Warren Ellis posted today on his morning.computer blog about his search for some widget or combination of tools that would, and I am paraphrasing, give him the functionality of some of the old-school blogging sites. As a long-time LiveJournal user, I remember the charming status/mood boxes and the way the site acted more like an online diary than anything we see these days.
Jenny Lawson, the Bloggess herself, took time out to ask people to link their blogs as a show of support for this fading and/or resurgent form of expression. She was spurred to do this by an article discussing writers returning to blogging after having moved on to other things.
[In this space I wrote a plausible explanation for why blogs evolved into social media and how the growing ubiquity of having an online presence changed the nature of what people wrote online, but it wasn’t what I wanted to discuss today, so I’m saving it for later. You’re welcome.]
It’s something that’s been on my mind as well. The old LIveJournal blog model was more suited to personal expression than anything social media has to offer (and I understand that this was not an unmixed blessing). It was, at least for me, a way to share a lot with a limited audience which I could control (privacy tools were much, much better than anything Facebook offers) as opposed to sharing a facet of a persona that has to be somewhat curated in the event that a future employer stumbles across it.
I really do miss the silly quizzes, the proto-memes, the just sitting down and writing about what I’m doing and feeling right now. I feel like this is part of whatever it is that both Ellis and Lawson are describing. The “status page”, which in the wrong hands (say, mine) would be horribly self-indulgent but could also be a lot of fun.*
In fact, I’ve been messing with that a little. Over on Fill In The Blank, I made of list of “facts about me expressed as musical genres”, which ticks both the “self-indulgent” and “fun” boxes. At least, it was fun for me. I’m less convinced that it’s of any interest to a general audience but that is precisely the difference between old blogs and social media, isn’t it? It’s the audience, and the awareness thereof.
Anyway, this is more of a “Wow, there are things about the old way that were pretty cool” post than a prediction that blogging will be a big thing. Even if it were to become more popular, the lay of the land is so different now that I don’t think it would ever serve the same function. So it goes.
* Way back in the early days of email, the company I was with used an messaging platform called GroupWise that was dodgy as hell, but it had these marvelous template which could be customized to a dangerous degree. I built my own that had drop down lists for my current mood, what I was listening to, and other highly unprofessional things of that sort.
I remember teaching one of our newer employees how to build a template, but instead of creating her own, she changed the company default template and added some highly inappropriate features to it. I don’t remember how we weaseled out of that one, but I was with the company for another ten years, so the cover story must have been convincing.