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September 22, 2003

The Unbearable Impermanence of Blogging

My title comes from Liz's entry on the way that discussions fade away so quickly and silently from the blogosphere once the topic has scrolled off of the author's main page, creating what she calls a "topic du jour" approach to discussions. I think she's pretty much right; in fact, the only reason I'm writing this entry now is because I realize that if the entry falls into her archives, I'm likely to never respond to it. I've been puzzling over my response to this entry for too long. Perhaps this entry exists only to store Liz's observation in my external memory, hopefully to return to it later when I've had a little sleep and I've built up some momentum on the paper I'm writing.

I'd also point out that Jason's entry on the topic nicely addresses some of the questions on blogging and thinking that Liz raises in her post.

Posted by chuck at September 22, 2003 1:28 AM

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Fortunately, things like Google help keep the old stories alive. My most accessed page on my site is my rant against Home Depot in September 2002. Right now it is sitting at 70 comments and the number of hits to it keeps increasing daily. I also see a lot of hits to other stories I have done and still get a number of comments there as well.

So, I think the whole thing is bunk.

Now - as to why....

A lot of things I post to my site are immediate - Gov Bush telling France to get bent, Michael Moore speaking up at the Oscars.... people want to comment on those news items so they do. But there are plenty of things in life that are NOT immediate: Home Depot still sucks, people still want to hook up their Playstations to the net, or people want to comment on this cheapy Aiptek PenCam SD I wrote about. Those are not newsworthy by any stretch of the imagination.

However, for this lady to gripe because something posted gets a comment or two and then no more... well, sorry! The world moves and things happen. I mean, when was the last time you heard on your favorite news channel about George Washington cutting down the cherry tree? If the world moved in a way she is complaining about on her blog, we would still be getting eyewitness reports about said ex-cherry tree.

Posted by: Randy at September 23, 2003 8:22 PM

I think you're right about certain entries staying around. Oddly enough, my most popular entry is a salsa recipe that I posted in June. Very few people comment on it, but it brings a lot of traffic to my blog.

I think Liz is speaking from the perspective of an academic and hoping to figure out a way to use blogs as a tool for cultivating more sustained discussions. As your comment suggests, blogs tend to focus on the fleeting, everyday things (like news events) which might make blogs less effective for sustained arguments.

Posted by: chuck at September 24, 2003 2:48 PM

By the way, I don't like Home Depot, either. I worked there for 3-4 years, and I'm thankful every time I remember that I don't work there anymore.

Posted by: chuck at September 24, 2003 2:51 PM

Yeah, Liz gets plenty of comments. That's not what she's talking about. Rather, she's concerned that blogging might encourage short attention spans regarding issues that otherwise deserve a longer consideration. And she doesn't mean on her blog alone; she's talking about blogs in general.

Posted by: George at September 25, 2003 9:42 AM

Right, guys, that's what I'm sayin too. Sorry if it did not come off that way.

I don't think blogging does anything more for short attention spans than newspapers do. Or news in general. Most of what we post (with the exception of Home Depot sucking and salsa recipes) is just that - news.

Like the Star Wars kid... I watched, I laughed, I wrote a bit about it on my blog, end of story. Then his parents turned into jerks and I wrote about him again. Haven't since. I haven't written much lately about Gov. Bush, but that does not mean I am not paying attention all the time to what he is doing. I just haven't written anything.

I don't think blogs have anything to do with it. Nor do I really think MTV has anything to do with it either. Looking back on my 36 years, I don't know that I EVER just did one thing. I have always had my brain wrapped around 20 different things at once, and now that I can afford it, my brain is wrapped around 40 different things at once. Yeah, I hop from thing to thing, but doesn't everyone?

Right now I have on my agenda: build slot car track, fix chair, buy power tools, play AoM, play Diablo II, think about food, write code for a microcontroller, finish painting my living room, tear up carpet in the house, retile the kitchen, retile bathroom, clean house.... blah blah blah.

Sorry, I still don't see it.

Posted by: Randy at September 26, 2003 4:57 PM