About 14,5 Random Thoughts on Blogging and Social Media

I have been blogging on WordPress.com since nearly three years, and I noted the following:

Blogs have a half life. Many decay after 2 years. Blogs I had followed had been deleted, or bloggers had suddenly stopped publishing without notice.

There are tons of single-post-blogs. A user-friendly editor motivates people to get started. But blogging does not take more time than HTML editing. We need time for composition, not for typing.

An important change in personal or professional life often triggers the launch of a new blog. If the change had been mastered successfully, the well might run dry.

You can write the articles you want to write, or you can write what you want to read. Perhaps many hobbyist authors go from the former – introspective-therapeutic – stage to the latter.

Bloggers running blogs of the same age flock together in groups. Groups consist of less than 10 people; everybody reads and comments on the others’ blogs regularly.

WordPress.com is both publishing platform and social network, and it works well because nearly every user is both contributor and commentator.

Nearly all social media have done away with nested discussion threads, and only the first few lines of comments are visible unless you click More. Will WordPress follow suit?

It is hard to resist popular topics, and the hype might not be obvious. Who knew that all things quantum would enthrall the masses?

At the beginning there was the classical website; then there was the blog – configurable to serve any purpose. Now there is a specific platform for images, for long-form texts, and whatnot.

Optimization for mobile devices can makes sites harder to read on PCs. There is no such thing as the integrity of individual web pages anymore.

Web-logging the diary way messes up structure and categories. But  on static WordPress pages organized via nested menus I always look for that signature date information.

Social media fundamentally recalibrated communications; we go asynchronous. A synchronous phone call  feels like an intrusion unless life-altering.

Blogging and social media have revived the art of rhetorics, and I learned a new word: humblebragging. 

Our online repositories are like the human brain: Content needs to be alive: to be revisited, rearranged, and curated all the time to be useful.

You ought to add an image.

The View, 2015-02

32 Comments Add yours

  1. abyssbrain says:

    Nice post. I’m just new to blogging but I generally agree with your observations.

    1. elkement says:

      Thanks – I could also imagine that a new blogger might come to different conclusions. I am a dinosaur re online writing and I had been ‘pseudo-blogging’ to static websites since the past century; so I suspect this has influenced my opinion about (Web 2.0) blogging :-)

      1. abyssbrain says:

        lol, I think that the saying “the more things changed, the more things stay the same” in the context of blogging…

  2. Gary Schirr says:

    Good insight, Elke…

  3. I’m going through a bity of a dry spell myself so some of this is on my mind right now. In my case it’s just that other things have temporarily taken over the time I normally spend on wordpress. My youngest has been struggling with grade 12 chemistry and, so, I was devoting significant time working with her. I then decided it was high time I converted all of my old VHS-C tapes to digital before they became too brittle. I figure I’ll need another week before that’s done and the conversion may well be the subject of the next post.
    Although I have been thinking a lot about vulnerability lately.
    And why so few women get involved in political life.
    And how the two above comments are connected.
    But I digress!
    Just yesterday I was thinking about the “stat” that over 60 million website use it (I found that on Wikipedia). My own guess is that it’s significantly less than that owing to the facts that you already noted–that many sites have just one post or maybe even none, and even more ate abandoned.
    That said, times and circumstances to necessitate change. We go through times when we have a lot to write and also times when other things take precedence. As for me, I just love variety; mixing it up.
    The wind is currently Howling just outside the window here but it’s a relatively warm -3.

