The Last Days of Blogging

Mabel, pack up the kids. We’re outta here.

Okay, not really. But this was nonetheless my first reaction when I picked up the USA Today left on my hotel room doorstep this morning.

Right on the first page, below the fold, is the following headline and subhead:

FREEWHEELING ‘BLOGGERS’ ARE REWRITING RULES OF JOURNALISM
Objectivity? Not here — and the masses eat it up

Why am I so unnerved by the discovery of blogging by USA Today? Why does it seem so much like a harbinger of doom for the form? Undoubtedly there’s some elitism not-so-buried in my response, some vision of the AOL-ification of blogging, but it feels like there’s something more than that, too. Something that has to do with the annoying interpretations of blogging that the article puts forward.

Such as:

Bloggers get their name from Web logs, a new form of publication on the internet. A blog is a cross between an online diary and a cybermagazine, aggressively updated to draw readers back. Just a few years ago, blogs were relatively rare. Now there are millions. They’re devoted to every topic imaginable, from knitting to dating to homelessness. But those who have had the most impact write about politics.

Is it true that those bloggers who write about politics “have had the most impact,” or is it simply that politics captures the mainstream media’s attention in a way that little other subject matter does? I also have to wonder where on the “knitting to dating to homelessness” scale this site falls. Are blogs of necessity either about politics or about silly personal matters?

As for the updating of this site — well, I’m leaving San Diego today, headed back for a couple of weeks of quiet in Claremont before the start of the spring semester, so I’ll hope to be posting more aggressively(?) in the coming days.

6 thoughts on “The Last Days of Blogging

  1. You might want to check out the exchange on impact, politics and blogs at

    Chuck Tyron’s entry “Blogs That Matter” Dec 03/03

    http://chutry.wordherders.net/archives/001137.html

    There are some interesting comments about the quotidien and political activity that perhaps gives the lie to the USA today article quoted in the entry entitled “The Last Days of Blogging” at Planned Obsolenscence. Aren’t apocalyptic scenarios just so circular? *wink*

  2. Ok, so you’re the USA Today reporter; how would you explain to your audience what a blog is?

    And while it seems to bloggers that absolutely everyone is blogging or reading blogs, a few days ago, I saw a couple of friends who spend hours online a day and didn’t know about blogs.

  3. Don’t worry. USA Today had an article about Salam Pax several months ago, and that didn’t seem to kill blogging. I think we’re safe.

    But now I can’t shake the image of a blogging-style Studio 54 (a la “Last Days of Disco”).

    I also get frustrated with these mainstream articles that characterize blogging in such narrow ways, but I really do believe that we’ll be able to define blogging however we want through the communities we create and the blogs we keep.

    Really enjoyed meeting you at MLA, Kathleen, and looking forward to SCMS.

  4. Ah, I’m so pleased you caught the reference, Chuck. Despite knowing on some rational level that the comparison is flawed — the USA Today article won’t kill blogging, even if everybody’s grandmother were suddenly to pop up on Blogspot tomorrow; what killed disco was less its popularization than the ravages of drugs and disease, not to mention the incipience of yuppie culture; it’s not exactly as though I’d make it past the bouncer at the blogosphere’s Studio 54 — I nonetheless had the sense, on seeing the article, of having been involved in something during its inexplicable prime, and of watching the beginning of the end.

    Ogged, I’m not at all sure how I’d define the form. I’ll probably take the easy way out here and advert to Jill’s definition, which seems to me to convey a far greater range than “knitting to dating to homelessness,” an understanding that many of the most prominent blogs (Kottke, anyone?) aren’t political at all, and a greater sense of the community that blogging can build.

    Of course, whether any of that can be conveyed in the paucity of USA Today’s column-inches is seriously open to question.

    And Francois — circularity indeed. But not insularity, I hope. (And welcome back, by the way. It’s been a while since I’ve seen you around these parts…)

  5. KF-

    Catching a brief moment or two of the CBS News’ report about the ipodsdirtysecret.com guys, one of them referred to the iPod battery’s imminent failure as “planned obsolescence.” I suppose the blogs (or just you) HAVE gotten too big. Time to go underground.

    On a related note, I’m headed to New Orleans tomorrow morning to catch the big game (not in the Superdome, alas, but on a television somewhere) and (hopefully) the revelry to ensue. Wish me luck, have a safe new January, and I will see in you in a couple of weeks.

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