Thursday, April 19, 2012

Musings on another blogging retirement - John Quiggin

I may or may not get to a proper post today. I had to finish an overdue column. In case I don't, I wanted to record an ending, one that links to some recent discussion on this blog.

Veteran blogger John Quiggin has followed Larvatus Prodeo into blogging oblivion and for apparently similar reasons. The words "blogging oblivion" are a little unfair as you will see in a moment:

John wrote in part:

With a lot of changes going on lately, I’ve taken a bit of time to think about the future of this blog. It will be ten years old in June, which makes it one of the longest running Australian blogs .....

The writing was on the wall as early as 2004, when I saw lots of my favorite blogs being assimilated by the Borg that became Crooked Timber. Seeing that resistance was futile, I joined the rush, but have kept this blog going with lots of crossposting, but more specifically Australian content here. Still, group blogs were clearly the wave of (what was then) the future. The most successful in Ozplogistan (the briefly popular name for Australian political blogs) have been Catallaxy, Club Troppo and Larvatus Prodeo. But there haven’t been any new entrants successful enough to attract sustained attention, and now LP is gone.

There are two obvious reasons for the decline of blogging. First, after disdaining everything to do with blogging for years, the mainstream media embraced the idea with enthusiasm five years ago or so, putting much of their content in blog form. The big media blogs now attract much larger audience than independent efforts like this one. Second, there has been the rise of Facebook and Twitter, both of which supply a lot of what attracted people to blogging in the first place. Twitter, in particular, can be quite close to the original form of blogging, based on short (very short in the case of Twitter) links to interesting material found on the web.

John is not giving up blogging in total. He is going to focus on new forms of writing and then cross-post to allow some blogging discussion to continue. Still, it's a loss.

In my comment on the end of Larvatus Prodeo I wrote:

To suggest that either Twitter or Facebook contributes to political debate is, frankly, absurd. How can a constant stream of 140 characters messages actually contribute to serious discussion?

Maintenance of a regular blog is bloody hard and especially for the independent like me. So many of my fellow bloggers have just burned out or, worse, become seduced by the immediate charge that Twitter offers. Yet real discourse comes from thought, and thought cannot be expressed in 140 characters.

This remains my position.

I do not accept John's point that there are no new independent group entries successful enough to attract attention. Skepticslawyers is an example. That said, I understand John's position and am saddened by it. 

John, I will miss you, but will still follow your writing. I need alternative views to mine!


Legal Eagle said...

Oh no! That's sad.

I don't think Facebook is right for the kind of discussions I want to have (in-depth, respectful, and sometimes at length). And Twitter is definitely not right (I can never keep to the character limit, and never have anything to say on that forum which is very worthwhile).

Naturally I'm delighted that you think our blog is an exception to John's rule. :-)

Jim Belshaw said...

We are in complete agreement on Twitter and Facebook, of course. And we are equally delighted re your blog!