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« Personalizing or depersonalizing learning with technology? | Main | Is librarianship a reactionary profession? »

Is the blog dead?


Mark Crotty at To Keep Things Whole blog, observes:

One positive aspect of the blogging phenomenon is was that it had many people, without necessarily being aware of it engaging in the sort of intellectual exploration associated with the original essay. This idea holds particularly true in what many called "process posts." I often begin with just a seed of an idea, unsure exactly where the post may end up. I do almost no drafting, editing, or revising. In a way it's like journaling publicly. The quality of writing in blogs is not always high quality; it can sometimes be rather poor. But that's besides the point. More people were struggling to capture their ideas via the written word, which often sharpens one's thoughts and leads to unforeseen conclusions. Many notable authors have said something about the notion of not knowing what they thought until they wrote it down. The back-and-forth in comments can extend that thinking. This reason, more than anything else, is why I keep blogging.

But finally he asks:

I'm not sure how many people actually read blogs any more.

I've wondered the same thing. The Blue Skunk was started in 2005 as what I thought would be a very temporary experiment. (I honestly didn't know at the time I named the blog "Blue Skunk" that it was a brand of marijuana -really, I didn't!) I wondered if blogging was "my thing" since I was writing articles and columns and had even published a book or few. But I quickly came to find it a tool as Mark describes it, to "capture my thoughts" and clarify my thinking. And having no shame, share my conclusions without editors or censorship or occasionally good judgement. (See Why the Blue Skunk Blog and Why I Write for Professional Publication) for a bit more thoughtful approach to my writing.) Writing this blog has probably given me more joy than it has given my readers.

Yet the decline of blogging has seemed steep over the last few years as Mark notes. I have found many of my favorite bloggers have dropped out or moved on. The readership of the Blue Skunk, at least indicated by the number of comments I get to my posts, has slowed to a trickle. The days of a dozen responses to a single post has trickled to one every now and again. (I do value those faithful readers very much.)

I often ask myself if this is because my ideas have become stale, irrelevant, or meaningless to others in the profession. As one ages, one questions one's relevance more and more as bright young minds move into the field - as they should. Has this blog simply become too self-indulgent? Do I post too often or not often enough? Am I writing simply for the sake of writing or am I making a meaningful contribution?

Or is has blogging as a format simply had its day? I reluctantly tweet and re-tweet and have a "following" on Twitter of 6,780 souls. Mostly, I am sure, following my snarky t-shirt slogans more than clicking the links to the blog. In an environment of Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and clickbait, have 500 words simply become to costly in terms of time and attention? Personally, I find the value of Twitter in becoming aware of links to longer, more insightful pieces of writing. Having a discussion on Twitter to me is like having a debate with bumper stickers alone.

I personally value those bloggers who have stayed with it - the Larry Cubans and Mark Crottys and Joyce Valenzas and Miguel Guhlins and Scott McLeods. They still challenge my thinking in ways formally published articles do not. Thank you to them and all bloggers still brave enough to share their ideas.

I am afraid if you were hoping this entry was to inform readers that I would not longer be blogging, you will be sorely disappointed. If blogging or just the Blue Skunk is a dead horse, it is one I will continue to beat. Sorry about that. But at least you will still be getting your money's worth.

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Reader Comments (18)

I would have been sorely disappointed if you had stopped. I always enjoy reading your posts and often recommend them to others. Thanks your sharing!

January 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJ. Butts

Doug -- For me, reading blogs continues to be my first of the morning endeavor to keep up with the developments of the profession. I haven't caught the Twitter bug as there is simply too much noise to signal and besides, I can read more than 140/280 words in a sitting. I would hate to see blogs disappear and am surprised to read that fewer people are reading blogs. I can't tell you how many of your and Joyce Valenza's postings are embedded in the teaching of my classes, for example. Feedly is my primary self-education tool and I recommend it always to my students. Keep up the good work!

