Friday, August 21, 2009

Why I and we do what we and I do

I was recently watching an interview with Anil Dash. Anil, who I've also interviewed recently, is a sort of proto-blogger. He's been running something that's more or less a blog for over a decade now. He's also turbo smart. And he was talking about the term "blogger" and how to call someone a blogger is becoming increasingly meaningless. It would be like calling someone a clothes wearer or phone user: everyone's doing it. A few are doing it on sites like this one, but way more are using Facebook and Twitter, posting updates on what they're up to, what they think, links to things they found interesting. The platforms have become easier, the posts are shorter, but the guts of the operation are the same. We blog, we talk, we post, we update, we write.

A while back, I started tinkering around with Tumblr and created a version of this site there. The user interface is much better than's, you can post more things more rapidly. I'd go so far as to say it's better.

But lately I've sort of stopped doing anything with it. I still Twitter to anyone who wants to read me, I post more personal things to Facebook to anyone who fits a very liberal definition of "friend", but the Tumblr area has become fallow ground even though it's easier.

However, beyond being easier Tumblr is also much more interactive. It's easy to re-post things from other people's Tumblr blogs, the idea of followers is a much bigger deal than on Blogger, there's a ranking for "tumblarity", which is not a word but proposes to be a numerical rating of how popular you are.

I think it's too much. I wonder if I'm now so old-fashioned (I started this blog in 2003) that I want something that could be described as "classical" even though it's remarkably new technology. I want to post things and not really know how many people read it. I want to have comments enabled, provided people aren't jerks, but I don't need any chat function enabled. It sounds horribly arrogant but I really want it to be mostly about me and not about my place in the community of people acting like me.

It dates back to starting this blog in the first place. I started it after Rewind (NPR news/satire show I worked on) got canceled as a means of keeping my writing in shape. Since then I've done a bunch more radio and a bunch more writing but I kept it going as a place where I could just write what struck me as interesting that I wanted to share without the necessary editorial pressures of commercial viability, without worrying about the reception. This clunky old stupid platform, which you'd think Google of all people would have improved by now, is the best way to keep doing that and I don't think Tumblr is.

It's odd to realize that the archaic technology is preferable. Think I'll go buy a printed newspaper now. And an 8-track player.

Here's a monkey who takes care of a baby:



Jennifer said...

Thanks for your thoughts on all of this, John. I found them interesting and it's sparked my own thoughts on what it means to be public with what was once private. And I do consider myself a relatively private person, too. In any case, I do enjoy reading your writing, following your thought train, and just generally keeping a connection with you. You're a splendid writer and an even more splendid human.

jane said...

Where can I get a monkey babysitter???

Aspen Real Life said...

I agree that social media takes me beyond my passion of writing and I often say to hell with it all but in the end I have made a few friendships that make me smile throughout the day.

As I begin to better understand the value of social networking I find it easier to shape it into a helping tool instead of a hindrance.

Global connection is an amazing phenomena and I love to see that people in India and Egypt are reading my blog.

As a side note: we all could use a monkey in our lives!

Enjoy your writing. Will be back.