    1. elkement says:

      Thanks, Maurice! I think the VHS thing is related – isn’t that another way to ‘curate’ own’s ‘content’? As I said to Michelle below, I sometimes feel writing a ‘research notebook’ – one large, fragmented article or better a collection of links and ideas (in a simple page, no interaction possible) might better suit some of my writing or researching urges. I have actually started doing something like this on one of my other websites. I also believe that publicity and feedback and attention can cut both ways: It may be encouraging but it will impact the way you write.
      I noticed on many blogs (therefore e.g. the comment on rhetorics) that any tiny piece of feeble opinion will be misunderstood and misunderstandings might be amplified by social media. We have all learned in the soft skills psycho trainings forced upon us that the sender is accountable if the message gets scrambled – so people start adding updates to their posts, or follow-up post just to clarify a point and respond to a comment. Although this is excellent training (just as writing of political company-internal e-mail is) it might be more rewarding to just arrange and ‘consume’ your own content in silence and privately.
      But it would be really interesting to know – from big data – why people start and stop blogging; and I am pretty sure some sociology students with a knack for numbers are already working on this :-)

  4. bert0001 says:

    I liked the top of the world view, from first a spring morning, caught on SamSung GT-B7330. I first thought it to be a Trend, but it’s an Omniapro. You are still here … the last one surviving all half lives, will blog forever.

    1. elkement says:

      Thanks, Bert! It was a spring evening :-) I am (humble?)bragging about still using that stone-age phone often – I have considered to dedicate a post to it when I will have used it for five years this summer. The version of IE that come with it can’t run most of the modern websites so it is also rather secure ;-)

  5. Great observations. Let me add a few.

    The quality of a blog – and possibly its endurance – is a function of the depth of exchanges in the comments.

    Some blogs are disguised personally diaries in which bloggers dump their raw thoughts. Some of them don’t get – or perhaps shouldn’t be – read.

    Abandoned blogs feel like cemeteries. They tell a story of life and all of a sudden the person has gone. What has become of them, we wonder?

    Some posts are timeless masterpieces and are for ever.

    1. Joseph Nebus says:

      Yes, I think it’s comments that are the real mark of a blog’s success. It’s not so much about writing, or being read, so much as it is about forming communities, groups of people who didn’t realize they wanted to be together.

      1. I just want to write well, write what I want to read, write for myself, as T. S. Eliot put it – but it’s the comments, the ones I receive and the ones I write to others that feeds the beast. Ego perhaps? Hard to say. It’s easy to forget about community when you live in your head. How do sweet connections get forgotten?

        1. elkement says:

          I agree with both of you, Joseph an Steve! I tend to think blogging works best if you don’t care too much about comments and feedback in the moment you are writing – I feel you notice if people are trying too hard and crave for attention (and other social media are of course even worse in that respect). But in some way you need to factor in community on a subconscious level while writing.

    2. elkement says:

      Perfect additions to the manifesto, thanks :-)

  6. You’ve provided me much to think about Elke. You really forced me to think about the ‘why’ of blogging. And, to be honest, I’m not sure why I do it? Couldn’t I be spending my time more profitably doing other things? I hate to think this is all self-serving and now you’ve got me wondering if what I do is simply humblebragging? I am forced to consider what my blog contributes to ‘value-added.’ A tough metric indeed. D

    1. elkement says:

      Don’t worry, Dave! ‘Humblebragging’ has a distinct meaning: it is twisted rhetorics and I don’t think you are prone to that. I can’t say it better than http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=humblebrag :

      “Subtly letting others now about how fantastic your life is while undercutting it with a bit of self-effacing humor or “woe is me” gloss.”

      “Uggggh just ate about fifteen piece of chocolate gotta learn to control myself when flying first class or they’ll cancel my modelling contract LOL :p #humblebrag”

      I think Facebook is the social network that helped cultivating the art of humblebragging most.

  7. Peter Mander says:

    Thank you for this engaging post Elke. Lots of excuses given for stopping, but not so many reasons for continuing, which is your forte. I put my own perseverence down to the fact that I have an agenda about reviving interest in classical thermodynamics. Do you also have an agenda, would you say?

