Time to Get Back to Blogging?

There is something that I have always liked about blogging. I like the feeling of having my own space on the Internet, my own URL and my own ability to format and post and share things. I like that blogging is public because it commits me to a measure of seriousness, but at the same time it is a style and format that lends itself to a certain informality. Screens always feel like they involve less commitment than the printed page.

Blogging, I suppose, is like a front yard—a publicly facing privately-managed space. I started Museum Fatigue on a whim because I wanted a place to share select photos, interesting tidbits, and partially-masticated ideas. I wanted to plant some seeds in my yard, perhaps add a few trees or shrubbery, lay out a slew of kitschy yard ornaments, hang a bird feeder or two, and then sit in a hammock slung between two trees to wait for those who might walk by. They are also fun to hang out in with friends and neighbors for a BBQ or a beer. Yards, of course, have weeds, plants die, seasons change.

Space-shuttle shaped gas station. Nanjing, China. 2018

From 2010 to 2014 I was actively posting on this site and enjoyed sharing a variety of content. Museum Fatigue was my yard and I didn’t care who visited or how many people liked or shared my posts. Everyone wants to be read, of course, but for me this site was mostly a place to get ideas out of my head and into the world. It was fun to see total strangers stop by to discover and engage with various posts. Often, the posts that I thought were most interesting weren’t even ones that got many visits. (To date, the most popular post is one I made about an exchange with an automated telemarketer!)

Since becoming a father back in early 2015, however, time for blogging has been hard to carve out of my busy schedule. I have missed it. From time to time I have pulled up the posting menu on WordPress and started to write a new post, only to set it aside unfinished for months. The few posts I have made in the past few years have taken much effort and haven’t been too satisfying.

 

I’ve been yearning for a reset—a way to find new energy for blogging and to get back the fun that I had back when I first started posting on Museum Fatigue. I’ve wanted to plunge back in to adding to this site, but the weight of many months and years of relative silence have become a burden—as if new posts need to be that much more impressive because I have waited so long to write them.

Social Media Postures. Hong Kong Airport, 2018.

Finally, however, I think my reset rationale as arrived!

Yesterday an interesting post by Jason B. Jones at ProfHacker titled Time for Blogs Again? popped up in my newsfeed. I read it with great interest and it really spoke to some of my own feelings about blogs and blogging. In the post Jones shares observations about how social media—Facebook and Twitter—have “colonized” (my word, not his) other forms of online existence. Jones also summarizes some points made by Dan Cohen in an interesting post titled “Back to the Blog.”

There is no need to summarize their posts here as folks who are interested should read them in their entirety. The takeaways for me however were compelling. I was reminded that having a domain of one’s own is valuable and that, in Jones’ words, “since social media has increasingly seemed like a battleground rather than an intellectual commons, maybe it is a good idea for everyone to shift back to blogging.” The force of the idea of “re-decentralizing” the web for me is particularly powerful as I am old enough to remember the heady days of the early web when we were coded our own simple HTML “homepages” and the idea of sharing information globally was going to change the world. Advertisements back then were simple GIFs and the worst thing that could track you online was a cookie.

Reading their posts about blogging reminded me how much I once enjoyed writing blog posts—and how often in recent years a Facebook post or Tweet has taken a good idea for a modest-sized blog post and “wasted it” for a brief few likes from people I already know, only to disappear in Facebook’s feed never to be seen again. Facebook posts fade away with some modest feedback. Blog posts can be a bit more exciting because you don’t know who will discover them or when! I have come to realize that many of the things that I’ve posted on Museum Fatigue have actually stayed memorable over the years in ways that simple social media shares do not. Certainly, as I wrote here a while back, Facebook has always frustrated me because the content that I feed it is unsearchable and difficult to access after it has slipped down into the past.

Anyway, after reading Jones’ “Time for Blogs Again?” and Cohen’s “Back to the Blog” I’m thinking maybe I should give this a try again. I certainly miss it. I’m just not sure I can find the time. Maybe I’ll just take it easy as I start back and see if it takes.

Four lefts. Four rights. One Car. Nanjing, China. 2018.

3 comments

  1. Thank you for writing this and I certainly hope it works. About six months ago, before the Facebook data scandal, I drafted something on paper that was going to urge anthropologists to “Exit Facebook” and get back to blogging. I wasn’t able to post it, but your writing is a nice encapsulation. I got a chance to send a small part of that message in the Editors’ Note for Enough: Anthropologists Take on Gun Violence: ” Rather than blogs, more anthropologists seem to be doing ‘micro-punditry’ on Facebook or Twitter.”

    But, as you say, blogs become a huge time commitment that can seem like a rabbit-hole. Still, hope it works!

    Like

    • “Micro-punditry”—I like that term! It is so descriptive and so nicely captures the sad and ineffectual waste of time that such posts represent. So much time and effort gets spent in the exhausting activities of posting, liking and bantering on Facebook and Twitter—to a community of people who are mostly connected as “friends.” I see colleagues trying desperately to have “serious conversations,” but the format just doesn’t lend itself for depth because within a day or two the post slides away into the timeline and is difficult to access. Blogs offer more opportunity for length and detail. And, because they persist in an open format they can be revisited, linked to and referenced.

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      • Thank you for the comment! I definitely agree, and also agree with your thoughts in the post on the general non-searchability of the threads, especially on Facebook. It would be interesting to compare the admittedly considerable time it takes to compose a blog-post (and blog maintenance) versus the time of micro-punditry. The advantage to the micro-punditry is that you can do it in little bursts throughout the day, whereas a blog-post requires more dedicated time.

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