Saturday, September 10, 2022

Why I like blogs and blogging better (it's not just because I'm old)

Bhagpuss put up a really thought provoking piece about blogging the other day.  I typed out a response and realized I had most of a blog post.  Given my spare time quotient, and since I am not ready to turn all my blogging over to an AI just yet, I can't really afford to waste a 90% written post these days :-) So here we are.

I think everyone that follows blogs knows that the form is in the middle of a slow decline in popularity.  However, I don't think anything that's come along to replace it really will or even can.  There are things I like about prose communication that podcasts or videos are not good substitutes for.  For example, there are a lot of blogs like Inventory Full (and everyone else listed off to the right if you are viewing this on a PC) on which I will at least check out almost every post that goes up.  There are exactly zero YouTubers or podcasters that I follow closely enough to watch/ listen to everything they put out.  Even my absolute favorite YouTube channels like  Kurzgesagt and Eons have a lot of videos out I have never watched.  

Why is that?  Am I a cranky old person?  Well yes, obviously, since I wasn't playing EQ as a toddler in 1999 and I blog about it a lot.  I also have a lawn, but the last person I had to chase off of it was around my age.  However, there is more to it than that!

For me personally, a really big part of it is that I can suck down prose at my own pace instead of having to set aside whatever hunk of time the person making content has decided I need to invest.  Guides to games especially, I absolutely hate having to sit through a video to get past one thing I am stuck on.  I am absolutely amazed at how many people prefer a ten hour video walkthrough to a prose guide where they can just look up exactly what they need.  You know there are indexed text guides to damn near everything right here, don't you? **Waves cane around wildly**

I also don't find that many opinions are worth sitting through a 20+ minute video to experience.  Obviously an insightful opinion can be thought provoking in any format.  I have become a big fan of Josh Strife Hayes for example, just like everyone else in this corner of the blogosphere.  Not a big enough fan to watch everything he puts out of course.  If I have a solid damn hour to fart away I will almost certainly spend it in a game.  But what I have watched is great, entertaining and often insightful.

In contrast, there are bloggers I almost never agree with, yet who I will still read everything they put up.  The risk you take when you decide read through a blog post is a lot less than when you commit to a video.  If some blogger that I follow posts something that strikes me as patently myopic or cranky, I can still engage with it and not be upset that I read it.  I'll even consider their opinion and occasionally change my own as a result.

For example, it's worth sitting through one blogger's somewhat disconnected-from-reality screeds because there are still occasional posts I enjoy, and sometimes even ideas embedded in the screeds that are interesting to consider.  If I sit through an hour long video to get to a punchline that I think is idiotic, I am generally quite upset over the time I wasted.  Five minutes or less spent reading a blog post to get there, not so much.

There is also something a bit more honest about prose.  It has to get by on what is there, the ideas being presented, much more than a video does.   To me an audience of even a few hundred steady readers feels like a badge of honor.  A few hundred or a few thousand views on YouTube is all but meaningless. 

Finally, I have the feeling that bloggers are more often motivated by the pure love of what they are writing about than other sorts of content creators.  These days blogging is a terrible way to even become internet famous, much less attain actual fame and fortune.  This news story went around recently saying that more than 80% of young people want to be social media stars.  Now I am sure if you dig into that the number it's exaggerated, really shocking headlines like that often are.  Regardless, I really doubt that any of those hopeful youngsters are firing up a blog!  

No-one does this for any reason at all any more save that they simply enjoy it.  It's nice to be able to settle into a chair and engage with a community united by a love of what they are doing, and not by any delusions of grandeur, fame or fortune.  I like the honesty and the (general) lack of pretension that comes with that. 


  1. I agree with all of that. It does seem counterintuitive that video and audio should have become the default means of promulgating information because they're so inflexible compared even to pure text, let alone hypertext. Audio, of course, has always been a dual-function medium; you have music or speech on in the background while you do other things. Video used to confuse me more until I realised I wasn't considering the way video is accessed these days. People don't just sit and watch it like television. They have it on a second monitor or picture-in-picture and they play it at 1.5x or 2x (Audio too).

    That does make it a little more reasonable but it's still a staggeringly inefficient way to get to the parts that matter and that's when we're talking about edited video. If you're talking livestreaming then it's like getting your news from the guy on the soapbox in the park.

    I'm also somewhat surprised that blogging hasn't yet had a revival. It's been around long enough and there's currently a huge upswing in interest in long-form prose among Gen Z, largely driven by Tik Tok. If a large sub-group of young people are avidly reading and sharing print books and another group is sharing ebooks it seems natural a subset of them will want to try long-form writing themselves, not just share other peoples' work on TikTok. It may well be that it's already happening but in a part of the web older people don't visit. I should probably look into that...

    1. I suspect that blogging will have some sort of revival, but as you say it won't be anywhere that older people hang out and it will be called something else. The advantages of text with hyperlinks as a way of communicating are too obvious.

      Reddit is really thriving right now, but it's a glorified message board with all the problems that entails. Virgin Worlds pushed an interesting model for our corner of the blogosphere that never really go emulated as far as I know. Blaugust also pretty neat, do the people that run stamp collecting blogs have something similar?