Remember when everyone was into blogging?

Hey guys, you remember blogs? Man, those were great. I miss them.

Especially today.

Because earlier this morning in the process of cleaning out a bunch of old folders in the dusty and cobwebbed corners of my hard drive, I came across a folder containing my user archive for a long-forgotten web browser. Based on the contents, I think it was created two computers ago–probably when I got the computer that my current computer (which is itself several years old, and about to be replaced) replaced, and just copied all of my user data and files over from the old box so as to make sure I didn’t lose any of the obviously vital information that I apparently didn’t look at again until today. Anyway, I started clicking through the folder, and found a sub-folder containing a great big long list of bookmarks–sites that, 5-7 years ago I visited regularly. Most of it was blogs–holy smokes the blogs. Blogs from the days when Blogger was just exploding, and every family in the ward, every old high school friend, and every bored office dweller with too little to do was creating a blog, posting some pictures, and feeling like the king of the internet because that one post got like, I swear, 9 comments, and none were from your mom.

I used to visit these blogs all the time. I thought they were important! They were maintained by people who thought they were important, too. As I eyeballed the URLs on the text file, I felt a twinge of shame(?) upon the realization that the last time I visited that site was also the last time I thought about the author, and what that says about me as a person. I don’t actually know what it says–I just know that I thought about what it says, and I felt ashamed.

So, in an effort to assuage my unexpected guilt at not paying attention to people I once paid attention to, I pasted URL after URL into my browser, which is something that I really shouldn’t have done, because it just made me even sadder when I discovered that almost all of the sites were gone. Some of them were technically still there, but had not been updated for several years. But most were literally gone, and they’re never coming back.

I know they’re never coming back, because my old personal blog is one of them. So is the one that my wife kept for our family. And the one that my siblings and parents kept for a few years. All gone, forever.

It was just slightly over 5 years ago that I was asked to blog here at BCC. I had a lot of energy back in those days, and my posts were almost always well-received. I loved interacting with people, exploring new topics, trolling people, and fighting with people who trolled me. That has all been on the front end of the blog, though. Behind the scenes, I’ve participated in probably hundreds of conversations–over email, on the phone, and via chat–about how to improve BCC. Sometimes, these conversations involved all of the permabloggers. More frequently, though, these have been discussions between myself and Steve Evans. We have talked about reaching new audiences, about finding new writers, about adapting to a changing internet landscape, and of course about dealing with the trajectory of the bloggernacle.

At some point, about two years ago, I ran out of steam, and discovered that I had lost all interest in talking about Mormonism online. I withdrew from this community entirely, and didn’t visit the site–or any other LDS-themed blog/forum for over a year. A vacation with Aaron and Ronan in England last Spring stoked the fires of interest somewhat, and I resolved to giving BCC another whirl. Upon returning, however, two things happened. First, I found that I am basically incapable of writing a coherent a block of text longer than 140 characters. The rambling, disjointed nature of this post is evidence of this.

It takes so much effort. Ugggghhhhhhhh.

And second, I don’t know anyone anymore. Just like those sites that I used to visit and think were great and important have all disappeared, so have a lot of the commenters and cobloggers that I used to know and love and look forward to reading from. And, like those websites, they’re not coming back, either. Maybe some of them will pop in for bit from time to time, but they’re not coming back–not really. And of course, most of you don’t know me, either. That’s too bad, because I am pretty great, and you’d love me if you knew me. Read my old posts if you don’t believe me.

I always maintained in all the discussions about how to help BCC grow and prosper that Facebook is the great blog-killer. It’s a killer because it panders to our most lazy inner selves. It provides new “posts” every minute of every day, without having to visit multiple sites. It allows would-be authors or bloggers to barf out the idea–raw and undeveloped–onto your timeline instead of cultivating and expanding the thought into a more mature blog post. Most importantly, it killed commenting on blogs, because it’s so much easier to just “Like” things.

Liking something is so much easier than typing out “Nice post” on a blog.

Is there a point to this blog post? No, there is not. I just really wanted to say that.

Comments

  1. Nice post.

  2. Scott B. says:

    lolz.

  3. Where is the “like” button for this?

  4. I only read this because I saw it on Facebook. In fact, I’m viewing it on the Facebook for iOS browser.

    Seriously, though, I miss the heady days of five years ago too.

