How did you get into blogging?
I got into it by reading excellent blogs and wanting to be part of the community.
I was feeling sentimental and flipped back to 2007 – to read over some blogs I used to read 10 years ago. A couple of questions occurred to me and I wanted to reflect on them. Reflect with me?
How has blogging changed in the last 10 years?
WordPress wasn’t as big a deal 10 years ago. Blogger (blogspot) was way ahead. Google decided it wanted a new pet and bought it, but forgot it wasn’t just for Christmas, so today Blogger is poorer when it comes to design than WordPress. LiveJournal hadn’t been completely overpowered with Cyrillic in 2007.
Around 2005, people thought that blogging was it. There would be no books, everything would be one giant blog.
Were they right? Not really. It evolved in a very particular way. Now the people who like to make these predictions say that video is the big think. We will see. Pun? Genuinely not intended.
Many bloggers have moved on to other platforms, ones we now call social media. I think that blogging was the social medium for some time, but then others took over.
Facebook: you can’t really write a deep post on that as people expect something different. Besides looking at my friend’s cocktails, I mostly use it for following big publications. I am still not sure how Facebook managed to become the new go to platform, like TV used to be, rather than Twitter, rather than YouTube, etc. I find it good for following, let’s call them, brands, but otherwise it can be quite exclusive and isolating.
Instagram: I don’t know why, but I always prefer the written word – or a video over a photo. Photos are far less authentic than what a person will write or record on video. I think that’s what we’re all after in the end: connection, and that can only come from authenticity.
What is your favourite platform?
Anything that does long form writing is great. Design-wise, Worpress.com has a variety of nice options. Medium looks really cool and that feature that tells you how many people have not just seen but read your blog is cool. But it’s the samey and it’s inflexible. And it lacks a blogging community – which is WordPress.com’s strong point.
People talk about Medium’s clean distraction free design: distractions are in the eye of the beholder, is all I can say. The flipside is that Medium is that little bit bland.
If you could add one feature onto WordPress what would it be?
A trending now type thing. We have Discover, but the articles they like tend to be all about travel, writing and introspection. Long form articles that aren’t curated by an editor, just curated using a non-censoring algorithm based on links, shares and comments – that would be awesome. I guess Medium and LJ do something like that. Maybe it introduces a competitive element into writing that WordPress doesn’t encourage, but ultimately Discover is doing something similar.
Have you ever started and deleted a blog?
Yes, numerous times. Cause I felt stupid: what if so and so finds it and reads it. I once very nearly deleted a blog that subsequently became one of Ireland’s biggest school resources.
Blogging anonymously just isn’t the same. I inevitably end up mentioning family, friends, etc and no matter how tangential the mention, I am always reminded that this is being left on the internet for everyone to see. This can be quite an unnerving feeling. Blogging while also being a medical doctor has its own nuances.
As Flora the Explorer put it: “I sometimes feel like we collect different versions of ourselves — and in an effort to fit amongst a particular crowd we pull one of those selves from the pack, like a magician mid-card trick.”
Last, and perhaps most interesting is the question:
What makes a good blog?
More often than not it’s personal. Not personal in the sense that it’s overwhelmingly emotional – indeed the New Yorker tells us that that particular trend is over. It helps if you know the person.
The real magic happens when you don’t know the person, but their blog makes you feel like you do.
Good blogs are personal in the sense that they have a soul. Whatever does that even mean, Martina? It means different things to different people and therein lies the beauty and diversity of blogging. Whenever I go into a library, I am fascinated by the irrelevance of 99% of the books – to me. And yet these dignified tomes occupy their places with good reason.