Friday, March 11, 2011

Rebuilding the blogging village

Yesterday, I finally got the study in the new house to the workable point. The move this time has been remarkably disruptive over several weeks to the point that it completely derailed everything else. I completely lost track of some things. I'm still struggling to get any momentum back.

One sign of getting older is the way book boxes seem to have got heavier. We have a lot of books in the house, and seem to be adding more all the time. That makes for a lot of book boxes!

Good to see Neil Whitfield (Ninglun) back home after his hospital stay.

Yesterday I referred to Pauline Hanson's latest bid for a parliamentary seat. In Pauline Bloody Hanson again! Neil expresses his annoyance. Leaving politics aside, Ms Hanson is an interesting case study in minor celebrity; she needs attention to maintain her position and we all oblige. There she was at the closing of the writs, thus ensuring that she got her face on the evening news.

In This changes things …, Thomas reports on a dilemma - he has been offered a permanent teaching position, but is reluctant to leave the kids he has just started teaching. I sympathise.

Our small blogging village has been following Thomas for a number of years. We have learned about his university experiences and then his progressive move into teaching. Kids aren't dumb. They know when they have a good teacher.

I remember the emotional problems that the Blonde Canadian, a former resident of the village, faced when she decided to move out of teaching. Her kids were upset and she felt torn. In the end she did leave, also leaving blogging at the same time.

Staying with the village but shifting countries to Indonesia, Tikno has just posted again after a long break - Between two interests - oil and democracy. This brings me to an issue that I have been musing over.

Maintenance of community depends upon interaction. When I talk about our blogging village, I am referring too a group of blogs, bloggers and commenters that came to cross-link and chat over several years. Most posted several times a week, the majority posted on a daily basis. As with Thomas, we came to know each other as people, not just individual posts.

Too a degree, this has broken down. If you follow the group blogs you won't see this so much, for they tend to have communities centred around individual blogs. If, like me, you follow individual or independent blogs, then it becomes much clearer, for here community centres not so much on individual blogs but on a shifting pattern of relationships between blogs and bloggers. 

While many factors are involved, the most important and recent influence is the dreaded Twitter. To illustrate this, take Paul Barratt's Australian Observer.

In 2009, Paul posted 261 times, 256 in 2010. So far this year there have been 22 posts; 18 in January, 3 in February, one so far in March. The decline in posting directly corresponds with Paul's discovery of Twitter.

In the relatively short time Paul has been tweeting, there have been 3,858 tweets. Paul now has 876 followers and is on 56 lists. Paul has gone this route because tweeting better serves his immediate objectives.

Paul is not alone. I could name half a dozen bloggers on my own list where the combination of Facebook with Twitter has led to a decline in posting. Time is short. People can only do so much. If you tweet and facebook on a regular basis, then it is harder to post regularly.

The problem that then arises is that irregular blog posting destroys the continuity and integrity of the blog. People cease to visit on a regular basis, there is far less interaction.

Regular posting can be a time demanding activity. As a consequence, it has always been the case that blogs decline as people burn out - leave the village. Tweeting and facebooking accelerate that process. They also reduce the time for conversation - commenting and cross-posting.

Like most regular bloggers, I monitor links quite closely. I haven't attempted to quantify this fully, but there seems to have been a noticeable decline in links. Now it may be that I have become too boring. However, this blog does not appear to be alone.

Does all this mean the end of the village? I don't think so. Certainly, I would not like to think so. However, it may mean that we regular bloggers for whom community is important need to rethink our approach a little.

I do try to link. I also link on a personal as well as issues basis. However, my feeling is that I need to spend less time on my own particular concerns, more time contributing to broader discussion.

If I want to maintain the sense of community that I value, if I want to give people better exposure to some of the interesting material that is around, then I need to play my part. It is far too easy to slip into solipsism.          


tikno said...

For me, blogging is not just building our village. This is also an alternative way out for freedom of expression as practiced by fellow blogger from Iran.

We can read directly from the source, something amazing.

I wonder when I read your sentence:
"Now it may be that I have become too boring. However, this blog does not appear to be alone."
As I read your post titled "PR blog performance February 2011", it's mean your blog is not alone. There's many out there interact to your blog. Beside having comments, the most exciting thing for a writers (blogger) is our writing being read by people out there. It means your thought has been travel to the internet ;)

rummuser said...

I have just finished reading Jared Diamond's "Collapse" which includes a detailed appraisal of Australia. While I was reading it I was wondering why your posts do not talk about what should be of great importance to Australians. Or did I come to your blog much after you had exhausted what you had to say about the matters raised there?

Jim Belshaw said...

Your comment got caught in the spam trap, Tikno. My apologies for the delay in appearance.

I fully agree with you on the freedom of expression point, as well as the capacity to express our personal views to the world.

The village part is especially important to me at a personal level because I like villages!

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi Ramana. Dimanond's work had, I fear, passed me by. I had to look him up on Wikipedia!

I do actually write about the type of issues Diamond raises all the time - probably more than twenty posts this year alone - just from a different perspective. However, the linkages and patterns would not be clear to the reader.

Interesting. I will pick your comment up in a post.

tikno said...

I've been thinking that you delete my comment. But now I know that I'm wrong to think of it.

btw, I have mentioned our little conversation into my latest post and link back to this post.

Jim Belshaw said...

Thanks, Tikno. Read the post with interest.

Thomas said...

Ah, the village ...

Jim Belshaw said...

It still is, Thomas!