There is an interesting thread on Techrhet about blogging that began with the eternal question, where have all the bloggers gone? An interesting question, and this time, after almost ten years of hearing variations on this theme, it may be time to actually ask it. Once, blogging was the main deal, the only game in town for social software. It was more interactive, more flexible than the home page or the webring. Starting one was so easy–no HTML needed. People who wanted to make it more complicated could, and heaven knows I did with my own Drupal install, but for most people, getting started was as easy as registering, picking a design theme, filling out a text box, and clicking the “post” button.
It’s not the only game in town anymore. Former bloggers who tended to only post links have moved in droves to Twitter. Ones who used to obsessively read friends’ blogs and pass along memes are doing quizzes and playing Farmville on Facebook. You’ll find me in both of those places too (Well, not Farmville), but for me, nothing replaces blogging. It’s both my cigar box full of found objects and the place where I can collect and stream out long thoughts that take time and space to develop.
On Techrhet, Nick Carbone shares an image from Mark Twain of rooms set aside for travelers to journal in, and how at first the desks are full, but one by one, all but a few hardy souls fall away. When it comes right down to it, writing for the long haul is hard. Not everyone can do it, or as Rilke points out in Letters to a Young Poet, the question should not be whether or not a person has what it takes to be a poet. The question should be, can you live and do anything else? If you can, then being a poet, being a writer, is not the life for you. Blogging is like that. For the ones who stick with it, they do it because they can’t imagine not doing it.