January 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterFloyd Pentlin

I still read it! It’s just more of a pain to comment when I’m on my phone (like now) but I check it on my feed regularly!

January 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJim

I never comment, but I love reading your blog and the insights you provide. What I love about blogs, is that I am not constantly inundated with noise and updates ala twitter and facebook.

January 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterGraveyard Librarian

I love reading your blog. There is almost always some relevant information I can use. At the very least it entertains me!

January 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDebra Gottsleben

I have read your blog faithfull and would be very sorry if it disappeared. I enjoy your ideas and the thoughts you share. As a small school librarian, it helps expand my view. I may also enjoy your t-shirt slogans on Twitter . . .

January 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMarcia Smith

Keep up the good work!

January 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKenn Gorman

Just wanted to pop in and leave a comment. While I've definitely slacked off on commenting on blogs, I do read them regularly and find a lot of value in learning what other people think. I enjoy reading your posts and I'm glad that you're not stopping anytime soon :)

January 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDiana Rendina


Your blog and the time you have spent answering my comments and personal emails over the years have shaped my thinking, my focus and ultimately my career trajectory as I moved from librarian to tech director. I find blogs invaluable and yours the first one I click on in my feed.

Thanks for everything and I look forward to reading your thoughts far into the future!

January 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBrad Malone

Doug -

For me your blog is an everyday read. It makes me think about education and technology's impact- both good and bad... so it's an indulgence I hope you continue.

Commenting is very difficult from a phone browser... like now...

Truly enjoy reading your thoughts


January 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Linke

I rarely comment on blogs, but I still read regularly, and highly prefer them to the chaos that is Twitter and Facebook, and allow for longer, more connected thoughts. I have followed Blue Skunk for years and would be sorry to see it go.

January 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKathryn

Too many blogs. Too many blogs that aren't active anymore. Too many shiny new blogs. Too many blogs that take you to other blogs and then more. Changes. People change. Needs change. Finite time. Finite life. Nothing is wrong; nothing needs to stop but there must be realization that humans can't keep up exploring everything. The current trend is minimalism and I wonder after people stop dealing with possessions, and extra things to read and think about, what they will do. How does a minimalistic life look? It would give people enough time to talk about how great it is to be minimalists and maybe time to read blogs.

January 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKD

I would like to echo some of the other comments and say that your blog and others that offer relevant, thoughtful reflections on education, librarianship, technology, etc. continue to have great value. I find that I most often don't take the time to comment and time seems to be dwindling, which really doesn't make sense. That being said, I'm glad to hear you're going to continue writing and you are welcome to justify your efforts in any way that you wish!

January 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMegan

I usually read it in my RSS feed (I use Feedbin) in the morning, before work. I'd comment more, but usually I'm running off and then forget! Please keep blogging!!

January 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

I am happy you are going to continue blogging. I read your posts (and several other blogs) daily, I just don't comment very often. I think that blogs continue to be a way to share great reflections and insight about lessons, ideas, and books.

January 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

My sincere thanks to all of you for commenting. The post was not intended to solicit confirmation or sympathy, but it is good know there are people who still find the blog worth a few minutes of their time. Doug

January 10, 2018 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

I have been a blog *lurker* for the majority of the blogs I read and enjoy every day. I read blogs on my feed (was Google Reader, now Feedly) and enjoy and learn from them, but almost NEVER click through to comment. If I'm part of the "problem" (and yes, I've seen other bloggers comment on the death of the blog, too) I apologize. I dearly love reading my daily feed and appreciate every blogger I follow. Thank you for all you do.

January 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPam

I am guessing most have moved on to Facebook and Twitter. I guess you write on Facebook whatever you previously wrote on a blog, but the readership would be very different. My not so positive assessment is that many educators have moved on to Twitter which requires much less work. Microblogging is far easier, but does not require the depth of thought and time.

January 11, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermark grabe

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