Making it Work Perspective
Thinking about Blogging 4: Declines and Ends
The next in this occasional series was supposed to be “How we blog”—and there’s quite a bit to say on that topic. Consider this episode a detour, taken in part to prepare two chapters for But Still They Blog. Part of Chapter 10 and most of Chapter 11 of that book are shorter versions of the first and second parts of this discussion.
Blogging is dead—we’ve heard that far too many times, including definitive pronouncements from such never-wrong sources as Wired Magazine. If you blog for the right reasons and find it continues to be worthwhile, you may find the Wired eulogy heartening: It’s strong evidence that blogging really has moved from toy to tool, from Shiny to Useful
Blogging isn’t dead or dying, and neither are liblogs in general—but many of them have declined, at least in frequency of posts, and a fair number have ceased or gone missing for extended periods. With apologies for the downbeat nature of parts of this essay, let’s look at some of the comments about declines and ends, intermixing personal comments and more general claims.
Begin more than a year ago (blogging’s been dying for years now) with Kathryn Greenhill’s post on May 18, 2008 at Librarians matter: “When should you stop blogging?” She cites a post from Problogger, “Should I stop blogging? 20 questions to ask yourself” (www.problogger.net/archives/2008/05/17/ should-i-stop-blogging-20-questions-to-ask-yourself/) and lists the questions with her own answers. Before that she offers other notes:
While I don’t think I have any intention of stopping Librarians Matter, I’ve noticed my posts are slowing down as I enter my third year. I’ve been spending more time twittering, on new work projects, blogging elsewhere, getting slowly interested in videoblogging–and even trying to go walking at 6am to spend some one-on-one time with [her 10-year-old son].
My friend Con (Ruminations) has been feeling in a pickle about whether to keep up with her blogging, Morgan (Exploded Library) has recently restarted his blog after a self-imposed hiatus and Fiona (blisspix) has decided to give up her more personal library related blog in favour of continuing a couple of others. I’ve noticed a huge drop in the number of new posts appearing in my aggregator from librar* blogs.
I find twitter is filling the community/comment space that was once filled reading and commenting on blogs…
Checking those three blogs a year later, Ruminations is still strong (but much less frequent in 2008 and 2009 than in 2007), explodedlibrary.info is back in 2009—and blisspix is indeed gone. Librarians matter is doing fine. The drop in the number of posts across the field of liblogs is clear (although not enormous) and may be a good thing. Is Twitter replacing blogs? I’d hope not, at least for serious issues—but it’s probably occupying time and energy that might otherwise go into blogging, just as FriendFeed does.
As to the questions? Go directly to either Greenhill’s post or the Problogger post. Some of the questions are “pro blogging” questions—”Is the blog earning anything?” and “Is the Blog’s traffic and income growing or shrinking?”—but others are probably worthwhile, except that they all boil down to “Do I find it worthwhile and have something to contribute, do others find it worthwhile, and do I find it worthwhile enough to take the time?”
That’s Andrew Keen’s thoroughly clichéd title for an April 19, 2009 post at The great seduction. For an April 2009 post, it shows a certain lack of historical awareness as he claims “Last year, questioning the future of the iconic weblog would have had me institutionalized.” Horsefeathers. But Keen’s keen on showing his superior set of friends and inside knowledge. He was in Amsterdam “with a thousand of my closest new media friends” and heard “whispered in the hallways” that the future of blogging isn’t promising. One pundit said “Blogging as we know it is dead. It’s finished.” Another—a WordPress cofounder—had an odd alternative: He thinks blogs will become “aggregation points,” “personal hubs” where we store “all our personal media content.” Really?
Oh, and blogging was “invented” by Keen’s “dear Berkeley friend and neighbor Dave Winer” (according to Keen, but certainly not Wikipedia) but has been transforming itself ever since. Let’s see: Are there more namechecks to help us understand what a bigshot Keen is? Nope, but we get Keen’s full answer: Both of these hotshots are right—”The old static blog is indeed dying. But it’s being resurrected by Wordpress as a real-time social media personal portal.” I can’t even parse the first sentence: What on earth is a “static blog”? One that has no posts? As to the second—well, maybe, but in that case isn’t it telling that Andrew Keen’s blog is a subdomain of typepad.com!
Lorcan Dempsey thought about how blogging may be changing in a May 3, 2009 post at Lorcan Dempsey’s weblog. He sees a distinction between personal blogs and traditional media in blog form (my wording, not his). Excerpts:
I seem to spend less time looking at blogs, library or otherwise. I don’t know if this is just me or if it is a general experience. The demands of work, life and Twitter perhaps. No doubt Walt will inform us in due course whether the volume of library blogging, at least, is up or down, whatever about the quality or interest.
However, as soon as I say that I realise that it is probably not true. I do look at quite a lot of things that are sort of quasi-blogs/quasi-news (e.g on Cnet) which I do not tend to think of as blogs because they do not have a strong personal voice. I occasionally look at some other things which are clearly ‘blogs’, if in some managed space. The blogs at HarvardBusiness.org are an example, and they seem a bit flat, as if produced to order.
[He read an ad for an editor of the BBC Internet Blog, very much a corporate blog.]
This prompts me to think that perhaps the word blog has become overburdened and as a result somewhat fuzzy in use. Sometimes we use it for the mechanics, for a mode of delivery which has become a useful and general web publishing medium: a stream of messages which are individually commentable, addressible, and signed, which can be subscribed to as a stream and which can be aggregated and mixed in various ways. Other times we may mean this, but we are principally thinking of the personal voice that comes through ...
So, I probably spend as much or more time looking at blogs in that mechanical sense. But I probably spend less time listening to individual, idiosyncratic voices ...
As a writer and editor for the Library Leadership Network, I use the broadest definition of blogs (Dempsey’s is too narrow, since it includes commenting)—but he makes a good point here. I’ve avoided “mainstream” blogs in almost all cases, those without strong personal voices, but I’ve left a few of them in my liblog studies. That may be a mistake; maybe we really need to determine separate media even within the library space. (Oh, as for Lorcan’s shout-out: Yes, I’m continuing to do that—and yes, the volume of liblog posts is down, although not radically so.)
That’s Morgan Wilson in a May 17, 2009 post at explodedlibrary.info. Wilson began reading liblogs almost a decade ago—librarian.net and The shifted librarian—but didn’t know the word. Later, he learned about it and started his own. Excerpts directly related to blogging:
It was extremely liberating. Some of that was the technology, the blogging software combined with the rise of Google. For the first time, self-publishing was inexpensive, easy and viable as a way of reaching an audience. But it wasn’t just the technology, there was the notion that the blog was your own platform, use it to express yourself and say whatever the hell you want to say. After all, most people didn’t even know about blogs.
Gradually things changed, more people started blogging and more people started paying attention to bloggers, and things got more serious. But those changes were flowing on from the growth of blogging and were to be expected…
Although I have described blogging as “not difficult,” publishing via [Facebook, Twitter, FriendFeed et al] is extremely easy. Although blogging has become fairly mainstream now, the ease of use factor of Twitter particularly has helped it become way more mainstream.
The difference between an old fashioned blog and somebody’s Twitter or Facebook or MySpace page is that a blog is published for the whole world to see, whereas it’s possible to control who can access the newer services. This may sound fairly obvious, but I think it’s caused a difference in how people use these newer self-publication services…
I wonder, if more and more people can express themselves via Twitter or Facebook, does that mean that over time less people will be interested in starting or continuing blogging?
Guessing the future is always hazardous, because the things which cause the biggest change can never be predicted.
