The time has come to confront my hesitation around the blogging format. In this post, we explore how this also ties into the outdated conception of “the internet” as an assemblage of websites.
By the time I was old enough to have my own email address, YouTube was already a household name and Facebook had just usurped both MSN Messenger and MySpace. Being born in 1996, the Pew Research Centre considers me the youngest possible age of millennial. It is an odd position to be in, because unlike the Generation Z underneath me, I do remember dial up, and cassette players, and a pre-iPod era.
At the same time, throughout all of my childhood, the ubiquity of the internet had already been firmly established. We knew it was here to stay, and accepting that basic premise also means that I am more likely conceptualize the internet in a particular way. When you picture “the internet”, what do you see? Do you envision typing in a url? Or browsing Google results? Or a never-ending scroll of memes? I suspect that the answer probably varies among those born pre- or post-internet.
For myself, I still regard the internet as a network of websites, linked by topics into clusters that have grown into subcultures of their own. I am more inclined to think about the internet as an indexical system, a collection of websites that could be considered as “units”. It is a tool that allows us to build a digital world that complements everyday life; a rippled, watery reflection that mirrors the “real world”.
Here’s where we get to my main point: Within this conception of the internet, a blog makes a lot of sense. One person, one website: The ability to articulate and shape one’s digital voice through this personal portal. With this mindset, a blog of one’s own seems like the most logical way through which an individual could manifest themselves publicly on the internet.
But the time has come for me to re-evaluate and challenge how relevant this conception really is in comparison to everything the internet has become today.
You see, I was prompted to write about all of this after doing our assigned reading of Erin Kassane’s musings in “Contents May Have Shifted“. She discusses how our conception of three pillars of traditional publishing and the distribution of information (the page, the newspaper, and the book) have been forced to evolve in the internet era. Although Kassane examines how pre-internet media have adapted, I began to wonder if the internet itself has transformed enough that we should be taking a hard look at the blogging format. After all, blogs used to play a big role when the internet was understood as an assemblage of websites (base unites), as was mentioned before.
Is the blogging format even relevant anymore? This question that has haunted me throughout this semester. The whole premise of our course is based around the creation of a blog, which means that I have had to confront this question on a newly personal level.
When I speak to people much younger than me, that earlier description of the internet as linked websites doesn’t fully resonate. Unlike those of us who perceive the internet as a parallel universe or as an optional tool, young people understand that the internet is no longer so self-contained.
These days, the internet is less a space that we enter into and more an invisible dimension that operates all around us. It does not feel so bonded to the technology itself: Whereas the computer screen used to be that familiar access point into Reading A Website, we now have apps and their notifications, and even wifi-enabled fridges. As a result, we no longer feel such a need to reach out and make our mark. With that in mind, the blogging format simply seems excessive.
These days, we operate under the assumption that we’re leaving traces all the time. For this new generation, social media profiles have always been the default way to navigate the internet and to build a following––not the blog. If we combine all of this with a feeling of information overload and renewed fears over privacy, then it should come as no surprise that most people are trying to distance themselves from everything that once made the blogging format so trendy.
So, what do you think? Have we moved beyond the blog, or does it still serve a purpose? Leave a comment down below and check in with next week’s Process Post to find out my response to this dilemma.