The Daily Zen #5 “Everything You Love is Dead”

So I set out on Monday to write a daily post every day this week, and I’ve made it. It’s been a lot of fun writing these posts, even though it also takes up a chunk of time in my day. I don’t think I will continue writing these on a daily schedule, but will try to keep it up a few times a week (I’m not sure if I can still call that The Daily Zen though?). I feel these shorter posts are a good way to express ideas I don’t want to write into full fledged posts. Let us begin.

Yesterday, Jason Kottke started a little buzz on the internet by posting yet another “The Blog is Dead” article. This has become an annual tradition – just Google that phrase and you can find similar articles going back to at least 2007, when the immense lasting power of Myspace was apparently going to end blogs once and for all. Yet, we sit here at the end of 2013 and blogs still exist and are still fairly popular. I think where Kottke goes wrong in his article is he assumes a certain definition of the purpose of blogs, and that because that purpose has changed, they have metaphorically died.

But the function of the blog, the nebulous informational task we all agreed the blog was fulfilling for the past decade, is increasingly being handled by a growing number of disparate media forms that are blog-like but also decidedly not blogs.

The “nebulous informational task” I think he is referring to is sharing things, socializing, and posting short personal thoughts and opinions. I agree that blogs that do that have become severely marginalized as people have turned to social services such as Facebook and Twitter to do those things. But the blog doesn’t have to be confined to simply those areas, and can serve other areas, such as the ideal place to publish long form writing (like what you are reading at this very moment). It’s great to have debates on Twitter, but you need a blog if you want to get down into the depths of an issue and really write a long and thoughtful post. I still see countless blogs out there, especially in the tech arena, that do just that, publish longer posts about issues that could not fit within the confines of current social media services.

Kottke even admits that while he only follows two blogs nowadays, he reads lots of blog posts, he just finds the blog posts through social media now. Thus, people are still reading blogs, it’s just they find them differently. That is the biggest change to blogging over the years; people may not regularly follow blogs as much, but blogs actually have a much wider reach today. Blog posts can expand exponentially beyond a blog’s regular readership by becoming viral on social media. I’m not sure if that’s better than the old system, but it’s just the way things are today. So blogs are not dead in my book, they’ve simply evolved from what people thought they would be a decade ago.

Right on the heals of the blog being dead, another minor eruption occurred yesterday when Ben Brooks wrote a scathing piece condemning podcasts. I was going to write a bit about this, but stumbled upon an article by Sid O’Neil which astutely addresses this issue. I especially loved this analogy:

So there are some crappy podcasts out there. Guess what, there are crappy versions of everything good. Just because you don’t like the cardboard taste of Target-brand honey nut cornflakes doesn’t mean you throw up your hands in the aisle and swear off cereal for the rest of your life.

I have more thoughts on podcasting in general but will leave that for another time.

Old Podcast(s) of the Day:

1) (Ben Brooks Approved) This American Life # 470 “Show Me The Way.” This episode includes a segment entitled “Just South of the Unicorns” which tells a story of a young boy who runs away to meet his favorite science-fiction writer, Piers Anthony. Its one of those stories that has stuck with me ever since listening to this episode.

2) (Ben Brooks Disapproved) Bionic # 68 “Human Classification Department.” Just two guys throwing in-jokes back and forth, coming up with mythical volcano floor plans, and generally jerking each other off. Enjoy.

Email me a random question and I’ll answer that question personally. It can be about anything, from what my first computer was to whether man will ever discover the ultimate meaning of life?