Browsing this morning, I caught up with the fact that Club Troppo and Larvatus Prodeo had formally withdrawn from the Domain collective. I have added the relevant links to ANZ, IBM & freedom of speech; I think that this post now has enough links that anybody who wants to can trace the whole saga through.
As I read the CT and LP statements, I thought that some sense of proportion had been lost in the gold fish bowl. I also felt a degree of sadness and even slight tarnish as a blogger. There are no winners in this one.
As it happened, I had to go to Newcastle yesterday. On the long train trip I wrote notes on the changes that I had seen in the blogosphere since I started posting in March 1996. I was doing this for my own reasons as part of my review of my own blogging and writing activities. However, this also set a mood for my subsequent reading of the CT/LP material.
I may bring yesterday's material up as a full post independent of my own blogging review. Most readers won't share my great interest in blogging matters. However, the changes are interesting for those of us who take a professional or, at least, keen amateur interest.
The patterns are also interesting for what they tell us about interactions within the media environment, about the way new forms cannibalise old ones. Twitter is presently doing to Facebook what Facebook previously did to blogging!
Blogging has aged, has fragmented. The sheer joy and excitement that those of us felt who first became involved in the medium in its early days has largely gone.
Looking back, I can remember that excitement. I can remember the joy of meeting new friends, of new groups. Looking back, the landscape is littered with people and groups I once knew who have moved on. I still remember them because of their place in my life.
In a comments' exchange with Legal Eagle, a blogger from that period, I mentioned the Blonde Canadian, a blogger who was neither blonde nor Canadian. BC has long gone from teaching, she was obviously a great teacher, into a broader world. As she did so, she withdrew from blogging. Now she remains frozen in my mind, a friend from a past period.
Since Legal Eagle threw off her disguise and became Katy Barnett, then PhD student and now law lecturer, people refer to her by name. To me, she is still Legal Eagle as well. I knew who Katy really was through Facebook, but in public she was LE.
As LE, she introduced me to Blond Canadian and the Junior Lawyers Union, a group of junior lawyers working in big city law firm who cast an acerbic eye on management. They provided the case study material for my depression series. Long gone, they remain fixed in my memory.
If blogging has aged and changed, is is still worthwhile? Yes is the short answer.
I was reminded of this only this morning.
In January 2010 I wrote a post, New England Motor Company - Lismore. This morning, over twelve months later, I received a comment suggesting someone I should talk to who knew about these things. It was someone I should have remembered, but had forgotten. This type of feedback happens all the time.
If blogging is still worthwhile, I have to work out how to respond to the changes.
While I was careful in what I said in the on-line opinion matter, I reacted quite strongly because I saw the key protagonists actually damaging blogging in one key area of the blogosphere. In their absorption with their own concerns, the rightness of their respective positions, they lost sight of broader issues.
I accept that this is a partial and imperfect position. If you follow the various comment threads through, you can see how issues were clarified and positions resolved. You can see how positions of personal principle and values were expressed and upheld. But, at the end of the day, the personal won out to the detriment of the principles. Defence of position became dominant.
I recognise that I am open to attack here. With time, I think that the case may become important as the emotion drops away, leaving the principles more exposed and open to discussion.
Despite the low income I receive from blogging, I really am a professional blogger.
Measured by frequency of posts and certainly words, I may well publish as much as Club Troppo and Larvatus Prodeo, maybe as much as both combined. My traffic is far less, but then I serve different purposes and different markets.
I also try to think constantly about what it means to be a blogger, about the audiences I try to reach, about the principles I should follow. Here I am often conflicted and confused; that is one of the issues I am trying to resolve.
It may seem pretentious, arrogant, to argue to bloggers that are far more successful than I am measured by audience reach, that are names in a way I am not, that they have lost sight of the plot. Still, I would plead to them to leave immediate issues aside, to stop defending their own brands, but instead focus on the principles and issues involved.
Blogging has become professional. We have to deal with this.