Is it just me or does blogging these days seem tragically onerous? It's a little bit like living in a cabin in the woods, all by yourself. Your cabin may have been built with your own hands, and may be a cabin you're really very proud of, but ultimately it's a cabin that no one ever sees. It's just so far out in the woods, you know? No one sees the brick path you laid, the planters you filled with geraniums, the really neat pot hangers. No one sees your blog either.
It's lonely in the cabin. A person starts to feel like the only person in the woods. So we all come out to the lodge or the campfire, and we start chatting with the other mountain dwellers. Of course, when you're sitting around the campfire, you can't pontificate for hours on the state of your geranium planters. You have to keep it brief, keep it entertaining. That's Twitter. That's Facebook. That's Tumblr. Meet me at the campfire. I'll listen to what you have to say for thirty seconds at a time.
Here's the reality: I'm no longer visiting your blog. Well, that's not entirely true. I'm no longer visiting your blog just to visit. I will read your blog posts if one of these three conditions is met:
1. You tweet or Facebook a link to it that attracts my attention.
2. It appears in my reader, in which case I read it there, in my reader.
3. It turns up in a google search for something specific I want to know.
I don't care about your awesome page layout.
I don't care about your 18 inch blogroll.
I don't even care about your tag cloud.
No, not at all.
I do care, deeply, about your ability to write 140 words at a time in Twitter. I care about your ability to post funny or interesting Facebook updates. I care about your blog posts too, insofar as they fit into my reader, uniformly formatted with all the other posts by bloggers with which I've categorized you. I care about the words you write, but I no longer care about the context in which you write them. And really, I want to say to you, and to myself -- enough blogging. If you can say it in 140 words, you should. No more "What we did today." No more "Here's a funny anecdote." No more "Have you ever wondered about this question?" None of those things merit a blog post any more, and I'm not traipsing all the way out to your cabin to read that! Say it in 140 characters, right here at the campfire, or don't say it. Sorry!
It sounds extreme, and obviously, I'm not entirely done with blogging myself. So what kinds of things can I *not* say in 140 words? What topics do I actually feel justified blogging about, and what blog posts will I still trudge out to your blog to read?
1. Something that's long and funny.
2. Something that's long and useful.
3. Something that's long and contentious.
I might also blog something that's full of pictures, but it must also be either funny, useful, or contentious. Otherwise I can just Tweet or Facebook a link to the Flickr set.
That's really it.
Does this mean that we no longer have the attention span for blogs? Am I now supposed to say something wan and dire about the decay of this or that, or the disintegration of blah blah blah?
No. Because the writing isn't gone. The text isn't even really shorter. It's just that the internet has become more modular. Instead of the context of your layout, your blogroll, your About Me, your profile, your color scheme and the rest of it, you now exist in a larger context. You are now in the context of whatever feed that brings you to my screen. You are adjacent to everyone else. You are without context.
This isn't the decay of anything. It is a literary evolution. Now more than ever, content is king. The blog posts that people do write and pay attention to are less like journals, less like casual diaries, and more like articles -- meaty and complex. The blogs that survive Twitter and Tumblr and will be the ones with actual content that's accummulated into a body of work with merit. For the rest of the blogging population, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Flickr, and Friendfeed will more than suffice. This is a good thing, people. While "Blogging" may be alive and well, "blogging" is dead. Face(book) it: It's just not worth posting the small stuff anymore.
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