    1. elkement says:

      ‘Do you have agenda?’ Thanks for the question, Peter! Perhaps not a planned more, but I think an agenda has silently evolved. I started out blogging about all kinds of science (quantum theory etc.) and I mulled about other people’s philosophical books and big ideas… but finally my subconscious blogging me has decided to focus more on stuff I have some personal relation to and hands-on experience with: Our heat pump systems, things I work on, my personal encounters with Google… My comment about the subtle hype you might want to contribute to without recognizing was related to all this.

  8. Michelle H says:

    First, I love your header image of the wind turbines! Second, I agree with your observations. I’ve noticed our small group is drifting away, and I find myself wondering what each is doing and how things are. I might be a while getting back on WordPress to do my own posts. It’s a combination of renovations and having hit a point of departure from the research to begin writing now. I finished and submitted one story to a literary journal a few weeks ago, and I have some other stuff in process.

    It took me almost two weeks to clear my inner blogging voice from my head and transition back to other types of writing! I’m afraid to get back on line and disrupt the creative flow!

    1. elkement says:

      ‘The blogging voice’ is an interesting idea, and I can relate to this! Although I like the challenge to deliver a self-consistent and ‘stand-alone’ piece (… and polish it… and edit it… you would not believe how much I cut…) I often would enjoy starting a lose collection of thoughts, ideas, or links (more like a research notebook) on one large ‘page’ that can then grow forever via tiny additions… and I would not care about repetitions. In a sense, I started doing so on one of my other websites. I have recently found the most awesome ‘article’ on sleep research, which is actually more of a free ebook in HTML format – and this article has been written like that: http://www.supermemo.com/articles/sleep.htm. The author calls this method ‘incremental writing’.

      1. Michelle H says:

        That’s amazing… I didn’t think anyone posted like this online now. I remember back in the day, everything looked like this. And I remember that reading on-line felt a lot like reading from paper, except for the computer screen. Things have changed!

        1. elkement says:

          Yes, and I think that page gets quite a number of hits… the author often mentions in this article that people with sleep problems find his page when searching for things like Delayed Phase Sleep Syndrome etc. I know some other pages of scientists whose – very popular – pages are also still plain old HTML.
          I think it is cool that search engines still seem to appreciate true content as long as it updated regularly (as all these pages I have in mind are)

          1. Michelle H says:

            I’m also amazed at how many hits I still get on my site, despite having removed it from search engine indexing. This has been an interesting experiment on the resiliency of a blog, or Why Blogs Can’t Be Killed. I might need to resurrect it again, and try to measure the efforts of resuscitation needed to revive the poor thing.

          2. elkement says:

            I conjecture that marking a site as not-to-be-indexed does not make search engines clean the existing pages from the index?
            I am still cleaning out the traces from the spammy pages (after the Nov. 2014 hack) manually despite I used all possible options to disallow indexing.

          3. elkement says:

            Too fast… forgot to mention: If you really want to keep search engines out you could claim ownership of your blog in Webmaster Tools and manually delete the pages from the index.

  9. I agree with you so much on this blog post. I’ve been blogging for about 1.5 years and I can relate to what you are taking about especially about blogging being a social media platform and social network.

    1. elkement says:

      Thanks – and keep up the good work :-) I really do hope WordPress will keep that balance… and not turn into the next LinkedIn/Facebook (… now that LinkedIn is also a blogging platform)

      1. You’re welcome. Thanks and I hope so too :)

  10. Hi Elka, I’m certainly someone who stopped blogging without notice (since last June) and I can think of many excuses. But I think it boils down to focussing on where I want my visual art to go next. I’m pretty sure I’ll write again.

    1. Hi Steve, good to see you around. Like your art, I guess, your blog remains great even if you don’t write new posts.

      1. Thank you. I have about twenty draughts patiently waiting for me on WordPress. I’ll be back.

      2. elkement says:

        I agree with geneticfractals – your art blog is more a collection of timeless, carefully crafted pieces. I think if you write longer articles and if don’t try to churn out several posts per week (this was more the type of blogs I did my ‘statistics’ on) then chances are higher that your blogging will be resumed after an alleged break.

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