Who blogs?

Originally published 10 September 2015 on www.boldface.com.au:

Is blogging important these days?

In the early days of blogging (and Wikipedia tells me that blogs emerged and became popular in the late 1990s), it was all about making a statement, building a public persona and getting a following.

And that’s what you did: if you found someone interesting, perhaps because they had the same interests as you – political, creative, community, recreational – you followed them. At the time, it was only the folks most adept at IT who could set up blogs and make them look and read in an interesting way. They also had the ability to source information from other places (I mean other places on the internet) in a way that most mere mortals couldn’t.

A lot has changed since then. Sites like blogger mean that anyone and everyone can blog, at any time. Everyone knows how to find information easily these days for what they’re interested in. The culture has become much more visual, quicker and less word-based.

Over fifteen years since the late 1990s, I think that few people keep personal blogs anymore, that they are rarely kept updated. The idea of keeping a sort of public journal has really been taken over, first by Facebook, and now by Tumblr and Flick and Instagram.

Newspapers and online magazines sometimes call something a blog, but that’s what a blog always was anyways: an online column or opinion piece. So, it’s appropriate that blogs still live on newspaper and magazine websites.

Blogs have really seen a rise, fall and re-envisioning in the business world. All of our websites have a place for a blog; and in fact, a blog is encouraged. It often is seen as a way of making sure the front page of your website is not static. By changing it regularly, it will engage with visitors, and possibly draw more traffic. That’s the theory anyways, and a bit strange, that it doesn’t matter what you say, as long as you’re saying it.

But it does matter what you say, it’s just that people aren’t finding the information in the same way. In this vast web of information, people don’t ‘follow’ the blogs of an individual or company. If they’re looking for specific information, Google will point them to that specific blog (and sadly for the blog-owners, it’s unlikely that the person will take the time to look at any other blog posts).

On this personal blog (as opposed to this blog post, originally on my work website), I’m still a bit amazed about the searches that end up at my blog posts: the most popular one is about buying second-hand clothes in Paris; the second most popular bunch is about eating at the restaurant Geranium in Copenhagen. Meanwhile, I seem to be blogging mostly with food reviews these days, and discovering that some blogs do seem to exist and are followed if they really keep specifically to a particular specific interest.

The other benefit of a blog is that if someone happens to visit someone’s website (perhaps you, dear reader), a blog is a sign that a company or individual writes, and hopefully has something to say, and can demonstrate expertise or interest. It is an additional way that someone can engage with you; it can be a fun place to store and post thoughts; it can be a good way to involve other people in a company (though hiring someone just to write your blogs destroys this point); and can be a good excuse to write (which for writers is a good thing).

Of course, blogs are also often public evidence of intentions not kept, the promise (often in the first blog posts) broken of writing regularly, of being able to ‘keep up with blogging.’

But who can keep up with modern life these days? Rather than looking negatively at the thousands and thousands of truncated blogs, blogs sporadic and blogs not updated, captured on the Internet for everyone to see, we could think, ‘At least we try’.


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