Wednesday, June 10, 2009

When Bereft of Blog Post Ideas...

... blog about why other people gave up blogging.

But seriously, the New York Times ran an article a few days ago about why people give up blogging. It's definitely worth the peek if you're looking for some good reading material.

The story mentions the following as possible reasons that blogs go quiet or die:

  • Disappointment over the failure to build a large, loyal audience.

  • Increasing difficulty in maintaining anonymity with the rise of social networks.

  • Decreasing availability of free time.

  • Migration to other forms/media, like Twitter.

  • Depletion of ideas.

This topic is of interest to me on two fronts.

First of all, the decline of activity in my own blog has been rehashed over the past year. For me, free time and ideas shortages have been the biggest drains on blogging output. While I still take a peek at the Sitemeter and Google Analytics stats for this blog, I've never had the illusion that I'd build up a huge audience. I don't think this site ever saw more than 100 visits a day, even when the storyline was at its peak level of tension.

Comments always have been welcome. Accumulating a large quantity of them never was a hope, but along the way I accumulated a blogroll and network of friends with whom I could share the parts of my life that I wasn't ready to discuss with others. These days I look upon this blog not so much part of a real-time conversation as an archive of one person's experiences with a series of trying times at the end of the 30s. It's a story far too obscure to be worth a movie, but it's also worth sharing.

And then there's the other front... I've noticed over the past year that activity of most of the blogs on my RSS reader waned. Some have moved on because their blogs outlived their usefulness. Others have disappeared with vague references to anonymity breaches. A few others have gone private, with invitation-only.

A couple of years ago, if I didn't make an effort to read new content on my feeds, after a few days, the backlog would get so large that I would have to "declare bankruptcy" and hit "mark all as read". Now I can go a full week without touching the feed reader, and I can still keep reasonable pace.

I've blogged about the notion of a social graph before. It's the representation of relationships between people, expressed as a mathematical abstraction that's used extensively in computer science. The blogosphere, both via blogrolls and RSS feed subscriptions, give evidence to pieces of the social graph. Some are hubs, with lots of incoming and outbound links. Others are less connected.

Visualized, the set of nodes to which my blog belongs is looking very much like a the seed head of a dandelion. With the passage of time, the seeds drift away from the flower. And so, the nodes fade on this cluster of the graph. For now, I am reluctant to let loose into the free and open blue that is the sky... not while there are still other posts to read and conversations to be had.

So now I'm goin' back again,
I got to get to her somehow.
All the people we used to know
They're an illusion to me now.
Some are mathematicians
Some are carpenter's wives.
Don't know how it all got started,
I don't know what they're doin' with their lives.
But me, I'm still on the road
Headin' for another joint
We always did feel the same,
We just saw it from a different point of view,
Tangled up in blue.

-- Bob Dylan, "Tangled up in Blue", Blood on the Tracks

Cue that harmonica coda.
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