OBITUARY – BLOG, aka BLOGGER and LINKS.NET, aged 27 of Kamloops, Victoria and everywhere else, passed away on July 17, 2021 after a long progressive illness. Remembered fondly by owners of desktops, laptops, mobile devices and screen addicts everywhere Blog’s departure leaves a hole in the very pattern of our lives.
BLOGGER is predeceased by the telegraph, telephone, dictionary, encyclopedia, mentally alert grandparent and academic tutorial group. As a communication forum THE BLOG first allowed articulate humans (and at least one dog) to share the highs and lows of their days, sensational and very, very boring. Later as commercialism fixed its grip, blogs became content-oriented promotional channels for personal enrichment. It is believed that the future lies with short duration minimal depth exchanges on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and whatever Tok-tok is (unknown to this mortician).
In lieu of flowers please visit a crowd source of your choosing and contribute to a physical programme or initiative.
It was shocking to visit a colleague’s blog a few days ago and read that blogging is dead, hence the obituary above. As I have just started to sequentially share some thoughts, hopes, observations and dreams, this is indeed discouraging. This prediction came from the Rev. Canon Christopher Page a senior clergy leader from my former Diocese of British Columbia/Islands and Inlets. Christopher’s wonderful blog In a Spacious Place has provided me with so many sermon ideas, reflection themes, new avenues of spiritual inquiry and vocational encouragement. I cannot say how long he has published his blog (well over a decade I am sure) a worthy successor to countless monthly columns in our Diocesan Post newspaper. He is a fine writer, thoughtful theologian and a good pastor (who it seems will never retire – he should read some of my other blogs!). Christopher writes:
I know almost everyone says that blogging is over. Conventional wisdom suggests that blogs have been replaced by 280 characters on Twitter, pictures on Instagram, podcasts, and a multitude of other social media options that I do not begin to understand. But, I am hopelessly stubborn and find it hard to give up on lost causes. So I have blogged on that is until July 17, 2021 when he paused IASP indefinitely.
What does this mean for the rest of us? There are currently more than six hundred million blogs on the internet out of the 1.7 billion websites. The number of active bloggers in the United States is estimated to hit 31.7 million in 2020. Ninety-two percent of content marketers use blog posts as part of their marketing strategy. Approximately ten years ago, the late Dr. Christopher Lind, teacher, colleague and friend once noted that while everyone seemed to be blogging, few were reading the fruit of their labours.
Does this mean that conversation, critique and challenge must find a new home? If market-based content must replace exposition well then let it die I say. With Christopher I would say however that there is still a need for a public space for extended, shared reflection, for the comparing of notes and life experiences, for disciplined reactions to the challenges of the day, and for friendly banter and yes, for me at least, humour.
And then there’s the arts, arguably the sector most engaged and most skilled in the medium of the online blog. Check out the notes from my dear friend Lance Weisser. Christopher adds in his introduction to IASP the following:
I know a person who is a wonderful photographer. He walks all over the city taking pictures. He almost never shows the results to anyone. I don’t think he even looks at them very often himself. He says the point of his photography is not so much the photograph he produces. The point of his photography is to cause him to see. Without the discipline of a camera there are so many beautiful and mysterious things we rush past and never notice. The camera causes the photographer to stop. The camera causes the photographer to pay attention, to notice, to look more carefully. This blog is like my friend’s camera.
While the person described above is certainly not me, I love the sentiment that photography helps us engage the world all around us creatively and beautifully. I would also argue that the blog, as a short-essay format widely and easily accessible, still has a vital role in a public space. Here in Kamloops I work with a small group of activists who try in a humble way to transform our local community and move it, and ourselves, in more of a truly sustainable direction. Due to COVID in-person gathering restrictions we have not met in-person for many months now. So we Zoomers are all Zooming, all the time. We need to discover how to converse between meetings. Some find email cumbersome; others use Facebook and recently Messenger for conversation, these with limited success. Curiously enough we don’t like the telephone and snail mail is but an awkward memory. We have a website which I think includes a blog – obviously, I don’t use it.
The point is we are all trying to figure our how best to communicate and share matters of interest and importance. In a communication-saturated world we seem to have lost the best practices for well informed and researched debate and interactive learning. As the historic CBC Radio comedy show title goes, we run “madly off in all directions.” Let us pray friends for some depth in our deliberation and our dreaming. And yes, I shall attempt to do these very things in Take Note, my little blogging adventure. I do not plan to attend the funeral advertised above.