But even if blogging does go into a gradual decline, in terms of its popularity or influence (it’s possible that if the mainstream news media continues in its downward spiral, blog posts may gain even more influence), I’m not worried that all of a sudden blogging will become meaningless.
It’s interesting to consider the narrative arc of this post, which would be impossible on the other services Wilson mentions. It starts with what appears to be a downbeat statement, a modified version of “blogging is dying”—and winds up with a reasonably positive ending, in line with my own feelings. It’s an interesting use of “halcyon” (which I hadn’t looked up in a long time)—I believe Wilson means “prosperous” or “golden,” not the first meaning in Webster’s Ninth, “calm, peaceful.” (Well, first other than sense 1, relating to the halcyon bird.) I’m tempted to comment on artificial intelligences having blue-green moods, but that would be silly.
Not as silly as Douglas Quenqua’s June 5, 2009 article in The New York Times Fashion & Style section, to be sure. He begins with a 2004 blog, where the first post was an anti-Bush rant that “generated no comments.” “The post generated no comments” gets its own paragraph. Oh, and this blogger hasn’t been blogging much, but might get back to it.
So? So we get the Technorati 2008 stuff (which I’ve covered before), the finding that only 5% of the blogs Technorati has identified manage at least one post every four months. “Lots of people start blogs and abandon them”—stop the presses! And when you chat with “retired bloggers,” you find that they’re disappointed because the world didn’t “beat a path to their digital door.” Or, alternatively, make them lots of money—the first-quoted inactive blogger hoped to make big bucks through blogging.
If there’s an interesting or worthwhile section to this story at all, it’s the opposite case: a blogger who did draw a big audience, but was unnerved by reader reactions and shut it down. That might be worth exploring, but instead we get “audience of one” and the letdown from blogs making everybody famous and wealthy. One is fairly pathetic as an example of how badly blogs are doing: An ad executive who got a big audience, got some ad deals that influenced his posts, then didn’t get the big ad revenue he was expecting. Such a shame!
Oh, and the blogger who shut down her blog because she didn’t like the reactions? She’s started a new one that’s more impersonal—and she’s hoping for a book deal or financial independence.
John Scalzi had a bit of fun with this story in a June 7, 2009 post at Whatever entitled “The New York Times: We may slide into irrelevancy but at least we update daily.” He notes that the focus on bloggers who quit when they find out it’s not a fast road to fame and fortune is “about a decade too late”:
I say this is a decade too late because I certainly remember the grousing in 1999 or thenabouts by folks discouraged that no one was beating a path to their virtual doors, and I remember the newspaper stories about just that fact. What’s old becomes new again, apparently.
1999 feels early to me, but only by two or three years. On the other hand, I’m with Scalzi in his comment on the abandonment of most blogs:
But again, this is no real surprise; the numbers are larger now but the percentage of abandoned blogs has been fairly consistent for years. The vast majority of blogs, in fact, have nothing but the following three posts:
Post One: “Here’s my blog! This is where I’m going to share all my thoughts about life, the universe and everything! It’s going to be great and I can’t wait to tell you all what I’m thinking about everything!”
Post Two: “Hey, sorry I haven’t updated in a while — life’s been crazy. But I’ll be back soon.”
Post Three: “Here’s a picture of my cat.”
And then it’s done.
Scalzi notes that writing on a regular basis is work—and he suspects many bloggers “realize fairly quickly that they either don’t like sharing all their thoughts to the world, or that their thoughts, while interesting to them, appear fairly banal once they’re typed out, and it’s better just not to post them for the sake of posting them.” It’s hard to argue with this statement: “Most blogs are abandoned because they should be.”
Scalzi finds the Times piece “almost endearing[ly] anachronistic,” noting that blogs aren’t the “hot new kid on the block these days.” He thinks most bloggers should move to Twitter and Facebook…and, to be sure, notes that most Twitter accounts have very few followers and very few updates.
It’s hard to make interesting content, whether it’s a 670 word blog post or a 140 character tweet. People might initially think they’re up to it, but they find out quickly enough that they’re not. Which, again, is perfectly fine.
The post has a mere 68 comments, which for Whatever is on the low side. I won’t attempt to summarize. (Several note that many bloggers aren’t out for fame or fortune.) Scalzi calls himself a wordy bastard. I can sympathize.
If the Times article is anachronistic, this one’s bizarre—it’s by Charles Arthur, posted June 14, 2009 at guardian.co.uk, the online arm of The Guardian.
Blogging is dying. Actually, no, let me qualify that. The long tail of blogging is dying. I say this with confidence. That confidence is based on two things: my anecdotal, but wide-ranging, analysis of what and how people remark on content from this section, and the surveys carried out by Technorati—which provides the Guardian with the feedback data that appears on our web pages. The interesting question is, what has replaced that blogging?
His anecdotal evidence? His section of the site is getting fewer pingbacks. In other words, bloggers aren’t talking about The Guardian’s technology section as much, therefore, they’re not blogging. Grandiosity, much? As for his proof from Technorati, since he links to the primary URL, I have no idea what he’s talking about; as Scalzi notes, there’s nothing new or particularly different about most people abandoning their blogs. The latest Technorati surveys show personal blogs, and blogs in general, as being healthy.
Given Arthur’s (misplaced) confidence that most blogs are dying (I can’t think of any other way to read “the long tail”), he says he thinks people have “all gone to Facebook, and especially Twitter.” (An odd wording, like “everybody’s swimming, and especially riding horses,” but maybe the Queen’s English works differently.) Ooh, ooh, and here’s more proof: Arthur quotes the Times story.
Finally, it all comes down to Arthur’s ultimate proof: He has 500 feeds in his reader and feeds “turn brown” when there’s no update within 60 days. “More and more of the feeds I follow are turning brown.” Is he adding new feeds? Are his feeds in any way typical? Why does this mean anything at all for anybody but Charles Arthur? Because he says so:
People are still reading blogs, and other content. But for the creation of amateur content, their heyday for the wider population has, I think, already passed. The short head of blogging thrives. Its long tail, though, has lapsed into desuetude.
Heyday? Maybe. “Lapsed into desuetude”? Nonsense. If there really are seven million blogs being updated reasonably frequently, that’s so far from being either a “short head” or “disuse” (I’m not educated enough to use “desuetude” in my own writing) as to be absurd. Some of the (few) comments get that and a Technorati person cautions against overinterpreting their reports. Hmm. A Guardian post gets 18 comments; a Scalzi post gets 68.
Laura McKenna (not a liblogger) wrote this July 2, 2009 post at 11d (www.apt11d.com—those are ones, not els), coming up on her sixth year of blogging and writing about how blogging has changed in the past six years. Excerpts, omitting items that I regard as wholly irrelevant to liblogs:
1. The A-List Doesn’t Matter Anymore. I just read a really nice paper that came up with a new method for determining the top 20 bloggers. The problem is that those bloggers aren’t nearly as influential as they used to be. Their ranks in Technorati and other lists are artificially high, because they are on the blogrolls of millions of blogs that were begun and quickly abandoned years ago…
Is there an A-list among libloggers? If so, what is it? Do the 20 most widely-subscribed liblogs in 2009 have anywhere near the influence they had in, say, 2006? I don’t believe they do—but then, I wouldn’t even dream of naming the “top 20” liblogs in November 2009.
2. It’s all about niche blogs. If you have a particular expertise and unique perspective, then you can quickly gain a following…
Hasn’t that been true for a long time—with the caveat that millions of people have unique perspectives on some topic?
