Let’s put some context around this. I’ve been blogging for six years now so clearly I do love blogs and I am of the opinion that they provide a much-needed service, as a place of self-expression, as a way of getting all kinds of creativity out there and as a community for quiet bookish types to come together and have those book discussions they want. So, I certainly don’t want blogging to go away, I don’t even want it to change. But as the years roll by I suppose I become more aware of the drawbacks to this medium. Particularly as Ben and I are considering resurrecting my old site, Best of New Writing on the Web, and I’m starting to try to get a feel for what’s out there and to source new, interesting writers.
1. The thing is, the web rewards energy and dedication, but not necessarily quality. There may be all kinds of excellent blogs out there, but how do I find them? It’s quite likely such bloggers will post less often, which means near invisibility. You can find the bloggers with big community spirit, and that’s nice. But literary quality, quirkiness, the rare and unusual gems, believe you me, they do not float to the surface.
2. Because there is just SO MUCH out there. When I first began blogging, I couldn’t know everyone with a book blog, but it felt a lot more manageable. Now the field is so vast it is completely overwhelming. No single voice can be heard.
3. The web now reminds me of London – everything you could possibly want is there but it takes so darn long to get around it that I give up easily. The time! The time! I cannot believe how much time it takes to visit just the people I know, let alone trawl for others. I do not know how people with facebook and twitter accounts also blog. Where do they find the time to do it all?
4. And yet the familiar faces go. So many of the people I got to know and call friends over the years are no longer blogging, or blogging far less. And of course, this is right, as life must always take precedence over blogs. But it’s not like you can make the effort to go and call on friends who have moved away – once out of the virtual window, the blogger is a lost soul. It’s a shame, in its way. And you have to find the energy to keep making new friends.
5. The web breeds suspicion. Or at least it does with me lately. I can’t get my head around this new ‘like’ button. I always click through to check out the blogger and sometimes I wonder whether it is a spam site, or an author trying to sell their book (which of course is not the same as spam and editors make authors do it, so no criticism is implied, poor authors have no choice these days). I am very sorry if I have missed perfectly legitimate bloggers this way, but it is so hard to assess someone without a real comment. Oh and I should say I HAVE found nice blogs this way – I’m just not comfortable with my own mistrust, or the time it takes to satisfy it.
6. So this is the main issue with relation to my own blog: blogging is so dreadfully susceptible to entropy. You have to throw a lot of energy at a blog just to keep it standing still. If you take a break, on your return disproportionate amounts of energy need to be rallied to get back to where you were. It’s no wonder people give up. It’s no wonder good blogs are hard to find.
I don’t wish to whine here, just to look at what’s problematic about the blogworld, now it has reached such epic proportions. It’s like this enormous city with so many people crammed in that there is no room for street names and sign posts, and navigating around it is extremely hard work. I’m so glad blogs exist, and I think they have a very valuable purpose. I just wish there were a better way to surf the endless possibilities of the net.