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It Was Dead When I Found It?

November 21, 2008

Three months into my own blog here, a friend sent me the article “Twitter, Flickr, Facebook Make Blogs Look So 2004.” The article was published in Wired a month ago, so not only am I behind the times on mentioning it here, but (as the article proclaims) I’m behind the times in general:

Thinking about launching your own blog? Here’s some friendly advice: Don’t. And if you’ve already got one, pull the plug.

Writing a weblog today isn’t the bright idea it was four years ago. The blogosphere, once a freshwater oasis of folksy self-expression and clever thought, has been flooded by a tsunami of paid bilge. Cut-rate journalists and underground marketing campaigns now drown out the authentic voices of amateur wordsmiths. It’s almost impossible to get noticed, except by hecklers. And why bother? The time it takes to craft sharp, witty blog prose is better spent expressing yourself on Flickr, Facebook, or Twitter.

I don’t know that I’d go quite that far, though I’ll admit that the blogs I’ve come to read most regularly are indeed ones by professional journalists (hardly cut-rate ones, I should emphasize) who augment their fine work for leading newspapers with postings online — I’m thinking of Sarah Weinman’s enviably terrific blog, and Mark Athitakis’ American Fiction Notes, and Short Stack from the editors of the Washington Post Book World. In each of these cases, fans of literature will be enlightened daily by what these critics are offering in terms of news, reviews and insights. 

That said, I’ve been thinking about my own blog here a fair amount — realizing that unlike some of those sites above, I don’t entirely have a focus or a pattern of presentation. I hope that my few regular readers have enjoyed the postings, but I recognize that anyone showing up to the site on consecutive days may be puzzled by the schizophrenic nature of it: North Carolina literature one day, crime fiction the next? a film or two? an event listing? a stray writing exercise? Much as each of these can find a place in my own personal interests, I recognize that any sort of writing is a communication, and I’m not certain that I could define very precisely an audience that I’m aiming to communicate with or hoping to please. Would-be writers? People living in the D.C. area (my current home) and interested in literary events? Or living in North Carolina, where I’m from, and looking for news there? Am I aiming for a local audience or something broader? I’ll admit I didn’t think that through before jumping in feet-first, and especially with the “death of the blog” being proclaimed elsewhere… well, erroneous on Wired‘s part or not, it’s time for some clarity of purpose or else I may find myself drowning in my own words.

To that end, I’m hoping not necessarily to change what I’m doing but to systematize it a little. Last Monday featured an interview with author Nani Power, for example, and this Monday brings another interview with a major player in modern crime fiction (stay tuned — it’s a great interview!); and I’ve got a third talk lined up with another fine novelist. Can Monday become Author Interview Day?

And if that works, what defines the other days? I’m working on it, and hope to regularize things soon — adding an “About This Blog” to the page listings to the right.

Thanks for patience with schizophrenia in the meantime.

— Art

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5 comments

  1. I’m moving to doing just that here at the WC’s blog as well. Systematitize. I think it’s a good idea. I’m interested in who you’re interviewing.


  2. love the post title. as for the wired article, the presumption that one blogs to “get noticed” is probably where the argument derails. it’s hardly a primary outlet . . .


  3. Hey, Laura —
    I think you’re right — and I actually thought about the discussion we had about your blog and the different motivations people have for starting one. I like the idea of having a reader out there that I’m communicating with, but also agree that a lot of it is just helps to clarify and organize thoughts and interests on a personal level. Getting noticed? Well, I appreciate anyone who reads what I write here, but I agree: This isn’t the route to fame and fortune (at least not as far as I can see). :-)


  4. i confess i’ve lost some interest in my own blog mostly because i’m just so busy anymore but i like the fact that, as a writer, it gives me an outlet to express some ideas and observations. my blog is more part virtual notebook, part family scrapbook, and a catch all for shit nobody wants to pay me to write.


  5. oh and i came here through your facebook post!!!



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