Review 2010: The Opinion Engine: 8/31: How has blogging changed in the last nine or ten years? Both from personal and overall perspective (suggested by Karie Bookish)

Underwood Typewriter II

About This blog reaches its tenth year in six months. Having visited sections of the archive for various reasons, I’m surprised by how little the content has change. Pick an average week in August 2004, and there’s the usual mix of culture linkage and commentary on some big cultural event, in that case the Olympics. You can disagree, but I don't see the changes here that I've noticed in other blogs. There might have been the odd refocusing of emphasis here and there, from links to long form writing and back again, but it ebbs and flows usually with how far I can lift my writer's block.

Since you want my opinion (because I’ve wanted you to want my opinion), I think that if anything my blogging has become more self-conscious. As soon as someone I knew offline first mentioned that they read my “website”, personal blogging per se stopped. There are parts of the archive for you to discover, especially from the early days, which are far more open than I would ever be now. Events that would naturally have found themselves written about in this space, I’ve deliberately self-censored. But I do think that’s true of most old-schoolers. We’ve learnt through experience that if there’s something we don’t want people to know about, the first thing to do is not put it up on our blogs.

Personal blogging itself has become rather old school lately too. If Facebook has replaced the application of wanting to keep family and friends abreast of recent developments, Twitter has offered the ability to present even more instant opinion, with the hundred and forty-character limit and excellent way of focusing the mind. I’ve made a point of keeping this blog updated with something daily, but there are certainly ideas which have inescapably been lost to micro-blogging which in the past would more naturally have become three whole paragraphs or at least a paragraph with a blockquoted extract in the middle, which seems desperately time consuming by comparison.

As I predicted somewhere in those archives, corporate blogging has also rather hijacked everything. There are three flavours; large media organisations using the platform to offer content that would previous have appeared on static pages in a time dated format with comments, large media organisations that employ the blogging format for all its convenience and try to retain some element of personal blogging even if the content is as impersonal as hell and companies employing blogs to sell their wares, from music to film to cereals. With their pots of money and giant staffs, it’s become increasingly difficult for personal bloggers to calve out their own niche.

Which suggests the biggest change in blogging in the past ten years. It’s become aggressively difficult to be truly original anymore. Sometimes it feels as though we’re all sitting around reviewing the same bits of culture, linking to the same websites, embedding the same videos, feeding on whatever new thing has filtered down from 4Chan via Reddit or the A-list linkers (with the Tumblr platform designed for just this application). No two blogs are exactly the same, most express the personality of the writer, but I can see it happening here, wincing as I link to yet another Guardian interview even if it is the best thing I’ve read that day. What’s the point in doing this if we’re not trying to be brilliant ourselves?

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