Back in the days when blogs ruled the earth – well, when they constituted pretty much the sole medium of digital interaction – it used to matter to me greatly that I was reaching out to a regular and reasonably substantial readership. The raison d’être of Dick Jones’ Patteran Pages was the maintenance of an ongoing dialogue with both my fellow bloggers and those readers who were consumers rather than producers.
So happy days were when I posted an item over which I’d taken some time and trouble and the comment window came alive with responses. Approval, admiration, crowd-pleasing weren’t the objectives; communication was the principal aim. And many vigorous and free-flowing dialogues resulted back in the day from the combination of stimulus and acknowledgement.
To some extent, that kind of dialectic does come about via status updates on Facebook. But such is the fast-food turnover of posts, many promising threads go cold within the space of a handful of comments, or simply don’t register at all, the subject matter and those reactions that it has, in the instant, provoked slung out with the pizza crusts.
This now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t phenomenon is particularly evident with more personalised material. Poems rarely pick up any response; the same is true of home-brew musical items. Yes, they might be universally perceived as crap; I acknowledge this possibility. But both garnering some approval when shared in other contexts has me walking the narrow path between ‘tread softly because you tread on my dreams’ and ‘stand back, genius in the room’! So I’m motivated thereby to find a home for these less patronised products where anyone so inclined might be able to access them at their leisure.
Hence the revival of the blog. The old days are past. Only a tiny handful of those bloggers with whom I once shared densely populated hillsides and valleys are still in original residence. Most have, like me, moved house and home to the vast and noisy condominium that is Facebook. However, three of them – Natalie, Beth and Dave (all of us close friends now) – have managed to coordinate dual residence, their blogs remaining rich resources of enduring quality and their Facebook pages acting both as interactional media and conduits to those blogs.
I started blogging behind the shingle of Dick Jones’ Patteran Pages back in February 2003, using the fearsomely clunky weblog technology employed by the liberal/left media giant Salon, operating back then in its earliest incarnation but innovative enough to want to host one of the first blogging platforms. The original notion was to use the Patteran Pages simply as an online diary, but over time as both the technology and my own expertise gathered strength and range, it became a great deal more than that. I kept going until 2015 and then, increasingly conscious that I was at the dark end of the street in something of as ghost town, with few regrets I moved out. Liberated now from any need or desire to stretch communication between the slow-cooked, marinated blog post and a regular constituency of eager readers, I’m powerfully motivated to return to the blog, this time functioning as a repository of material that will, as time passes, archive itself for my own satisfaction. And once again the intention is simply to maintain a regular, if not absolutely calendar-bound, diary whose content may be witnessed by others but whose purpose and value will have priority first and foremost for myself.
And you can be assured that I’ll read every one of your ruddy blogs even if I don’t have the energy or can’t find the words to comment. It saddens me that there’re only three names here. I would’ve liked mine to have been too. Giving up the blog was not a decision made lightly but it was a necessary one. I’m not an especially social person and so the blog never existed to satisfy that need. I thought it would be a way to draw attention to my writing, a way to earn the respect of my peers but things changed so rapidly. Ten years is nothing or at least it used to be nothing. I don’t imagine the world of 1483 and 1493 was noticeably different. Now ten days can make a difference. I just want to sit and read and write and pretty much be left alone. That won’t sell any books but I wasn’t selling any anyway. Why weren’t we born fifty years earlier? I suppose there’s the possibility we’d both have been killed during the war but if we’d managed to escape that fate who knows where we might be now. I’d like to think both of us would have poems in the school syllabus for the kids of today to groan over.
I pride myself on forensic self-checking pre-posting, both for grammatical and syntactical accuracy and content clarity. I fucked up this time! By naming Natalie, Dave and Beth, I was anticipating identifying them as the first link-ups made outside my fellow Salon bloggers in 2003 when I fired up. Somehow that just didn’t happen and so, effectively, I left not only you out of that cherished roll-call but also Jean (https://tastingwords.com/) and Rachel (https://www.facebook.com/rachel.rawlins.rr/about?lst=612065537%3A547756015%3A1509038888) as well! So apologies proffered, Jim, and extended to Jean and Rachel as well. At least I can buy them a drink at the next London meet-up. I wish I could do the same for you!
Seriously, I can relate to this. Blogs give one space to think somehow: those who read them want to read them. One visits a blog with a purpose: to engage in a (often in-depth) conversation.
It comes and goes but I intend to blog more and post on FB less myself.
Becaue my blog links straight to Facebook, I’ll oscillate between the two. But I’m glad to be actually wanrting to blog again. Glad too to be in company with old friends.
Thanks for including me, Dick. Indeed I feel like an old veteran of those good ol’ blogging days. I too miss the camaraderie and the excitment and discovery which prevailed. Imagine, one had to explain to ‘outsiders’ what a blog was! And I remember what fun it was to turn on the computer and actually communicate with others via that magical screen.
Medals should be struck for we pioneers!