Sunday, April 10, 2005

RUMINATIONS ON THE DECLINE OF THIS BLOG

Well, when people start asking you to post something you know you're neglegting your blog. I suppose though its a good sign that someone is still interested.

I believe this blog peaked both in quality and quantity of output in early 2004 (second semester of the 2003-04 academic year, which is the calendar I am perpetualy running on). My site traffic, which has always been quite modest, peaked in March of that year with just over 1,500 visitors. Over the summer of 2004 my posting slowed to a near halt. I attributed that to the fact that it was the summer and that I was living at home, which were not my accustomed blogging conditions. I may have taken as a sign the fact that I barely posted despite the fact that there was a federal election going on, but again, it was warm and sunny outside, and that doesn't last long in this country.

However, upon return to the life of academics for a new degree in a new town my blogging did not increase. Again, I could attribute this to new conditions, but really its been almost eight months now doing an M.A in Kingston. I could attribute the lack of posting to the work load, which would probably be partially correct but I'm not trying to make excuses here, all appearances to the contrary.

The fact is that I think over the past year I've been losing interest in blogging, which has been aggrivated by all the above mentioned factors. I still love reading blogs, and commenting on other people's blogs (as some of you have probably noticed), and I love the idea of having my own blog, but I just can't seem to bring myself to post to it.

Most days it just acts as a conveniently personalized home page. The fact that I haven't even been using blogging as a procrastination tool I think is indicative of my attitude. Nor is the problem a total absence of free time. Certainly I'm quite adept at creating free time for myself. If you read today's Toronto Star piece on Leisure and Idleness, I often tend towards the idle end of the spectrum. Nevertheless I have found in my idle moments there are simply other things I would rather be doing. And yet, a little part of me still looks at the daily news and events of life in terms of blog topics; but they are topics that seem destined to never be posted.

With the departure of my beloved blog On the Fence, which was so well written and so regularly produced, I wonder if some people are simply not suited for long-term blogging. The number of abandoned blogs certainly suggests this.

What is it exactly that makes people return to this medium day after day? There are many who do it so well yet even the best and the most read don't reach the audience of most professional newspaper columnists, many of whom clearly couldn't articulate an intelligent opinion if they were paid to do it. And yet most bloggers do this for free.

Anyway, the blog has certainly been in decline, and I thank those few of you who have continued to come by and check on its diminishing status. Most of me thinks that I should simply shut it down, yet I can't bring myslef to do so. Unlike Nestruck I don't have the will power to leave entirely, let alone when I'm at my peak (of course I don't have a national newspaper as an alternative outlet).

So my plan is to keep 'Living in a Society' on life support; it would seem perhaps doubly ironic to withdraw my blog from the 'sphere given its name and my initial enthusiasm for blogs as a 21st century manifestation of the 18th century public sphere. There will continue to be very little here through the rest of this month and into early May, at which point I will make one fresh attempt to re-start.

Currently I am writing three papers (for the aforementioned M.A) in the span of one month (procrastination, research delays, don't ask). Come May I will have only one paper to write over the span of four months. True, this summer paper has to be substantially better than the current three but simply not having to go through the process of starting and researching three different papers should give me more time. With no excuses of time constraints, a settled existence in Kingston and (hopefully) a re-newed inspiration to post, I will try and revive this blog. If by September, Living in a Society is still limping along, that will be it. I'll shut it down.

I try to keep my blog pretty impersonal (in keeping with the principles of the enlightened public sphere), but putting this onto the pages of the blog makes it a little more real and I'm sure somebody will remind me of my committment. I write this, mostly as a bargain with myself (if you've read this far, yeah, sorry this is all you're getting, maybe I should have warned you at the beginning).

Posted by Matthew @ 10:29 PM