Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Searching for the Forest

Barbara here. Reading the last few posts on this blog, I’m struck by how varied and thoughtful they are. Eight authors share this blog, each with our own voice and interests, covering the spectrum from young to old, cozy to dark and from the US, Canada and the UK. Vicki Delany made the inaugural post on July 26, 2006, and in the past five and a half years, 1406 blogs have been posted. Some have been funny, some poignant, others profound. We all share a passion for crime fiction, but beyond that our individual blog posts are full of variety and surprises. Our unifying hope is that our blog will reach out and touch people.

Coming up with a good blog every week or two is a challenge; it steals time that would otherwise go to creative writing, research or other promotional pursuits. Some of us, like myself, belong to two blogs, making the challenge even more difficult. Sometimes it feels daunting. There are literally thousands of blogs out in the cyber marketplace. Is anyone reading this one beyond a handful of die-hard friends? Should we be devoting those precious hours to our website, our Goodreads profile, or our Facebook page instead.

This past week saw the demise of one of the longest-running crime-writers’ blogs, The Lipstick Chronicles. The authors felt that the blog was a dying medium, that other social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter had superceded it as the point of contact between authors and readers and as a means of spreading ideas. People no longer have the time nor the patience to read blogs, and prefer the shorter, more interactive format of FB and Twitter.

If this is so, then there will be a cost, intellectually. In a world increasingly informed by shallow slogans and catchy sound bites, deeper understanding and analysis fall by the wayside. No idea can be adequately explored in 140 characters, nor in the short exchanges of a Facebook update. Not all blogs are profound, but at their best, blogs allow the writer to develop an idea, share an observation, or provide information at a level that is more than skin deep. They allow the reader to reflect, to focus and to delve into an experience beyond a fleeting moment. If we value the continuation of an informed and thoughtful society, surely that’s important.

But do we?

A blog is usually 400 – 800 words. A mere five minutes. But is that too long in today’s world? Too long for today’s distracted, impatient, restless reader? Is the blog, like the essay, a dying medium in this cyber world that no longer looks for the forest in the trees?


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Vicki Delany said...

The problem with blogs, I think, is that you have to sort through the hundred posts on BSP, banalities, interests-not-your-own, to get to something interesting. Such as this piece. I still enjoy Type M and read it a couple of times a week.

Rick Blechta said...

I believe you've hit the nail on the head, Vicki. A successful blog can't be only about it's contributors. It has to provide useful information or host interesting discussions. The promotional benefits comes only peripherally by engaging people and hopefully getting them interested in what you do. Simply talking about yourself and your experiences all the time gets old pretty quickly.

Good post, Barbara. Thanks.

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Charlotte Hinger said...

Barbara, I'm going to up my posting on newsgroups, etc. next year. Yet, sometimes I find the sheer volume of sites overwheming. My daughter's corporation just bought a heavily focused internet company and she's very interested in seeing what it takes to increase sales.