On Blogs

I often feel nostalgic at the end of every year. Not for what I did this year, per se, but it’s just a natural time for me to think about a lot of things, some of which are themes that attract themselves back into the front of my brain.

Assuming that’s where fresh thoughts are to be found? Who knows.

When I wrote my book RSS for Educators in 2006 (and subsequently was published in 2008), Blogging was a big deal for people like me. I knew many web designers had started the trend, and the best example of the time (and maybe the best example still, in 2022) is Jason Kottke. I visited his site and liked how it was organized in reverse chronological order. His design skills were good and his site didn’t look like anyone else’s. Today he’s famous for being one of the only full-time bloggers and has been blogging continuously since before 2000.

Jason and I have never met but I’ve always had an affinity for him; our interests don’t precisely overlap, but he’s the same age as me and it was cool to find someone doing what he was doing, especially when it was new and untamed.

It’s 2022 and I have four books in development. I trained as a music composer in college and loved making music. Even though I’m a bad viola player, just picking up that instrument for ten minutes and sawing away is such a delicious thing for me to do. To some degree I like writing in a very similar way to writing notes on paper; it’s in the workshop of creative ideas I tend to really thrive. As I investigate book editors (for fiction), publishing advice, and agents, it feels so old. What’s stopping me from publishing my work online with a few copy/pastes then a click?

The world still works in well-established circles. Today I watched a portion of the NY Times best books of 2022. The Webbys hardly talked about anymore, but the NY Times Book Lists are not. I got to what, #2 or #3 in the video? And I was so happy to see Stay True got onto their list. The book by Hua Hsu is a book that resonated with me in deeply emotional ways. So emotional, in fact, that when they announced his book and started talking about it I started to cry. As much as part of me would like to see everyday individuals take the world by storm with their ideas, stories, and thoughts through blogs, I also appreciate the stories like Mr. Hsu’s getting the attention it has through traditional publishing.

Christmas Cards

This year I received a Christmas card from an old colleague who wrote in the margin: I just reread your blog post. It’s still relevant today. Hmm. For someone who has blogged in multiple places, and is more absent minded than I used to be, I at first didn’t know where she’d found it. I had to search my own archives. Then that feeling came over me as I read it. It’s not bad, actually. I don’t remember writing this, but clearly I did. And someone just read it.

I am not going to link to the post. My point isn’t to drive more eyes to the post. It was focused on a particular time and place. It touched upon my own feelings about leaving one position after being in one place for likely two-thirds of my professional career, at least the one in education. The re-read reminded me of who I am, what I believe, and how maybe I’ve forgotten some of that, just as I’ve forgotten I wrote it in the first place.

Diaries are not new and some treat blogs as diaries. Which is to say in the social milieu of even more media today than we had in 2006, I still think blogs are relevant. As long as the web servers keep running, the blogs keep getting served, if you know how to find them. Few are as entertaining as TikTok or YouTube, but at least in one case, I’m not sure blogs are being accused of spying on you and the such.

I likely am not going to publish my books in blog format. I want the same wide audience as Hua Hsu, even though my book(s) aren’t likely as profound as his. I’m not aiming for the NY Times Top Ten list. I do want to touch people, educate people, and yes, move people. I had that aim as a young(er) music student. And I still subscribe to that aim as a writer.

To anyone who has read what I wrote, thank you. Receiving just one message that something I wrote was read and resonated with someone means so much to me, profoundly so.

Blogs aren’t as accessible as Twitter or Facebook or Snapchat but they do allow just about anyone in the free-world to publish. While I still believe in their power as a transformational tool to help educate others, I don’t think they’ve been fully exploited. I am hoping I am right. Just as we’ve seen of late a renaissance in podcasting, I expect too we might get one with blogging. Money will follow. Attention will follow.

As for resolutions, I still plan to do indulge in my vices. But I think it’s time I reacquaint myself with the joys of blogging. Happy 2023.

N.B. (And if you haven’t read Stay True, which I am guessing you have not, I have an affinity for the author in a similar way that I’ve had with Jason Kottke. While he was a few years younger than me, reading a book about college life in the 1990s was intensely real. As a musician, I was discovering new music at almost every third page, which shamed me for never listening to the radio once I got to college(!).) Go mixtapes, go zines! Go blogs!

Categorized as essays