To Blog or Not

Posted by on Jan 5, 2011 in Outdoor | 9 Comments

I came across this rather accurate insight at Dave’s blog:

It’s amazing that blogs even exist any more. Facebook and Twitter are the Fast Food Nation of thought. Who wouldn’t rather take 15 seconds to spout something off instead of the hours it takes to write a decent blog entry? Bloggers are the resistance, and before they get taken into custody in the name of Vapid Über Alles they need props while they’re still with us.

I think the author—the unnamed blogger at Competitive Cyclist—describes rather exactly the state of blogging going into 2011. Facebook and Twitter have simply replaced, or are using up, the energy that had each of us writing, and reading, furiously nearly every day of the week ony a year or two ago. Indeed, the idea that blogging is dead is nothing new, but I do fear that the blog as we once knew it, is long dead. That is, blogs are the new Media: the new Newsweek or Time or Sports Illustrated, rather than the outlet for individual expression and relevance that fueled their beginnings. Of course, the personal blog still exists, but sadly it has become secondary to the capital infused mega-blogs. In fact, I have a hard time seeing websites, with staff and reporters and writers as “blogs” at all. To me, the blog will always be a form of that resistance eluded to above. Whatever that might be, in specific terms, is up to the individual blogger. But never before has an individual (read: not a politician, CEO, or celebrity) been so empowered to enact change or influence on such a wide scale, and in so little time. The 5 freedoms of the First Amendment seem to be entirely expressed through blogging.

I’m often asked about starting, and keeping a blog. I always respond that “blogging is hard. No, really it is.” Skeptical would only begin to describe the inevitable reaction. But those of you who know, know. Blogging is difficult.

Certainly there are those who seem to produce cascades of content. I don’t know how they do it, except that they must have active, ever-flowing rivers of information and ideas flowing in their minds. And energy. Writing, or blogging, if writing is too lofty a term, requires energy. And unlike federal monopoly money, energy is limited. I’ve often thought that physical and creative energy are related and symbiotic. However, some of my most productive writing binges have occurred during periods of physical rest. Particularly during the winter months when my body craves wool blankets, comfort food, and hibernatory amounts of sleep. Blogging also requires time. And time is always at a premium. I do not know how many nights I have stayed up late editing photos, or re-writing—as I am right now. I wonder often, and especially lately, if that time has been well spent. But I wouldn’t be here if I did not want to be. And somehow the dry spells of content and energy and time seem to lapse, and I find myself back at the keys plunking away at something or another that I hope will spread like wildfire throughout the web.

Of course, that simply doesn’t, or very rarely, happens at all, despite of the nearly worthless and countless ‘how-to-blog’ blogs that promise fame and wealth and page loads.

And so, we write. And shoot photos. We adventure, and race and hike and ski, sometimes only to have something to write about tomorrow, or the next day—content that we hope will be valuable to more people than just ourselves. But I think I might be here, even if you weren’t. I find writing to be a sort of therapeutic exercise in self-assessment and a valuable resource for reflection, history-keeping, and story telling.

Dave points out that

On the one hand, if blogging is the attention-demanding, longhand form of writing and reading these days, our standards have indeed been warped.  On the other, I think that blogging might well be an ideal compromise between sharing a breadth of content with a wide audience and creating forceful, thoughtful media.

And I think he is right. Particularly about our standards being warped. That is, if the best each of us can do is to trudge through a few blog posts each day, then writing—real writing—is in trouble. As much as I enjoy micro-blogging platforms like Facebook and Twitter, I do think, and I speak from experience, that they have caused our already sporadic minds to become almost incapacitatingly distracted.

A goal for 2011?

Stay focused.

On what?

I haven’t decided yet…

But mostly on writing and photography. Or, in other words: content for this blog.

Perhaps I will even find ways to use that content, or rather the talents* that produces it, to generate income. After all, I’ve never claimed my delusions of grandeur are limited to bike racing.

*I use that word loosely, and liberally.