3. Norms and practices. Bloggers have undermined the blogosphere. Bloggers do not link to each other as much as they used to… [Fewer blogs link to lots of other blogs.] Many have stopped using blogrolls, which means less love spread around the blogosphere…
OK, so the “blogosphere” is in trouble. That’s fine with me, as I never thought the term had any real meaning. There’s no “magazineosphere” or “bookosphere,” why should there be a blogosphere?
4. Blogger Burn Out. Many of the top bloggers have been absorbed into some other professional enterprise or are burnt. It’s a lot of work to blog. Most bloggers, and not just the A-listers, spend 3-5 hours every day blogging. That’s hard to maintain, especially since there is no money in this…
“Most bloggers…spend 3-5 hours every day blogging.” Really? I flat-out don’t believe that.
5. Reader burn out. You all are not clicking on the links like you used to. I’m not really sure why. In the past, if I was linked to by a big mega blogger, it meant 10,000 new readers in one afternoon. Now, a link by a mega blogger sends over a couple hundred readers…
Then it hits me: even though 11d’s Google Page Rank is the same as Walt at Random, a middling 5, McKenna is a Big Deal: “10,000 new readers in one afternoon.” Of course, I don’t get links from “mega bloggers,” whoever they are…and neither do most libloggers.
8. Twitter and Facebook. I don’t really need to explain this one…
So, blogging has changed a lot in the past six years. It’s still an excellent medium for self-expression and professional networking, but it will no longer make mega-stars. It’s actually a good thing that the hoopla has died down. No one should spend that much time in front of a computer. The expectations were unrealistic. Use your blogs to target particular audiences and have a clear mission, and you’ll get a following…
Or, for many of us, don’t look for “a following.” Write because you want to write, and you’re likely to find an appropriate audience. (The post has seven updates, chock full of namechecks and making it clear that McKenna is both an old hand and important—but none of them relevant to liblogs. Comments, at least as far as I read, are all over the place. Hmm. And McKenna claims 500 to 1,000 hits on an average weekday—which is interesting, because she’s Important, I’m definitely not, yet Walt at random currently averages 4,000 pageviews per day (seven days a week). On the other hand, she gets a lot more comments.)
Sarah Faye Cohen thought about Twitter and the extent to which it can undermine blogging in this July 9, 2009 post at The sheck spot. She notes some frequent libloggers (although two of the three she names aren’t that frequent these days), then draws a contrast:
I have never been like these people. I am an occasional blogger. I, like many bloggers, mean to blog more often. I have many blog posts I mean to share or thoughts on our profession that I share all the time with Andy and other co-workers but rarely do I find time to sit down and get it all out on my computer. And admittedly, I feel guilty about it. Lately, I even ask myself if I should maintain my blog at all. This, in part, is because of Twitter.
She’s one of those who didn’t get Twitter initially and didn’t much care for the required terseness—but she found good uses for it and finds herself in Twitter “more than I ever expected,” sometimes asking professional questions and getting fast responses.
Don’t get me wrong. I still read many articles, blog posts, and journal articles that are through RSS, references, citations, or referrals. But the point I am making is that my input and my output is shifting. I get information in a new way and I share information in a new way. I tweet an awful lot more than I blog… While I have never felt the need to blog for others, blogging can be a lonely endeavor while Tweeting is an amazingly communal one. Increasingly I find I work well with both. I appreciate the quiet of my blog. I appreciate the opportunity to go back and review what I’ve said. Even as I’ve been writing this post, I look back at my blog and realize how long I’ve been blogging and how much I have thought through things here. But on Twitter, I appreciate the ability to share without the added pressure of annotating and reflecting, or at least doing so very briefly.
So where am I? Where does this leave me in terms of my blog and my media? Thinking about how they intersect and diverge more than before. Certainly thinking about how I can use them effectively and interestingly in teaching. But also realizing the purpose and importance they both have for me. It does not need to be one or the other. There is a sweet spot to be achieved…
Cohen didn’t abandon and won’t abandon her blog—she’s blogging at roughly the same pace in 2009 as she did in 2008, down (but not much) from 2007. I don’t think there’s much doubt that most of us who don’t blog for money are finding a changing mix of social media. In my case, it’s still not Twitter—but there’s little doubt that things happen on FriendFeed that might otherwise happen on my blog or even in Cites & Insights. The last paragraph of the post is, I think, the key to the future of blogging as one of several social media for those who find essays worth writing:
Maybe I will keep the blog after all. I’d forgotten how cathartic it can be. How refreshing. How sweet.
That’s Meredith Farkas, July 22, 2009 on Information wants to be free. As usual, she has worthwhile things to say—and as usual, I’m having trouble excerpting the post. Still, I’ll try (but, as usual, I recommend the whole post).
I remember the first OCLC Blog Salon at ALA very fondly. It was like fangirl overload for me… There was such a great energy in the room — most of the people there had just started their blogs in the past year or two and were just discovering the community that the library blogosphere creates. Most of us had no idea when we started our blogs that these individual media would connect us to other like-minded individuals, giving us not only an outlet for our thoughts, but a distributed space in which to converse and (to an extent) socialize.
Just like previous years, there was a blog salon at this ALA Annual, but when I think about the ones I attended in 2005 and 2007, this event seems to pale in comparison. And I feel like it is symbolic of what’s happened to blogging in general. And I find that depressing.
Ah, Meredith, you didn’t attend ALA Midwinter 2009. That was a depressing blog salon—too few people in too big a room. Summer was lighter than some past years, but I didn’t find it depressing. (And I really don’t miss the earlier salons held in suites, where you could barely hear anyone…loads of energy, but too much for an old fogey like me.) Still…
Microblogging, what have you done to my beloved medium??? I remember joining Twitter reluctantly (since all my friends were there) more than two years ago and thinking that it was a fad that wouldn’t last. I mean, who would want to be online most of the day updating what they’re doing and reading about the minutiae of other people’s lives? What a time suck! Well, apparently a lot of people did, since Twitter and FriendFeed are wildly successful now. I thought, and still think, that microblogging is great for conferences — as a backchannel and to connect people to one another — but I still can’t commit to doing it enough to really feel a part of things. And I never would have guessed back then what a deleterious impact microblogging would have on longer-form blogging.
With Twitter (and even more easily in FriendFeed) you can have the sort of discussion one might have in the comments of a blog post, nearly in real time. And it’s really cool, because you can feel much closer to the people you’re conversing with since the conversation is happening so quickly and in a single space that everyone is on equal footing in. But that time element is also the problem. If a discussion went on during the work day and you find it in the evening, it’s yesterday’s news by then and there is often no point adding to the conversation…
To me, this is a particular disadvantage of Twitter—if you’re not there, you’re really not there, and it doesn’t thread conversations. FriendFeed is tough: You can catch up, but sometimes you just have to recognize that the parade’s gone by and you missed it. Sometimes, that’s a good thing.
I used to spend hours a day on my RSS feeds, reading thoughtful blog posts by really, really smart librarians. Now, I can get through my feeds incredibly quickly since there’s rarely anything from the people whose blogs I used to love. It feels to me like microblogging is more about being clever than thoughtful. You’re only as good as your last quip, and everyone is trying to write something that’s poignant, provocative, and/or funny in the smallest number of words possible… It’s not a knock on microblogging, but I don’t think it can’t replace the longer, more thoughtful posts many of us love to read in the blogosphere.
I don’t know that I ever spend hours a day, but it’s possible. It’s certainly the case that there are significantly fewer posts—the universe I’m currently studying is down 20% from 2008 to 2009, after being down 10% from 2007 to 2008, and there are fewer blogs in that universe. I share her concerns about “microblogging” (and dislike the term, a losing battle though that is).