  5. … and Netflix; why read a bunch of blogs when you can watch an old episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer instead?

  6. Scott B. says:

    ^^Yeah. Wow.

  7. I didn’t even know the bloggernacle was a thing until like 2010. You people are selfish for letting blogging begin to decline right after I got involved.

  8. This is the most important post you’ve ever written in which you said nothing.

  9. Scott B. says:

    Steve, it’s mostly your fault. If you had replied to my chat earlier today in which I said

    “hey man
    remember blogs?
    those were great.”

    Then I never would have written this at all. Even then, I kept thinking as I was vomiting all over the WP text editor that SURELY there must be a point in here somewhere. But no point ever surfaced, and I was left with 8 paragraphs of Nothing so vast that Falkor the Luck Dragon couldn’t out-fly it.

  10. Another Laura says:

    I was even later than Casey in finding the Bloggernacle, and it does make me sad to see all these interesting discussions getting moved over to Facebook, where I find them much less interesting. Alas.

  11. Randy B. says:

    Hey Dave, I know a place where you could hang, and lots of people would know who you are ;)

  12. Emily U says:

    I am a throwback because I still keep up a family blog, and blog maybe 10x/year for EXII. And I do miss other people’s blogs. I also miss friends when they take breaks from Facebook, although I understand the need and have taken breaks myself (I like/hate Facebook, alternately).

    I think you do have a bigger point to your post, if I may write between your lines, which is that it’s quite difficult to keep in touch with people, and our lives are poorer for each lost friendship. At least I feel mine is. I often think about people I’ve known who have moved, or even people who live nearby who I only see occasionally, and wonder how they are. I want to know them, and be there for them, but I usually don’t know how, because phone calls seem too intrusive, Facebook too impersonal, text messages too intimate, and email too businesslike. People are immediately available, but they feel unreachable. I want to be a good neighbor, but in spite of all the technology that makes connecting possible, I don’t know how.

  13. Blogs were “just exploding” 5-7 years ago? Like, in 2007-2009? Um, okay.

    I miss you too, Scott. How come you don’t ever come to Kansas? I mean, besides the fact that it isn’t cool. (Literally, it isn’t. I was rototiling our garden plot this evening, and I was sweating like a pig, and the ground was dusty and hard-packed, and it looks to be another long, hot, dry summer. Seriously, stay where you are.)

  14. Russell, it exploded when Scott joined the bloggernacle and sucked after he left.

    Casey, ask for them to tell you Banner of Heaven stories for your bedtime stories. You didn’t miss a thing.

  15. I think blogging officially died when I realized I get five times the page views by tossing out a bunch of reaction gifs over something I spent hours writing. Luckily I still occasionally feel inspired enough to keep at it.

  16. Yeah, I have failed at it like I have everything else, it is just the one thing I can’t be fired from.

  17. Angela C says:

    2009 was a pretty good year. 2012 wasn’t bad either. People’s attention spans have gotten shorter and yet . . . what was I saying?

  18. yea, blogging was pretty cool

  19. J. Stapley says:

    I listened to the Cheers theme song when reading this post.

  20. Scott B. says:

    RAF–

    I didn’t say blogging was exploding then. I said Blogger–the platform that gave blogs to billions of people in the ward. And yes–it did explode in 2007-ish!

    And to be clear, I’m not talking about the Bloggernacle. I’m talking about blogging more generally, where the author expected to engage with the community after posting some thoughts. It still happens in some places, but it is true that Mormon blogs were decimated by the rise of FB.

    It’s not that there’s anything wrong with that–it’s just that I’m too tired to keep up with what the new internet offers, and I wish I had my fun, small communities–Mormon and otherwise–back.

  21. Scott B. says:

    Stapers,
    The original draft of the post had a reference to Cheers and it’s the eating in it. No lie.

    But I took it for reasons I don’t recall 4 hours later.

  22. Scott B. says:

    Er, “theme song.” Not “it’s eating.”

  23. Angela C says:

    Back in my day, I had to walk to school uphill both ways in the snow. Young whippersnappers these days! (shaking my cane from my front porch)

  24. I too have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. Going back to school has meant that I just don’t have as much time, and I don’t miss it as much as I thought I would. Fall term I’m taking a class that requires me to start a twitter account, and I keep wondering how I can say anything of worth in 140 characters.

