing, and shouldn’t be taken as such. Talented writers ought to be paid for what they produce, as it is valued and valuable, just like any other man-made good. It’s just the observation that there is also room, really need, for writing that isn’t a salable commodity.
– 2 –
And into this void came Facebook. Easy to use. Easy to control who sees what. At a time when bloggers were focusing more on branding and less on being, it got less comfortable to write a blog that was just about being. And that made it easier to shift the being part over to Facebook, and leave branding to the blogs. And if you couldn’t wrap your head around the concept of branding and audience targeting and ramping up page views, you just gradually stopped writing and your blog withered.
Writing on the blog anyway. Lots and lots of words were being spilled on Facebook, where it was reasonably safe to just be.
– 3 –
Ironically, this entire discussion about how blogs died took place on Facebook. And the role Facebook played in the death of blogs can’t really be denied. I have had many valuable conversations there, and made many beloved friends. It’s just so easy to share and comment and discuss and connect there.
– 4 –
At least it was. These days, most of us struggle with the algorithm, desperately trying to convince it that yes we really are interested in these kinds of posts, and not at all interested in that MLM scam. It was bad enough last year when some women couldn’t convince Facebook to show them their own husband’s posts, yet their friends were constantly notified about every move friend’s husband made on the internet. You could be halfway through writing a comment on something fascinating and suddenly your phone would refresh and the post you were commenting on would be lost to the midst of time. It was maddening.
But now… The most recent changes to the algorithm have achieved nothing less than deliberately concealing those topics we are most interested in for days and days. When it finally deigns to show us the fascinating conversation that was going on behind Facebook’s malfunctioning ‘somebody else’s problem’ field, it’s almost in a spirit of spitefulness.
– 5 –
By this point, lots of us were pretty fed up with Facebook. Monetizing Facebook doesn’t work the same as monetizing blogs, its less about creating content on Facebook and more about acquiring the largest audience that can be sold to the highest bidder. But the net effect of all this noise on conversation is much the same. You can’t have a human conversation with a product, and you can’t hear a conversation if its so noisy you can’t even tell what’s happening.
This is the same reason why I hate most bars. In theory, bars seem great. Places that serve alcohol and you can sit and drink and talk to people. In practice, there is so much noise from the live band or the sportsing event on the TV or the radio that really you might as well be drinking alone.
– 6 –
Therefore, the idea is to resurrect blogging this Lent. This takes more than people writing about the things that interested them and the events that happen to them. It also takes people reading, and taking the trouble to comment about what they think in return. There’s no easy out of hitting ‘like’ and moving on.
Kate called it an oblates of blogging, and, well, she’s not wrong. I’m really interested in exploring that idea further, but I do still have the flu so it will probably need to wait for another day.
– 7 –
There’s no strict rule of how much to post and how much to comment. We will all write the posts and comments as they come to us, and as the demands of life permits. The chief rule is to put as much of the conversation onto the blogs themselves, instead of being in the Facebook comments of the shared blog posts. Lets move the conversations to a place where they will stay in one place and we can find them again when we have new thoughts to add.