Microblogging isn’t a bad thing though. I think it’s brought a lot of people even closer together. I can see it when I go into Friend Feed—the connections my friends have to one another, even though some of them haven’t even met in the physical world. And it’s given people who never blogged before a way to connect. But I actually feel less connected to my online friends than I used to simply because I don’t have the time to be there as much as I’d like… [Farkas, with teaching and a new son, find that life gets in the way of FriendFeed and Twitter.] It’s great for the people who can be there a lot, but many can’t. And that’s something that I never saw in the blogosphere because people could be part of the community when it suited them and wouldn’t miss a beat. It was easy to catch up if you were on vacation for a few weeks.
I’m wondering what I’ll do after our next serious vacation. I’ll certainly catch up with blogs and email. Will I simply ignore FriendFeed other than the most recent day? Probably—and that means I’m simply not part of the community for that time.
It really depresses me when I hear from people that blogging is over and when I see some of my favorite bloggers (who are now FriendFeed and/or Twitter devotees) cut their blogging down significantly to a “wow, I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve blogged” post every once in a long while. If it weren’t for getting pregnant and having a baby, I’d still be posting a lot, so for me, it wasn’t microblogging that affected the quantity of posting.
This troubles me as well. Blogging isn’t dying, but I do miss posts from some thoughtful people who I believe are busy with Twitter and FriendFeed.
…Maybe this is the way communication is moving and I should just get over it and get on the train. But I really hope that both can exist (and thrive!) side-by-side. I hope people will find a balance between the two. But what I’ve seen over the past year makes me think that may not be possible and that most people are devoting the majority of their energies to one or the other.
I don’t believe it’s most people. I believe it’s a fair number of people.
It’s not like everyone has given up blogging or writing thoughtful posts. I still find some great material in my aggregator from some really great library bloggers. Maybe I’m feeling this more because I haven’t added enough newer librarianship-related blogs to my aggregator, blogs from people who are still bursting with enthusiasm about this awesome medium…
She ends by asking for suggestions for newer blogs. There were 39 comments (as usual, almost all comments come in the first few days—in this case, 38 in the first three days, one a month later). A couple of people commented on the movement of comments to FriendFeed. One took my silver-lining view in a slightly different way: “I think diehard bloggers will still blog and this shakedown probably means that what’s left is higher quality.” Near the end of the thread, another said much the same thing: “It seems more like a natural process of separating the wheat from the chaff in the blogosphere is playing out right now with worthwhile and regular writers still shining while others without much to say are falling by the wayside.” I’d like to believe that’s true…
Another commenter notes that she finds blog posts through Twitter (and it’s clear that FriendFeed points the way to posts). This person wonders whether there’s room for new libloggers and speaks of established bloggers “who have staked their claim”; I’d like to think that, particularly given the number of established bloggers who’ve cut back, there should be plenty of room—but I look at the small number of widely-read liblogs that began in 2008, and I wonder.
Some wondered whether Twitter and FriendFeed are really to blame, or whether there are other reasons for a decline in blogging—and that’s almost certainly the case for some people. There’s more; as noted, this was a remarkably extensive conversation for a liblog post in 2009. (There were just about as many comments on this post on FriendFeed.)
In addition to lots of comments, this post drew a followup from Rachel Singer Gordon, posted July 25, 2009 at The liminal librarian and titled “Meredith is more thoughtful than I.” She notes the many comments on Farkas’ post and wonders whether that’s because Farkas is an “A-list blogger” with “a bajillion readers” or “because she’s one of the few people still writing these long, thoughtful blog posts that she misses, and people want to be part of that conversation?” She also notes that her non-library blog gets a lot more comments than liminal—and she’s not sure whether that’s because she posts more there, because of the topic or because “people who are into that type of blog tend read it directly rather than on Facebook/FriendFeed?” My guess is that “Yes” is a good answer. (The post drew four comments, including mine.)
Michelle McLean posted this at Connecting librarian on July 29, 2009, her fourth “blogiversary.” She discusses the reasons she blogs, refers to Meredith’s and other posts and offers her own slant:
I’ve been thinking about blogging for a while now. Even considered stopping altogether, but couldn’t bring myself to do it. Although I’m not blogging as regularly, I still feel I have something to say and that this is one of the places I can say it.
Some of the reasons I have been blogging less, are that I am twittering more (most days and for most of the day usually) and I have been more writing away from the online, in the form of conference papers and articles…
I’m feeling less pressure to blog too, probably because of my increased presence on Twitter and Facebook–now I try to blog at least once a month, if not once a fortnight, but only when I have something to say, not just for the sake of it. Maybe I’m finally maturing as a blogger. :)…
Connecting Librarian was intended to be the centre of my online presence, but it’s now one of three main locations you will find me. It’s now becoming where I do my deeper thinking, whilst Twitter is where I have more of my interactions and conversations and Facebook is mostly just about connections…
…I too miss the depth of content that comes with blogging and I have noticed a marked decrease in the frequency of blog posts arriving in my RSS reader. On the other hand however, I love the immediacy and the contact that micro-blogging brings….
I think that for now, my centre is Twitter–that’s where I spend most of my time in terms of an online presence, but I am not giving up my blog. I still have many things to share and this is the ideal forum for that… Be reassured that there will still be blog posts, in the next year, although maybe not as often as I have in the past. I still want to blog though because I am still learning and discovering and find I still want to share all that I do, whilst “connecting new ideas and technologies with library service.”
McLean’s blogging less than she used to—but those posts are substantive and worthwhile, and six good posts in a quarter are still six good posts.
That’s the question posed in this August 4, 2009 post by Jim Till at Be openly accessible or be obscure (tillje.wordpress.com). Till notes big changes in two OA-related blogs, with Peter Suber curtailing his blogging at Open access news and Dorothea Salo “hanging up the keyboard” at Caveat lector. Till, who’s specifically interested in open access, finds himself searching FriendFeed and Twitter for OA-related items. He too thinks that the role of blogs may be evolving “because of Twitter and FriendFeed” and notes Farkas’ post (and my comment).
Then he discusses a new OA journal—and the fact that he first heard about it via FriendFeed. “This illustrates the advantage of short-form blogging as a means to disseminate news items.” Maybe that’s right—although, unless you rely on hashtags, Twitter’s a tricky case. If all you want to do is point out a new journal, traditional blogging is probably overkill.
But the post really doesn’t address the question raised. I don’t believe many bloggers are arguing that Twitter and FriendFeed should die or that they can’t be useful complements or supplements. But what does that do to blogging itself?
Marcus Banks chose to comment on a different aspect of blogging’s changing reputation in this October 5, 2009 post at Marcus’ world. Which is to say, some people still regard blogging as somehow inferior to real writing and suggest that blogging leads to too much sharing.
Among the criticisms of blogs are that they are vessels for meaningless public narcissism…There is copious chaff among the wheat of the blogosphere. But I’ve felt for years now that a thoughtful, introspective blog post is just as powerful as a well-developed personal essay. What is the difference?
One of my favorite books is The Art of the Personal Essay. Edited by Phillip Lopate, the book was published in 1995--well before anyone knew the word “blog”--and contains essays going all the way back to ancient days…. And Michel de Montaigne deservedly gets his own section, as he is the most famous personal essayist who ever lived.
de Montaigne died in 1592. The desire for a public accounting of personal business existed well before the Web… Blogs make the impulse to share easier to achieve, but they didn’t create it.
The obvious difference between a blog post and a published essay is that blogs are unvetted by anyone except their authors. Essays must pass both publisher and editorial scrutiny. This means the bar for what counts as a “good” blog should be high. And who’s to say what counts as good? That’s another problem.