  25. I come from the school of thought that the only things worth saying are in 140 characters or less :)

    I love blogs, and aside from the current blogging I do at RationalFaiths (plug plug plug) for many years I wrote daily in a personal blog. After a while I got tired of my voice, then I got tired of the voices of others.

    It is a shame to realize that the connection and sense of community that blogs foster has been all but lost in favor of Facebook and other social media platforms. I find we more talk at each other than to each other anymore. Little caricatures that fit neatly into boxes.

  26. I love blogs and am so lazy that I just have a RSS feed bring it all to me in one URL (I even read scriptures this way – that’s how lazy I am). BCC has saved my faith in cultural mormonism and seriously kept me going at times. Also, whenever I find something interesting I share and note that it is from a blog. Eventually, this will be the ham radio of the internet age but for now, I love the network.

  27. Scott,

    I guess I’m just showing (off?) my age; I feel as though–without any real data to back me up, I admit–the blogging (and Blogger) explosion happened a few years before “2007-ish,” and that by 2008 you already saw people becoming weary of the Bloggernacle and abandoning blogs and comment sections for Facebook and other social media platforms (I got onto Facebook in 2010, and I genuinely felt like a late adopter).

    Speaking of FB, I fully agree with you and Steve have always said about it, especially the point about how it provides us with something new to look at every time we click on it. I have some seriously well-networked friends (folks that were blogging back in the 90s, if you can believe that) who make defenses of FB, as the maximizer of a certain sort of online “aggregation,” only what you’re aggregating is people–their photos, their interests, their daily lives–rather than ideas and arguments, and I can see their point. Certainly if you take a look at the FB sites for several prominent blogs (BCC and Feminist Mormon Housewives, to use just two examples), you can see some enormous amount of community building, the kind of friendly camaraderie and in-jokes which, honestly, only a few blogs that managed to have a large stable of very regular commenters ever were able to achieve. But the cost, of course, is in breadth: the best blogs were like serious, fun, challenging general interest magazines or news shows, throwing out thoughtful stuff which then inquisitive, interested people responded to. Some blogs are still like that…but none, I think (unless I am very wrong about some of the huge Mormon mommy blogs out there) are Bloggernacle blogs.

    I’ve made some efforts to keep away from FB of late, with limited amount of success. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to get my interest in the Bloggernacle back to what it was back in 2004. My main focus now is to get people back to e-mail lists; I run one that has lasted for over ten years, and even though it’s gone through long fallow periods, it’s still there, and that’s an accomplishment in itself, I think.

    (Oh, and by the way, allow me to say “tl;dr” about this comment so no one else needs to.)

  28. Nothing much to add except that hanging out in the UK was pretty great.

  29. Facebook is the blog-killer, and fear is the mind-killer….

    I agree, it has gone downhill, and largely moved to Facebook. Good regular commenters are more rare, and trolls more frequent.

    I treat blogging like a first or second draft of something, essentially crowdsourcing feedback and interest. So far, it’s led to a few articles, a conference paper, and a book contract, so that’s not bad at all.

  30. Scott B. says:

    Ben S,

    I treat blogging like a first or second draft of something, essentially crowdsourcing feedback and interest. So far, it’s led to a few articles, a conference paper, and a book contract, so that’s not bad at all.

    Although the post mostly mentioned comments, I also did say that I just don’t know anyone, including my cobloggers anymore. And your comment here touches on that–BCC’s authors, especially the newer ones–have a decidedly academic or historical bent to them. More paper-y and conference-y. That’s not a bad thing, though, right? Except that it actually is, for someone like me. Of course, not everything is supposed to revolve around or be marketed at me, but the fact is, I’m not an academic. I’m not a Mormon Studies hobbyist. I’m just a member of the LDS Church, and I happened to prefer the previously lawyer-dominated commentary to the academic-dominated commentary.

  31. FB has democratized…in a sense…blogging. It does not require one to be associated with the Mormon Archipelago to get readers or attentions. It has killed the comments, but not blogging. It may have killed the bloggernacle as Scott and I once enjoyed it. The height of my “bloggernacle” interaction overlaps the timeframe that Scott mentions.

    I agree with Scott about the shift in to a more academic BCC. Though I would not want a return to the lawyer-dominated days, much of what we see is less accessible.