So, yeah. I’m going to continue to write and take pictures (see below for obligatory, unrelated photo). And I hope you will continue to visit and read and share your own links and thoughts. 2010 was the largest traffic year I’ve had in 5 years of blogging, and I owe you each a ‘thank-you’. Especially to those who include me in your own blogrolls, feeds, and in your posts. It is appreciated.

And while I can’t claim to be any better than the ‘fast food nation of thought’ I will stake a claim on being better than say…  the McDonalds of thought.

If only slightly.

canyonlands national park

Henry Mountains, Canyonlands, Moab.

9 Comments

  1. Heather
    January 5, 2011

    So true. I was remember back to junior high when I would write pages and pages with a pen. I don’t think my hand could handle that much writing now! Ironically, I saw that you updated your blog through facebook, so maybe for that facebook can be a good thing!! Keep up the writing and awesome inspiring pictures!

  2. KanyonKris
    January 5, 2011

    It’s interesting to see how people use these tools and how use shifts over time.

    My blogging has declined. I still like the format, to tell a story. My interest in blogging is to document events, practice writing and communicate with family and friends. I think my writing has improved a little because of the blog.

    I use Facebook some. Creating/adding content is very easy. I feel status updates are overused resulting in important announcements drown out by mundane minutia. But it has provided better connection with some people, especially those far away. For instance, updates from my sister-in-law who is staying with her daughter awaiting the birth of her first child.

    I find Twitter the least useful. Feels like shouting into the dark. It’s good for broadcasting concise info. But conversations are hard to follow.

  3. KDAY
    January 5, 2011

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I feel terrible that my site/blog/personal journal of life events had been a bit under the weather. I think I’m coming out of a bit of burn-out at the moment but have a few good thoughts coming the way of KDAY Racing. I’ve been keeping the online journal for quite some time now and for me, even though it’s changed dramatically since the beginning, it’s actually the only documented aspect of my life that I currently have. Because of this, it’s interesting in how I process my thoughts throughout the day. Often times I think of ways to incorporate my day with the site. How to share events or incite of things I’ve learned. Is “this” blog worthy? “This” has become who I am and regardless of weather or not people follow along or blogs just up and die… I think I’ll keep it up. I certianly hope you do as well. There are a select few RSS feeds that always keep me coming back.

  4. Bill Martin
    January 5, 2011

    Agreed. I am struggling with the balance myself and think I’ll go back to the blog and give up on the status feeds. It is quite distracting and time consuming. After all blogs are hard. I like hard.

  5. Emily
    January 5, 2011

    The real, first-person, grassroots, honest blog is a beautiful thing. Accessible to anyone worldwide, but as close-to-the-bone as the writer is comfortable making it. Inspiring, hilarious, beautiful, painful in ways that– come on– twitter is never gonna be.
    I have sponsors listed on the side of my blog, but I tell stories because that’s what I do. Those of us who actually enjoy the craft of putting together sentences and are comfortable with the honesty of the first-person will keep on writing. Those who never did like sentences never did write good blogs in the first place. It is, after all, pretty hard work.

  6. Jill
    January 5, 2011

    ” I find writing to be a sort of therapeutic exercise in self-assessment and a valuable resource for reflection, history-keeping, and story telling.”

    This, to me, sums up the reason for blogging in its entirety. Blogging *is* like racing. Blogs take time and effort. They have to be exercised on a regular basis or they will grow flabby and stale. There is a potential for monetary payback, but it’s infinitely miniscule in comparison to the amount of time and resources invested. Only a very elite few can make a living off traditional blogs. It’s only worth doing if it means something to you, and connects you with the people/community you want to connect with. Otherwise, yes, it is an exercise in futility.

  7. Brandon S.
    January 5, 2011

    I like the blog. Keep it up.

  8. Frank Eeckman
    January 6, 2011

    So true what you say. However, a blog is so much more satisfying than the soundbites of facebook or twitter. The latter are OK to keep track of things, but if you really want to learn more, a blog is the medium of choice.

  9. Grizzly Adam
    January 7, 2011

    Some great points guys! I’ve always treated blogging as writing practice. As someone who’d like to claim the title of “writer” some day, this space has been more valuable than any classroom or book, and as such, as long as I want to write, I’ll write. Thanks for the feedback.