All of these are legitimate questions about blogs, which are still a very new form of writing. But accusing blog platforms of inventing the desire to over-share is spurious…
I’m more sensitive than most, I recognize, because I’ve now written this blog for close to five years. Some posts are much better than others and most are decent but not great. The best posts I’ve written been very personal, and this candor has helped others.
Would the writing have been any different if it was printed on paper rather than etched on a screen? I hope not. The writing is what counts, in print or online.
Maybe this isn’t appropriate for this section; maybe it belongs in “why we blog.” Banks can be very personal in his posts—but also mixes personal and professional in some fascinating ways. His own blog is good evidence for the case he’s making, and I believe it to be a strong case.
That’s the title, intentionally SHOUTING, of an October 24, 2009 post by Mita Williams at New jack librarian. It’s partly about commenting (or the lack thereof) and the unpredictability of commenting, and offers Williams’ take on why seemingly trivial posts sometimes get more comments than substantive posts, but in giving her take she gets into another area that certainly changes the blogging arena:
We don’t need any more information in our lives. For every subject upon which you can throw your attention to, there is so much material available that now you also have to choose which point of view you want to go with it. And we don’t need any more entertainment in our lives, either. Most people have a backlog of books to read, movies to watch, TV series to catch up on DVD or PVR, and games that they can’t wait to play.
So we really don’t need a/nother blog to read.
The ‘trivial posts’ of the microblogging set, are personal—easy to write, easy to read, and—most importantly—easy to respond to. When strangers meet, they talk about the weather. When you meet online, you make talk about Kanye or whatever. And over time, you get to know a little bit about each other...
What people need is something that makes them truly happy and that thing is community.
My primary response would be to caution against generalizations. Personally, I do get to know people through their blog posts—and I do desire thoughtful new perspectives on areas I care about, including points of view I don’t necessarily agree with. I hope Williams is wrong—not about the “group hug” nature of much of FriendFeed and Twitter (she’s clearly right there), but about the usefulness of less “huggy” media. If she’s right, then maybe blogging is dying—and I don’t believe that to be the case. (There’s only one comment, a 289-word one-paragraph anonymous thing that, although I may agree with much of it, I’d have to class as a rant.)
To get more of a sense of how blogging may be changing or declining, let’s look at a few posts from a mix of liblogs that seem to have changed recently—or gone into a state of temporary decline. (I’m omitting blogs that have disappeared for long periods; we’ll deal with those a bit later.)
That’s David Fulton in a May 17, 2009 post at Daveman’s blog, formerly Daveman’s tech tips:
The first rule of blogging is “have something to say.” For the last two and a half months, I’ve been thinking about what to say and I’ve concluded that the purpose of this blog has changed.
Before I started my new job as site manager at Polaris Library Systems, I tried to blog whenever I ran across something that I thought would be useful or interesting to my readers. To find these tidbits, I spent at least half an hour each day doing current awareness activities; reading blogs, newsletters, RSS feeds, listservs, websites, etc. Things move fast in library technology and I felt it was critical to keep up as best I could.
The first two weeks at Polaris were overwhelming…. [Work details omitted.] For those first two weeks at Polaris, I didn’t do my current awareness at all. Partly, I didn’t need it for what I was doing and, after working intensively with a computer all day, I just couldn’t face one in the evening. As my comfort level with the job has increased, I’ve gradually been reading my information resources more frequently. But I don’t think I’m going to rely on them as a source for my blog posts.
In the past, I found things to blog about as a result of my current awareness activities. Since that’s not a big part of my current job, I’m not running into them anymore. So the blog will change. Future postings will not be as frequent as they used to be and will cover other things that I’m interested in, such as folk music, acoustic guitars, books and who knows what else. I think so now, anyway.
This blog had declined substantially—from 27 posts in March-May 2007, to 14 in 2008…to two in 2009, albeit two essays rather than 14 or 27 fairly short posts. Fulton changed focus and changed the blog’s name. He’s still not posting a lot, but when he does post, he has something to say.
That was the title of Nicole S. Dettmar’s first post at Eagle Dawg Blog in March 2008. At the time, she had this to say:
The intended purpose of this blog is to be my starting point for the Web 2.0 101 continuing education class for the Medical Library Association, but who knows what direction the field or my studies may take me from here.
I’ve been blogging off and on since 1996 or so… When I first heard the term ‘blog’ back in those ancient days, I thought it meant a backup log of activity on web servers so I did not consider myself a blogger. I still don’t think of myself as a ‘real’ blogger because, for the time being, I don’t have practical deep and profound brain things inside my head about the medical library profession since I’m not actually in it yet. I’m full of theory as any new graduate who is considered young by our profession’s standards should be, but old enough to keep quiet and observe for now without expounding in public.
Welcome aboard for the ride!
Most “class blogs” die. Some don’t. Dettmar, who is now definitely part of the field, has turned this into a solid post on medical library and other topics, averaging ten posts a month this year. She writes with style and clearly adds a worthwhile new voice in a category that doesn’t lack for strong personal voices.
One way blogs change is when the blogger’s life changes in substantive ways—a new job, a new assignment, a new child, a new whatever. Steve Oberg’s been doing Family man librarian since 2002, and it’s always been as much about family life as it was about libraries and technology. But in September 2008, he changed positions within a corporate library—and on December 28 posted this:
Since my job change at the end of September, I’ve noticed that my professional interests and reading habits have shifted quite a bit. In particular I’ve noticed that most of the library blogs to which I’ve subscribed don’t seem as relevant any more. Consequently I’ve unsubscribed from most of them. I wonder, am I losing librarianship? I’m proud to be a librarian, don’t get me wrong. And I’m not exactly thrilled about all aspects of corporate life and the silly pap that I sometimes need to consume as part of that. But I do really like my new, expanded role focusing on search and taxonomy, with the opportunities for learning new things and expanding my horizons. As part of that I’m looking around for other sources of information in the blogosphere and elsewhere that will help me keep well informed and current, and I don’t have as much time for keeping up-to-date with purely library-related things.
That’s the whole post. Activity on the blog dropped sharply—from 42 posts in March-May 2007 and 75 (!) in March-May 2008 to seven in March-May 2009. In September 2009 he noted that his group is leaving the corporate library entirely, moving to another part of the corporation. Effectively, this blog is no longer a liblog.
This one’s interesting: A distinct change in an established blog—and one that may or may not be temporary. Sara Kelly Johns has had From the inside out since January 2006, with relatively infrequent posts about professional associations and school librarianship. But with this post on October 2, 2009, the blog gained a new subtitle—”Blog for SKJ4ALA campaign”—and a distinctly new purpose.
Well, it’s public now. I am running for ALA president, an opportunity to represent all libraries, librarians, library workers and trustees, using the resources and tools of ALA to have a loud voice.
School Library Journal published an announcement yesterday and I am going to be busy here in DC at their Leadership Summit, but I will love to hear from people with their ideas for what ALA can do for them, how it can make a difference. I know ALA can.
Thanks to my son Ryan for the new picture! My baby website is up but more will be added to it soon. I am hoping that between the blog and the website, I will hear from a lot of people with ideas and concerns.
Some successful ALA presidential candidates have launched blogs that ceased at the end of their presidential or past-presidential year. Some have shifted their blogs into campaign mode and, if successful, coverage of their years in office (ALA president is a big job—a later post notes that, if she wins, she’ll retire). Frankly, I can’t imagine a liblogger running for ALA president and not converting the blog into primarily a campaign vehicle.