    Ben is right about the utility of a blog. Mine is my author website as much as anything else, though I have yet to public much elsewhere.

    Anyways, I have always loved bloggernacle naval-gazing. Some of my favorite discussions and my nastiest fights have come during these discussions.

  32. Interesting the different perspectives here, both of which are entirely true, yet they also suggest entirely different conclusions: Scott writes that FB is a place where people “barf out the idea–raw and undeveloped–onto your timeline instead of cultivating and expanding the thought into a more mature blog post,” whereas Ben says that blogging itself is “like a first or second draft of something.” Ten years ago, the complaint was that blogging was rushed, superficial, and thoughtless, eating up the time of people who needed to be doing serious writing, and that was probably true–but now we say that FB (or Twitter, or whatever comes next) is itself rushed and superficial and thoughtless, and it’s eating up the time of people who might otherwise be doing some serious blogging!

    I’m not an academic. I’m not a Mormon Studies hobbyist. I’m just a member of the LDS Church, and I happened to prefer the previously lawyer-dominated commentary to the academic-dominated commentary.

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone before say that they missed the old (2003-2009 era?) Bloggernacle, when you could throw a brick without hitting at least a couple of lawyers. (Points for whomever gets that reference first.) Do you think that’s a widely held view, Scott? I mean, I guess it might be. I personally don’t find lawyer-speak any more or less likely to engage me than any other intellectual writing, but I suppose it might be true that the law provides a platform for a huge variety of intellectual inquiries, whereas philosophy or theology or history or cultural studies do not. Something to ask Nate about, no doubt.

  33. Scott B. says:

    RAF,

    It’s not the lawyer-speak or legal topics. It’s the lawyer personality. They are funny–they have to have a sense of humor, or they would all have killed themselves by now.

  34. “…when you couldn’t throw a brick…” I mean to say.

    It’s the lawyer personality. They are funny–they have to have a sense of humor, or they would all have killed themselves by now.

    I will inform all the old gang–Nate, Kaimi, Adam, etc.–that they are actually funny forthwith.

  35. Contrary to your opinion- coherent post. I think something else has changed, too. No new info. I find even on that even on facebook or twitter – unless it’s really news worthy – I am not interested. I watch the blogs, boards, etc. of the once thriving bloggernacle and I think we have run out of material. All the secrets have been open, the world isn’t changing, and we aren’t changing it. Pretty soon, we just move on. We have fought every fight, dug every corner, and life keeps moving on. I am glad you started BCC, I still check in, but I see myself fading from the online world, too, after all the world is really amazing outside.

  36. Elsie Kleeman says:

    I’ve lurked here for years. I was a passive participant, but enjoyed the conversations and relationships, even as they were only observed. I almost wish I had participated more.

  37. Fletcher says:

    I still visit dead seriously. Every day. Hoping that there will be another post.

  38. Scott B. says:

    No you don’t, since it doesn’t exist anymore!

  39. Man, I still visit Orson’s Telescope. Every day. Hoping that there will be another post.

  40. gillsyk says:

    Hey Emily U back up at 5/20 6:26pm: I’m with your point about people feeling unreachable even though so available. But sometimes i think you just have to dive in even if it feels awkward (too intimate, too impersonal, too businesslike, …). Anyway, appreciated your articulating the dilemma.

  41. I know it’s a bit twisted, but I miss the heady days of Prop 8. Widespread legalization of same-sex marriage may not have destroyed the family, but it sure has taken the fire out of the Bloggernacle!

  42. rameumptom says:

    I really miss the editorial page of the newspaper. People used to share their well-though out opinions in it, and often engaging in quality rants and ravings that one just does not see on Twitter. Quantity does not equal quality, folks. Now that newspapers are all going digital, we’re left with 140 character op-eds that say virtually nothing – much like what Scott wrote here but in many more characters than needed.
    Of course, I miss real books, stage productions, etc., as well. I guess that quantity and ease of access wins out every time….

  43. I do miss the olden days of 2003-9, when you knew most blogs and commenters. But times have changed.

  44. MikeInWeHo says:

    I miss the old days as well. Facebook groups just aren’t the same. Thanks for the memories, Scott!

  45. I miss those days too…..

  46. …shouldn’t you be studying?

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