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Past Valve Book Events

cover of the book Theory's Empire

Event Archive

cover of the book The Literary Wittgenstein

Event Archive

cover of the book Graphs, Maps, Trees

Event Archive

cover of the book How Novels Think

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cover of the book The Trouble With Diversity

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cover of the book What's Liberal About the Liberal Arts?

Event Archive

cover of the book The Novel of Purpose

Event Archive

The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Happy Trails to You

What’s an Encyclopedia These Days?

Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Intimate Enemies: What’s Opera, Doc?

Alphonso Lingis talks of various things, cameras and photos among them

Feynmann, John von Neumann, and Mental Models

Support Michael Sporn’s Film about Edgar Allen Poe

Philosophy, Ontics or Toothpaste for the Mind

Nazi Rules for Regulating Funk ‘n Freedom

The Early History of Modern Computing: A Brief Chronology

Computing Encounters Being, an Addendum

On the Origin of Objects (towards a philosophy of computation)

Symposium on Graeber’s Debt

The Nightmare of Digital Film Preservation

Richard Petti on Occupy Wall Street: America HAS a Ruling Class

Bill Benzon on Whatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhat?

Nick J. on The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Bill Benzon on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Norma on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Bill Benzon on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

john balwit on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on That Shakespeare Thing

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

JoseAngel on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on Objects and Graeber's Debt

Bill Benzon on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on Objects and Graeber's Debt

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Is it over?

Posted by Rohan Maitzen on 07/12/09 at 01:23 PM

The golden age of blogging, that is? I’m just wondering, because that’s what some other people seem to think. Or maybe not dying, just changing--but is that good or bad? I realize navel gazing meta-blogging gets tedious, and some of the issues under discussion in the linked pieces don’t seem on point for the kind of things The Valve is about, or for, but I would be interested in hearing (especially from some of you who have been in the game a lot longer than I have) whether you have noticed a decline in your own enthusiasm for or commitment to the form, or in the range of blogs you are interested in keeping up with, or a shift in the way you think about or practise blogging, for better or for worse.

(first two links: hat tip DGMyers)


I lack the grizzled perspective of the oldsters among us—speak, oh ye wise elders!—but very little in those articles looks familiar to me. Partly that’s because by “blogging,” a lot of those articles seem to mean “liberal political blogging” and use Yglesias and Klein types as its representatives, which skews the sample if you want to talk about things like professionalization (since political blogs run according to a very different logic than others). And I find that there are still far far more weird interesting blogs than I have time to read out there. But that doesn’t seem to be the point of any of those articles (nor do I have any idea how exactly one would quantify such a thing); instead, the dream of hitting it rich by blogging seems uncomfortably central to the entire narrative, which (since I’ve never imagined it happening to me) makes the whole perspective kind of weird to me.

Meanwhile, the fact that the dead-tree articles on the death of blogging are strikingly light and unsubstantial in comparison to the two blog articles Rohan cited illustrates something important.

By on 07/12/09 at 05:03 PM | Permanent link to this comment

I think Laura at 11D makes some good points.

I do still read some A-list bloggers regularly (i.e., Andrew Sullivan), though I certainly agree with her the “aggregator” blogs have lost much of their appeal.

Between 2003 and about 2006 there was a palpable sense of buzz in the blogosphere. The articles in the mainstream press about blogging added a sense of excitement, and there was a general sense of growth and building.

Now that sense of buzz is gone, and I think she’s right that there isn’t quite as much room to grow anymore. I think there’s a real cultural shift in the way people link to one another; the idea of link reciprocity just seems totally dead.

Still, blogging does seem like it might be good for a few things: 1) cultivating the personal discipline involved with writing regularly for public consumption (even if it’s now on a small scale); 2) sharing niche expertise; and 3) connecting with some far-flung, but like-minded people around a particular topic.

Blogging may be dying or at least shrinking, but I find I’m still making connections with some interesting scholars through it. I’m also not sure what I would do ‘next’ if I were to give up blogging, other than move entirely to writing for academic venues (which would be no fun at all).

By Amardeep Singh on 07/12/09 at 07:37 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Grizzled oldster checking in.

Better to say the gold-rush age of blogging is over, since what’s been lost are just traits of idiot fads in general. As I wrote over at Kotsko’s, of the changes on 11D’s list, three at least ("The A-List Doesn’t Matter Anymore,” “It’s all about niche blogs,” and “MSM yawns") are welcome reversions to the earliest days of blogging, somewhat as blogging itself was a welcome recoil from dot-com frenzy back to our earliest hopes for the web. Amardeep’s list of the format’s 2009 justifications closely matches our justifications in 1999.

Speaking of golden ages, you guys really need to put Ben Friedlander’s blog on the sidelist.

By Ray Davis on 07/12/09 at 08:06 PM | Permanent link to this comment

All that’s over is the novelty of the form. Novelty of adaptation continues apace (eg arXiv, atop what’s now the preferred physics venue), while the niches now include deep expertise (eg in math, climate studies); or less technically, Raysuscitations and Snarkeology ...

Color me bemused that internets is plural while blogosphere is monolithic, particularly with corporations & MSM getting in on the act; that celebrity measures import; that it’s just a gateway (ivory) to getting paid per word.

Me, I’ve changed what it is I’m doing a couple of times, and will again.

By nnyhav on 07/12/09 at 10:46 PM | Permanent link to this comment

I agree with Amardeep Singh. Blogging is still useful as a writing format. Even a small academic blog generally gets more exposure than most academic journal articles. But, getting wide spread exposure through high profile linking is now no longer viewed as a possiblity. In reality it was only a possibility for a very small number of rather mundane blogs.

By J. Otto Pohl on 07/13/09 at 03:54 AM | Permanent link to this comment

Thank you, Ray Davis, for the mention of my ‘umble Snark blog. My blog keeps me in constant communication with an international cabal of Snarkistes from all walks of life and has even garnered me some paying work.

Blogging is a golden opportunity for academics and specialist amateurs to push their way to the front of the cultural line as the exclusive disseminators of verified information for the enthusiastic layman and fellow professionals. The void left by the collapsing print industry is yours to occupy; yours is one of the few remaining professions who knows how to write and fact check.

Plus, there’s no real money in it so academics should feel at home, eh?

By mahendra singh on 07/16/09 at 07:23 AM | Permanent link to this comment

If only I could be mistaken for nnyhav always, my life would be perfect.

nnyhav, wanna hang out some time? Have you read The Talented Mr. Ripley? Answer the second question first.

By Ray Davis on 07/17/09 at 10:28 AM | Permanent link to this comment

I’m beside myself. Which may be why, for me, I’m so often mistaken.

By nnyhav on 07/17/09 at 08:28 PM | Permanent link to this comment

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