Sometimes a change is terse and maybe a little mysterious, such as this July 12, 2009 post in Ian Snowley’s library management blog:
I’m modifying this blog, to reflect some changing professional interests. So ‘regular readers’ please bear with me whilst I make the changes and try to work out a design that will accommodate the information I want to share.
That’s it—and, so far, other than one other post on the same day, we’re still bearing with him.
That’s just a sampling; there are many reasons for change, some of which never turn up as posts.
Why does a blogger pause (which I’ll define as not blogging for at least four months) or stop altogether? I’m fairly certain the most common reason is premature blogging—that is, starting a blog before you really know whether you have much to say. I suspect other reasons are all over the map, with the second largest probably being running out of steam or losing interest (or, these days, finding that what you have to say is easier and faster on Twitter, FaceBook or FriendFeed).
A fair number of libloggers stopped over the last couple of years. What follows is a large sampling of posts on why people have stopped or paused blogging—or, in some cases, the fateful final posts that don’t appear intended to be final. Included are some “haven’t been blogging much lately” posts.
That appeared May 4, 2009 on Info career trends, a blog-based newsletter. Excerpts:
Important announcement: After the May 2009 issue, Info Career Trends will be going on hiatus indefinitely.
But why, Rachel?
After putting out bimonthly issues for nearly 9 years, it’s time for a break. I’m finding it harder to balance labors of love like ICT with family and with paid projects, and need to refocus some of my energies. Read Greg Schwartz’ post on priorities about putting his Uncontrolled Vocabulary podcast on a similar hiatus; he pretty much says it for me as well…
Rachel Singer Gordon keeps the site and, thus, the archives alive and, for a couple of columns, made sure there were ways to keep getting them. The balance is difficult, particularly for ambitious projects such as Info career trends (and Cites & Insights, for that matter).
Richard Akerman posted this on June 28, 2009 at Science Library Pad—and it’s not about ending, but about an extended slow period.
The blog is quiet for a number of reasons, including
* I have moved to using Twitter (@scilib) and FriendFeed a lot more for sharing information
* I have a new iPhone and as I discussed in my Twitter modes posting, short-posting services like Twitter are a more natural match for using on mobile devices…
* Reason I can’t tell you which will be announced soon
…I recognize that Twitter is a much noiser information channel, full of half-formed thoughts, asides and insider person-to-person conversations. The blog is still the best platform for long-form thoughts.
“Quiet” isn’t gone (Akerman had more posts in March-May 2009 than March-May 2008), but “gone Twittering/FriendFeeding” is clear enough. As of November 4, 2009, there’s only been one (quite substantial) post since this one, in late August—after a fairly steady stream through mid-June.
Janie Hermann posted this on June 28, 2009 at Library garden—a group blog on which she went quiet for a couple of months. Excerpts:
For the last few months I have been suffering from a writer’s block of sorts that has made it impossible for me to write a blog post of any length or substance. I have done other writing, just no blogging so it is a true blogger’s block. This has never happened to me before and I have spent the last few weeks honestly trying to figure out the cause is behind this blockage.
It is not a lack of ideas. I have lots of ideas for posts, they come to me at odd moments and usually when I am nowhere near a computer (or even a piece of paper and pen to jot down a quick outline). Lately, however, when I finally sit down to write a post one of three things seems to happen:
1. I start writing and suddenly I feel as if it has already been said before. What seemed like a brilliant blog post when I thought of it, now feels like it is just rehashing the same conversations that we have been having on libraryland blogs for the last few years…
2. I start writing on a timely topic but I don’t have time to finish and by the time I go back to polish it off it is no longer relevant or timely…
3. I start writing and feel like I am writing too much about MPOW and all the awesome things we do here. This is not the intended focus of Library Garden…
There’s more to Hermann’s post—she describes several pieces of advice on breaking writer’s block and uses them as the basis for a good solid post. (And she’s been back since.) I’m including this partly because I believe she includes three reasons some blogs disappear: Some people do run out of bloggable ideas, some find that their own focus is no longer the blog’s focus—and some people do feel, rightly or wrongly, that it’s all been said before.
That’s Steve Lawson in a July 3, 2009 post at See also… Portions:
So. I haven’t been around here much lately. I’m not sure if you noticed. I’d understand if you didn’t. The whole “blog” thing has seemed a bit underwhelming lately, no? Caveat Lector is dead and I’m not feeling so hot myself. Or something.
One of the reasons I haven’t written much here in the past few months is that I have been working on writing a book… The ego boost from having someone say “would you like to write a book?” doesn’t quite make up for the months of inertia, self-doubt, and ever-growing dread as the sound of the deadlines wooshing by starts to drown out the Muse of Library Science whispering in my ear.
I have also been busy fighting off depression. I have been prone to mood swings and so on since I was an adolescent, and the blues have been getting harder for me to shake…
You may be asking yourself (as, indeed, I am asking myself) “why is he telling us this?” And I’m not sure. I don’t think I have ever deleted a post after publishing it, and this could be the first.
But I guess I’m trying to say that even though I have neglected this blog (along with many other things) I’m not quite ready to give up on it. I have things I want to write, some about libraries, some about other things. So this blog may be a bit more personal or a bit more random. I sort of miss the days before Twitter and FriendFeed where blogging and commenting was the primary way to communicate publicly on the web.
And I hope that the things that have kept me away from blogging are turning around…
Writing a book is a great reason (reason, not excuse!) for a “blogcation”—and unless you’re blogging about the blues, it’s hard (and maybe inadvisable) to blog too much when you’re down. But also note the penultimate paragraph—Lawson, who uses FriendFeed as effectively as anybody I know, sees something missing there as well. I think. If you don’t read See also… (why don’t you?), Lawson’s back with reasonably frequent and usually thought-provoking posts.
Frankly, I was never aware that Iris Jastram hadn’t been blogging as much in June 2009, but that’s what she says in this July 3, 2009 Pegasus librarian post.
Popping over here…brought me up against a sobering realization, though: I posted once last month. Once. And that was a post I’d outlined weeks ahead of time. I’ve had dry spells before, but never like this.
It crossed my mind that maybe I should just put this thing out of its misery, but I don’t think I’m ready to follow in CavLec’s footsteps yet. So here I am again, and here’s a bit of what I’ve been up to since last I thought much about blogging….
[Summarizing; Busy spring term. Two family marriages and a graduation in one month. And…]
Then I took two weeks off of work to do as much of Nothing At All as I could. In case you missed it, that was TWO WHOLE WEEKS off. In a row. Bliss. During that time, I became a big fan of sitting on the porch with a book, a laptop, and some iced tea….
It’s been a weird few months in which many individual good things happened but the whole felt kind of awful. I was tired. I am tired. But I think things are starting to turn around. And while I’m not sure how frequently I’ll post or what I’ll write about, it’s nice to see this space sitting here and waiting for me.
It’s true that Jastram had only one post in June, and substantially fewer in March-May 2009 than in previous springs. “Life happens”: The only reason you need for a pause in blogging. And in this case it was definitely a pause—the blog’s been back to a healthy pace of worthwhile posts beginning in July 2009 and continuing since.
Andrew Whitis posted this on July 6, 2009 at library+instruction+technology. Excerpts:
For the record, I am not dead. I have been on a blogcation…or maybe that is a blog-sabbatical…or maybe life just got busy and my use of alternate communication channels increased.
I’ve read a couple of posts over the last few days from other librarians feeling guilty about not tending to their blog as they would like. I didn’t intentionally plan on taking a year off. Like most of you, a lot of my communication has dispersed into various social media streams. You know the obvious culprits…Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, FriendFeed, Flickr, and del.icio.us. I did consider abandoning this blog, until I noticed that my site visit stats show that people are still tripping across content. The stats indicate that people are mostly “reading” the posts written about conference sessions. I guess I will keep the blog up for awhile and see if I can get into another posting groove (if only to buck the dead and dying blog trend that not many people are blogging about but lamenting on those other social channels).
