I’ve watched the blogosphere morph and grow over time; I think I became a regular blog-reader in 2001 or 2002. (I had a blog then, too, but it didn’t last—mainly because I did not think I had anything worth saying publicly; I wanted to get some education.)
You know people’s (only) criticism of Twitter? “I don’t care what someone had for breakfast this morning!” That used to be a not-uncommon attitude toward blogs. “Why would I want to read someone’s journal?” But I don’t remember that attitude lasting long. People saw that blogs could do something powerful. Only, in the beginning, the people around me at least seemed to think that power was almost wholly destructive. Bloggers were ignorant undergraduates who rushed to post their mean-spirited criticisms of things they didn’t really understand.
But things kept morphing. Blogging had its moment when it was credited with taking down Dan Rather of CBS in 2004. That power was destructive, certainly, but it also showed that blogging could be responsible. Bloggers could and would do investigative legwork that vaunted CBS journalists failed to do. Blogging earned some real cred in the public eye.
And now the New York Times says blogs are morphing again. Or waning. Or both.
Small talk shifted in large part to social networking, said Elisa Camahort Page, co-founder of BlogHer, a women’s blog network. Still, blogs remain a home of more meaty discussions, she said.
“If you’re looking for substantive conversation, you turn to blogs,” Ms. Camahort Page said. “You aren’t going to find it on Facebook, and you aren’t going to find it in 140 characters on Twitter.”
Substantive conversation on blogs? People didn’t think so in 2002. Things have changed.
Here, briefly, is what I think: blogs fitting more or less in my portion of the blogosphere are good for 1) pithy devotional or theological (or linguistic!) points, 2) concise cultural criticism, 3) linking to little-known resources, and 4) an occasional article-length argument. Those I put in no particular order. Some blogs can be places of helpful public discussion. But not many, if you ask me.
Still, I’m happy to get comments. I do sometimes wonder who you all are. It’s true what one lady said in the Times article: “Blogging can be a very lonely occupation; you write out into the abyss.”