Rumors of the death of blogging…

…may be at least mildly exaggerated. I hope they are, anyway, and I’m looking for others who feel the same way.

(8/19/10, 6:00 PM – EDITED TO UPDATE): I’ve decided to keep this post on top for an extra day or two. It’s generating some great conversation, and I’d like to keep it front and center!

In addition to being one of my favorite authors, Beth Kephart is one of my favorite bloggers, and I appreciate the way she remains dedicated to blogging. Not long ago, she addressed a Newsweek article on the apparent decline of blogging (quoting Beth quoting the article):

“‘Blogging has withered as a pastime, with the number of 18- to 24-year-olds who identify themselves as active bloggers dropping by half between 2006 and 2009,’ report Tony Dokoupil and Angela Wu in a Newsweek story (August 16, 2010) titled, ‘Take This Blog and Shove it!  When Utopian Ideals Crash into Human Nature—Sloth Triumphs.’  Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr are alive and well, the authors tell us, because they ‘offer clear benefits to users, including the ability to easily stay in touch with friends, indulge in a game of Mob Wars, share baby pictures, or watch videos of fashion models falling down, in exchange for their time and efforts.’  Twitter, meanwhile, with its 50 million tweets a day, seems possessed of many lurkers and is not, apparently, a place where many choose to stick around.  ‘Between 60 and 70 percent of people who sign up for the 140-character platform quit within a month, according to a recent Nielsen report.'”

I loved her response:

“What people are seeking, apparently, is rewards—rewards for building content, rewards for leaving comments, rewards for checking in.  It comes as no surprise, of course, and indeed I’ve noted, among my blogging friends, a true shift, over the past year, in terms of those who shiver on the doorstep of a blog, and those who come to stay.

Tenacious, stubborn, call me what you will—I’m still hanging out my blogging shingle.  Blogging is no experiment to me, no call for attention, no wanting of rewards. It is a place where some of my thinking, my photographs, my living lives.”

Coming at it from a different angle in an after-BlogHer posting reflecting on the ways in which blogging has changed since she started in 2004, Cecily Kellogg expressed some similar insights:

“I am a full-on citizen of real time internet — meaning the instant gratification that comes from communicating on Twitter and Facebook. Blogging, oddly, has become the ‘slow’ social media medium…It’s not just the real-time internet that has changed my online community. It’s what blogging is about that is changing too…simply, (many newer bloggers’) blogs are NOT about them as much as they are about business. For me, my blog is my business, and my blog is about my life…For me, writing — and yes, I do consider blogging WRITING — is the professional love of my life.

“I’ve written here recently, over and over, about how difficult it is for me to ‘transition’ into being this new kind of blogger, how challenging it is to balance the brand-related work with the content-work of this blog. I realize, now, that the problem is this: I don’t actually WANT TO DO THAT. What I want to focus on, first and foremost, is my words. It’s time for me to remember that: I AM A WRITER.”

I’m not sure I’ll ever make anything of my writing outside the online space, but blogging is no experiment to me either. I’ve been at it for almost three and a half years and am approaching my 1300th post, which I expect to reach some time in the next month to six weeks (I’ll let you know, assuming I notice in time!). My enthusiasm for blogging remains – for the most part, most of the time – undiminished, although the pace and frequency of my posting may change from time to time, and there will continue to be gradual shifts in the content.

Blogging has made me a better writer and a better reader, and spurs me to keep trying to improve at both. I was never consistent about journaling, but now I regularly record thoughts and experiences (the ones I’m willing to share, at least). Blogging has introduced me to people and ideas and books and products that I’m not sure I’d have encountered otherwise, including some that have become very dear and essential to me. It continues to influence how I engage with the world around me, even as I experience things with thoughts of how I’ll blog about them stirring in the back of my mind.

However, I have to be honest – to some extent, I do care about the rewards, but I’ve learned to accept that they can take time to arrive. I feel let down when a post I consider particularly strong generates very little response. I keep a daily eye on my visitor and subscriber stats, and consider it a personal failure when they drop. I want my thinking and writing to be noticed, and I want feedback about them. And knowing that I do have readers who are interested, who keep coming back, and who engage is one of the things that keeps me here. Yes, I’d blog even if no one read it, but I really do want it to be read!

I don’t doubt that Twitter is full of lurkers, because lately I’ve become one of them in much of the time I’m there – my participation  has dropped, I don’t get involved in as many conversations, and I’ve come to think that truly effective use of Twitter requires more time that I have to devote to it. I use Facebook even less than Twitter (and have no plans to give this blog a “fan page” there), and feel that it’s becoming the new AOL. And I started blogging two weeks before my 43rd birthday. Most of the bloggers I regularly read and love are well beyond that 18-to-24 demographic (even my sporadically-blogging son is now over 25).

It’s been a while since I posted a link roundup, so I thought I’d include a small one here, highlighting some recent posts that I believe show that thoughtful blogging (and good writing) are alive and thriving:

  • I would think that someone chosen as one of Parenting.com‘s “Must-Read Moms” is unquestionably a writer, and yet, someone dared suggest that without a book published, Liz at Los Angelista’s Guide to the Pursuit of Happiness isn’t a “real” one.
    •  Amy of My Friend Amy is a  book-blogging community leader who has been working out some struggles with recovering her enthusiasm and purpose for reading, while Nancy at Discriminating Reader questions the purpose for classifying some books with cross-generational appeal as “young adult.”

    So, why are you here? What keeps you blogging – or what makes you think about stopping? Do you think blogging is on life support?

    Also alive and thriving – blog giveaways! But they don’t last forever. Tomorrow is your last day to enter my giveaway for a signed copy of Jennifer Weiner’s latest, Fly Away Home!

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