Saturday, December 02, 2017

Fifteen years blogging

I thought I just might post something on the anniversary of my blog. It's exactly fifteen years ago that I registered this account with Blogger and, although the frequency of my posting and some of the old enthusiasm has waned, I still keep showing up. Why? Not for the same reasons for sure. That first day, that first post was undertaken with a particular kind of excitement. Little old me could type something on my keyboard, in Sheffield, and then, magically, there it would be on the internet for all to see! It seems rather gauche now, but back then the internet still seemed rather new and most of what you read was written by geeks or by companies that employed geeks. It felt with a blog you could get hold of the printing press and publish, just like that! But of course that feeling completely elided the fact that writers need readers - but then that small detail wasn't going to put me off either. And in fact it was only when Colin and Michele commented on my blog from Australia, Canada or Mexico, or wherever they were at the time, that I thought oh my god, people will read this stuff, too! That actually fired more enthusiasm. The posts were still highly experimental and at that stage I was more or less stringing together links about strange, quirky things on the web - a bit like the original bloggers did. Colin and Michele rather flatteringly described my blog as a wunderkammer. Perhaps that was just a kind way of calling it a mess. But all in all it meant that writing could change. Pictures, links, tags and all the rest were new. And what's more a small band of academics began exploring blogging. Working with Julia Davies, who started blogging around the same time as me, I began to write about this phenomenon. A community of literacy academics started blogging too, and there was a tangible feeling of being on the edge of something important. Then that something changed. Blogging lost its playful, experimental edge, it became popular, it became formulaic and in came the 'A-list bloggers'. Usually white, mostly male, and predominantly American, this group effectively standardised blogging. It became - dare I say it - a genre. And now commercial outfits, media companies, universities, this group, that project and just about everyone else has a blog. Slowly my own posts began to shift from that heady 'isn't the internet weird' phase into more critical and reflective pieces. I began to use my blog to try out ideas. Ideas that might later get absorbed into articles or book chapters. And that's what it has become for me - just another opportunity to write, to publish. Guess what, I'm fifteen years older and my priorities have changed! But if I've changed, so has the online environment. I care less about who reads my stuff and in that sense I'm right back to my first post. But strangely enough, I care more about what I write than I ever did before.