Today marks the anniversary of starting my weblog, Cruftbox. I've been blogging for 14 years now. Posting stories about my life actually started a little earlier, with this one about The Most Expensive Cup of Coffee back in 1997, but it wasn't until January 2000 that I got rolling with a real fervor and software to help.
Things have changed a wee bit since those heady days, just past the Y2K scare, when mobile phones were used for talking, the wail of a modem connecting was common, and Napster was a new idea.
I'll come right out and say it, personal weblogs, for the most part, are dead. [queue the furious responses] I can almost hear the keyboards typing in fury in response.
But it's true. Social software has replaced the role of weblogs in documenting and sharing an individual's life.
Yes, there are still people with personal weblogs out there, but for the most part they focus on a specific topic or issue the person is interested. A person's interest in a sport or fitness program, or their food adventures in eating out or cooking, or even facing illness or other tough circumstances are the kinds of things that is what makes up the fewer and fewer number of personal weblogs out there.
That said, it's not a bad thing. Change is inevitable and generally we forward in a better direction. Twitter, Facebook, and other modern sharing systems are fun.
I do worry that the ephemeral nature of social networks does lead to a tremendous amount for information being lost and unretrievable. Weblogs at least have a chance of staying up long enough to get indexed and maybe even backed up on archive.org.
Many weblogs exist today as adjunct to the main focus, which is social media and getting posts to go viral. They are not about having a conversation anymore. Here, I actually turned off comments because no one used them except spam robots. No one said a word when I did.
I spoke to my daughters about my weblog. They are 15 & 18, growing up immersed in the internet and connected as long as they can remember. I asked what they thought of Cruftbox. They said that it was neat, but that no one does this anymore. I asked what they considered their 'home' on the internet, where people coudl best get a view of who they are. One said her Tumblr site, another said Facebook. This it the foreseeable future. You can rage against if you want, but the coming of age generation sees personal weblogs as an anachronism.
Now we shouldn't take that to mean that people should stop blogging, simply as a sign that change is happening. Just as at one time, your .plan file and your usenet signature were important identifiers in a way that many can't comprehend today, weblogs are heading down the same path. New things continue to appear and allow your voice to be heard, weblogs are clearly not the only way.
So face up to the reality that most personal weblogs are run by tech saavy middle aged folks, slowly watching an era end. This is not something to be sad about, for new amazing things are coming. Think of it like the leaves of fall on the ground being the fertilizer for the flowers of spring.