In case you are curious, here is what I did during my year long blogcation…
Quick summary: Job interview; ALA Annual; big work project; award; successful job interview and new position; sold a house and moved to the new position with no downtime; accepted into a mentoring program; applied for a team workshop; purchased a house; rebuilt the new library’s website; Midwinter; and more projects and conferences…in other words, a very busy year.
I really do plan on getting back into writing mode. There is a lot more I would like to write about the Learning Spaces & Technology workshop and my experiences from our learning commons project.
Since then? Two posts in July 2009, nothing since. Not clearly “the curse of the I’m Back post,” but we shall see…
Mark Lindner on July 13, 2009 at habitually probing generalist. Bits & pieces:
Seems I don’t have much to say anymore. We’ve all read of the death of blogging. The move to Friendfeed and Twitter. XYZ.
None of those are entirely true. I have plenty to say and a fair bit to talk about…But there are other things that I have chosen to give my time to.
Summary: Big work projects—and a renewed position. Big life changes. Personal honors.
There are going to be a few changes around here soon. Does that mean I may finally start posting again? I can’t really say…
…I like having this space in case I do want to share and get around to doing so. It’s nice to know it is here waiting on me.
Perhaps I should note that the July 13 post was on Off the Mark; Lindner changed the name (again) a bit later, and explained why. (He swapped tagline and name.) The blog’s still not enormously active, but Lindner does have things to say; he’ll return.
This July 27, 2009 post by char booth at info-mational is notionally a “day in the life” post but includes booth’s thoughts about a decline in posting:
After reading Meridith Farkas’ excellent post (see above) on the the blogging/tweeting thoughtfulness v. frequency relationship, I was motivated to reflect for a bit on my own recent blog/microblog habits. I have begun to engage more regularly with Twitter (@charbooth) and find that it leads people to my blog posts via alternate routes, and I definitely ascribe to the notion that the relative ease/timeliness of microblogging reduces the amount of insubstantial blog posting I do by taking care of the quick/dirty job of sharing insta-thoughts/quips/finds. I appreciate the format-based separation it seems to be creating between lengthier and shorter reflection in professional discourse, and I also find that (particularly in the case of trending) Twitter generates a short/long-form feedback loop that is strangely satisfying to follow. Last but not least, Twitter finally achieves what I always wanted my various feed readers, etc. to, of floating interesting items I do and don’t already follow to the top of the library blog morass in real time. While I might blog only slightly less because of tweeting, I’m absolutely following the conversation more. For me, all of the above are examples of the “balance” Meridith hopes will develop between these media.
The real reason I post to info-mational less often these days because a) I’m writing so ferociously on other projects, and b) it’s that summer zombie (as in half-dead) zone in academic libraries where so much and so little always seems to be happening at the same time…
No further comment needed.
So is Twitter the great blog killer? For some people, probably—such as Tara Murray, who posted this on July 29, 2009 at DIY Librarian:
Six months ago, I tentatively signed up for a Twitter account and started posting a few things. I figured I’d use it occasionally during conferences but that would be it.
Well. This blog has been silent for nearly two months, and I think Twitter is at least partly to blame. I keeping posting to Twitter about things I’d like to write blog posts about later…and then I just never seem to get to the blog posts. I’m also not reading as many other blogs–but I am reading a lot of librarians’ posts on Facebook and Twitter.
Rather than get all apologetic, I decided to add a Twitter widget to my blog sidebar. I do intend to continue writing somewhat longer commentary on this blog, but the reality is that most of my current chatter is on Twitter–so please do follow me there.
That post would almost fit on Facebook, but not quite. (Personally, I hate Twitter widgets because I dislike any moving elements on a text page—but aggregators remove that aggravation.) Murray’s still blogging now and then—and none of the posts chatter.
From 75 in 2007 to 25 in 2008 to 0 in 2009: Those are the March-May post figures for Jennifer Macaulay’s Life as I know it. This August 1, 2009 post explains why (omitting some detail):
Over the past year, blogging has been a nonexistent priority in my life. The major reason for this is that school wiped me out–sapped me of almost everything that I had to give. Working as a systems librarian full-time and attending library school meant that almost every waking thought that I had was about libraries… Once I finished my schooling and realized that I needed some space, I started looking for ways to take more time for me. Given the amount of time and effort that blogging takes, I decided to let it go. And you know, it did help.
Oddly enough, I have missed blogging–quite a bit. I can’t say that I am surprised by this fact. This was always a place where I worked through my own thoughts about library-related issues. When blogging, I found that I paid more attention to things that were happening in the library world. I thought about them more consciously–and I admit that I cared about them more. Since allowing myself to take a break, I have noticed that I pay less attention to things that are happening in the wider library sphere. I am much more narrowly focused in scope. This isn’t bad. It was probably a good thing. I think that I needed to narrow my focus in order to make it through the past year…
I believe that things have leveled out a bit (or I have just become used to how things now are). I’m starting to care more about what is going on in the greater library world. So will I return to blogging? I hope so. I have been thinking about it for the past six months…
Macaulay specifically didn’t promise to return—and apparently needed a few more months (as of December 13, 2009, this is the most recent post).
Chrystie Hill’s Libraries build communities blog is primarily an adjunct to her book—but even topical blogs and bloggers sometimes need breaks, as this August 4, 2009 post notes:
I’m on a brief break from blogging because I just had a wedding and have yet to find my way back to normal life where one reads, writes, blogs, and generally keeps up with colleagues in library land. It has even been hard keeping up with my day job, but oh so glorious to be spending big chunks of energy on the personal (and not the work). My mom tells me that you get to be a bride for a year (really? how weird!), but I don’t suppose I’ll be gone that long…I agree with Meredith that when we’re not here, I miss us.
I’m going to spend the next few weeks dusting off and clearing out my reader in preparation for some kind of comeback…
She’s back, sort of, primarily posting reviews of the new book. Doesn’t getting married earn you a few months’ devotion to something more important than blogging? I’d certainly think so.
This one’s particularly interesting because it’s on a supplemental blog, explodedlibrary bunker, which you’d expect to go quiet for months at a time (as it does). Morgan Wilson muses about flying across Australia over the outback, which is much emptier (and flatter) than America’s interior.
I want to make it clear, that the interior of Australia seemed emptier is not a bad thing. Actually, seeing all that emptiness was a profound experience. I wouldn’t want it to be any different.
It’s been almost 3 months since I met L and my life changed. Sad to say, my blogging and writing has been one of the things which has suffered during this time. But I will not blame that on L, there have been other reasons for this. But in general I only have time for so many big things in my life, it’s basically a trinity. Before I didn’t have a relationship, so my life basically consisted of work, recreation and blogging. Now things are closer to this: work, relationship, recreation.
It will be interesting during this month when L is away travelling in the USA and Europe. It is an opportunity to reset things, get back into the habit of blogging, so that when she returns, I’ll continue blogging—which will probably mean less gaming, which is ok.
I should ask myself why this happened. Blogging is more work than reading or playing computer games, but it’s not as draining as work, and I do feel good about it afterwards. I should remember this. Then there have been other disruptive things, such as moving house and different role at work, which have made it difficult for me to blog lately.
One of the characteristics of my blogging is that is that it is prone to prolonged droughts. That said, every so often the conditions are right and I do blog more actively. I am reminded of the dry riverbeds I saw on my flight over central Australia. Most of the time they look quite dead, but when there’s rain, they are full of life.
That last paragraph says a lot about the ongoing health of liblogs, in a time of apparent decline. Some people—most of those who’ve maintained liblogs for any length of time—do have things to say that make sense to say in blog form, and while the rivers can run dry, they do come back to life.
Eva, the “bigeneration librarian,” posted this on October 15, 2008:
So here’s the scuttlebutt:
I love this blog and writing it has been an amazing experience! But as my lack of posting in the last month and a half points out, my current pursuit of other projects leaves me little time to focus on this blog. So I have decided to give it a rest for a while. I can’t say whether I will come back to it at some time in the future, but I will not rule it out:)
So it’s pip-pip-cheerio for now, and thank you all for reading!
When life and work get in the way, you can take an unannounced pause—or you can let people know that you may never be back.
That’s Matt Hamiton on October 3, 2009 at The brewin’ librarian, and the title almost says it all.
I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and I’ve decided it’s time to officially close up shop on this particular blog. I’ve had some personal challenges in my life for the last 6 months that have kept me busy when not working and I’ve neglected to continue to post. More importantly, I feel that I’m in a much different place in my career and in the library world now than when I started this blog and it’s time to acknowledge that shift. I feel like it’s almost not fair to those who’ve subscribed and/or linked to this blog to pretend as if this is a viable project for me still.
However, instead of no longer writing I do in fact plan to begin writing more very soon. So look for a new project to be revealed in the coming weeks that reflects a new perspective and purpose. It may be a team blog, it may take a different form altogether…
There was an earlier post that discussed life changes that had interfered with blogging; this post put a formal end to this blog.
Wireless libraries, a topical blog on WLANs, may have outlived its usefulness, and on February 11, 2009, Bill Drew moved all the posts over to his primary blog (BabyBoomer librarian) and left a placeholder to prevent the blogspot name from being used by someone else.
The final post at virtual libraries interact appeared December 30, 2008. In part:
Long time readers of our blog will remember that we started the Virtual Libraries Interact blog back in late 2006 as a sister site to our blog.
Unfortunately due to a number of reasons the Virtual Libraries Interact blog has been languishing for a while and no new posts have been added.
It with some regret, and a tinge of sadness, that we have decided to merge the Virtual Libraries Interact blog into the main blog. Do not worry, all of the content has been imported into the Libraries Interact blog.
Mark Rabnett went missing for a year at Shelved in the W’s—and the returning post, on June 1, 2009, noted his reasons (family illness, new job), noted his return to writing—and decided it was time to change blogs. The shift was apparently just the tonic needed, as the new blog (Gossypiboma) has seen a bunch of substantive, essay-length posts.
Jill Stover signed off on October 22, 2008 with this post at Library marketing – Thinking outside the book. She’d been missing since February 2008—new job, wedding, more—and eventually came to a realization:
While on my little ‘break,’ I realized that I couldn’t devote the kind of time I need to make this blog good while also giving my best effort to my home and work lives. In the quest for work-life balance, this blog and some related projects had to give. Ultimately, I think this blog served the purpose I had in mind for it. I was able to share some of the things I learned about marketing so that it might help others make their libraries a bit better. The content that is here is still useful, I think…
Short and to the point (you’re not required to tell people why you’re shutting down), from Teri Vogel on SD Librarian—the first post since December 31, 2007 and the last post (June 12, 2008):
This blog is no longer being updated. Feel free to unsubscribe from the RSS feed.
As noted elsewhere, “I’m back!” posts can be iffy things. digital.brarian, formerly ‘Brary web diva, went quiet from September 6, 2008 to January 6, 2009 and again from then until this post appeared on July 8, 2009:
I know it’s been a while since I last posted anything significant, but my time and energy was focused on my MLIS.
You may have noticed the name of this blog has changed. (formerly ‘Brary Web Diva)
I left the URLs and feeds unchanged so as not to break a lot of other weblinks about the various posts.
I plan to do some conference blogging while at ALA, wifi permitting.
Of course, it’s only been six months…this may be another pause, not an ending.
Most of this August 9, 2008 post at omg tuna is kewl is about delicious and libraries—but it leads off with this fateful paragraph:
[For those of you who have been waiting with bated breath for my next post, as an FYI, I turned all Luddite and canceled my home internet access. That means I only have my phone for home web access, meaning I won’t be typing lengthy posts very much anymore. Since I’ve been feeling like I have very little to say anyway—writing burnout, I think—I dare say you aren’t missing much.]
Sometimes blogs end because the end was planned from the beginning. So, for example, 101 tips for school librarians (101tips.wordpress.com) posted #101 on April 18, 2008. The project was complete and the blog has remained as a resource.
Alternatively, the venue may change. Beth Gallaway’s May 18, 2008 post at Game on: Gaming in libraries announced that she’d been invited to blog for ALA, and apparently the other contributors to this group blog chose not to carry on. (The ALA blog has since gone dark, at least at the URL provided.)
LibraryChange was an adjunct to Library 2.0: A guide to participatory library services—and the supplemental information apparently wasn’t needed after April 2007 (the final post, October 27, 2007, actually mentions a book signing).
In the case of Library 2.0: an academic’s perspective, the blogger (Laura B. Cohen) retired and so did the blog. It began as an experiment; it ended (but remains available as content).
“jess” at Library Talk posted “So…” on November 2, 2007, noting that the blog—planned as “a community place for ‘library talk’”—never came together as hoped. Given this person’s eight other blogs, this one went quiet, presumably permanently.
Library Zen by Garrett Hungerford was always primarily an adjunct to his LISZEN searchable repository of library-related blogs. The October 26, 2007 post announced a new LISZEN design, and nothing more has apparently been needed since.
Second Life Research Journal concluded on July 5, 2008 with “Talking, looking, flying, searching,” when Margaret Ostrander—who began the blog as part of a library grad school research project—noted the conclusion of the project.
There’s no reason a blogger must tell you they’re shutting down temporarily or permanently; in fact, I’ve tended to prefer not announcing lapses (unless there’s a specific reason to). So, for example:
· The most recent post at booktruck.org appeared January 17, 2008 and offered a brief note and pointer on an article of interest.
· washtublibrarian’s last post, on March 9, 2008, discussed the blogger’s new volunteer work as part of the Project Gutenberg “Distributed Proofreaders” team.
· The final post (to date) on Travels with the state librarian—and the only post after January 22, 2008—appeared December 16, 2008 with the title “The yearly post ;)” and this text: “I apologize for my posting gaps to any who follow this blog!”
· After a final conference report in June 2007, Texadata’s complete set of 2008 posts (all the first full week of March 2008) consisted of…four recipes.
· Slow library was a group blog with an interesting premise—but after what appeared to be a solid start in November 2006, it simply stopped with a September 18, 2007 post, a review of my book Balanced Libraries.
· Christopher Kupec’s weblog shows a brief item on “Overdrive for Mac,” dated December 26, 2008, as its most recent post.
· Josh Boyer discussed “revealing libraries”—live streams of library research transactions, if you could deal with privacy issues—in a December 17, 2008 post at The horseless library: The first post since August 2008, the last one as of November 5, 2009.
· The February 28, 2008 post on Data obsessed discussed a Slate piece on public libraries. Nothing since.
· September 26, 2007, InfoPill: A post on “push and pull.” 27 months and counting…
Blogs conclude, sometimes quietly, sometimes for stated reasons, sometimes because there’s no longer the specific need. For most people who’ve started liblogs, kept them going for at least six months to a year, and found enough readers and links to attain a moderate Google Page Rank, however, the final word is the title of my new book: But Still They Blog.
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