Sunday, 17 November 2019

Bloggers on Blogging: The All-Star Lineup

DAMMIT JANET! turns ten years old today. Well, I thought it did, until I started looking for the first blog post.

Turns out deBeauxOs and I started this site 11 years ago.

As the kids say: whatevs.

It's hard to believe now how vibrant the blogosphere was back then. First order of the day's business was to see if yesterday's post had attracted any comments overnight. Then on to check out what others were talking about.

The easiest way to find out what was happening was to go to an aggregator. DJ! was on Progressive Bloggers. (Good grief, it still exists.) We were accepted reluctantly. Admins made a point of telling us that our acceptance was "not unanimous."

Many of the blogs on our blogroll over there on the right were also on ProgBlogs. I've clicked on a few links and found that at best, they have sporadic posting, at worst they've disappeared completely. Some are just ghosts, frozen at their last offering years ago. Two that I know of are still posting regularly: Montreal Simon and Accidental Deliberations. Good on them.

So -- as it turns out on false pretenses -- to celebrate what I thought was our tenth anniversary, we invited some of our old blogger pals to reflect on the Good Old Days.™ (This is not to say they will blog on blogging. But they've been told that's what we were going to call the series, but, you know, trying to herd bloggers is futile.)

Over the rest of the month, we'll publish their contributions.

Here's the first up, by Catelli.


On Blogging

Coincidences can be fun sometimes. Often when I am in my car, or in the shower I ruminate on topics that interest me. A recurring topic lately that I have been pondering has been on Blogging, and how I miss those days. Lo and behold, Fern reaches out to me and asks if I would be interested in sharing my musings on that topic. (Happy 10 year anniversary to the DJ group! You made it longer than most!)

A little backstory on who I am, or was. The first part of the 21st century were heady days politically. The echo of the 1995 Quebec referendum was still playing out, the Adscam scandal was exploding and we had two Conservative parties vying for attention. Throw in 9/11 and the mess that resulted from that (massive understatement here) and there was no shortage of opinions and hot takes and outrage. It was in this environment that I jumped into blogging as Closet Liberal. I was pissed at what the Liberal Party of Canada had become, and my blogging identity was a mocking reflection that the Liberal party had driven this liberal into the closet.

Time passed and I felt that identity was too constraining. I deleted that blog, and resurrected as Catelli, with a new blog “Not Quite Unhinged.” Catelli is an old nickname from high school, and the blog name was a reflection of what I felt and still feel. That our politics and our society is pushing me to being a little bit, but not quite, unhinged. Let’s just say it’s a good thing Canada doesn’t have easily accessible volcanoes to throw oneself into. That character is now hanging around as Catelli2.0 on Twitter. (

Back then I didn’t really move in the same blogging circles as the DJ group, though I was certainly aware of them. It took Twitter to bring us all together…..

I held onto Blogging as long as I could. But one by one, all of the blogs I frequented were going silent. Their owners had jumped onto this platform called Twitter. Eventually, as an opinionated fellow that hated shouting into a vacuum of silence, I made the jump too. I tried to keep my blog alive as the best platform for long form thoughts. Twitter with its then 140 character limit and horrible threading ability was too limiting. But I noticed an odd thing. Even though I have a pretty well engaged Twitter follower list, hardly anyone read my blog posts. Even though I would promote them on Twitter, repeatedly, I would only get a few reads at most.

And that basically ended blogging for me. Twitter threads are where it’s at! Until a new platform turns Twitter into a wasteland.

But I can’t help missing those days. The conversations I had then were enlightening, fun, engaging and at times infuriating. But it truly felt like a true debating platform. That’s what it was for me. The group I engaged with didn’t argue, we debated. It’s from that perspective that I really do miss Olaf of Prairie Wrangler and John of Dymaxion World. Those two in particular challenged this centrist from the right and the left, respectively.

Do I blame Twitter for ending that though? Not really. Twitter makes it easier to keep track of conversations and interactions, which is what I was using a blog for. But I had to jump around from blog to blog to blog to monitor the comment sections. It wasn’t convenient or efficient.

I think what I truly liked about blogging is what I am starting to dislike about Twitter.
Learning new things. It’s why I joined both. To opine and to learn. It’s easy to have opinions, but learning new ideas, facts and concepts is where it really was at for me.

Back then the conversations were focused, usually on the blog topic at hand. I learned a lot, but it was trickling in, and easily digestible. Reading blogs in many ways was like reading a book. You could pause and absorb the information in. You chose the speed by which you obtained that information.

Twitter on the other hand is a firehose of information. It is 14 dozen cable news networks all at once. And if you watch a lot of cable news, you start getting depressed. The stark reality of Twitter is that it can be a real-time window onto the entire world. There is so much going on at once that I feel insignificant and ineffectual. Even the topics I care about are swamped by the issues that are piling on every day. I couldn’t even get people to read my blog, how the hell do I get enough time from people to care about what I care about? The fault doesn’t lie with Twitter, it’s just the vehicle delivering the overwhelming reality of the world right now. The Liberal International Order we all thought we were building turned out to be a fragile illusion that is collapsing worldwide. And we’re watching it live.

I don’t mean for this retrospective to be depressing. I guess it’s part of human nature that witnessing terrible things causes us to look back with rose tinted fondness at events in our past. It’s moments when you start to miss George W. Bush that make you realize, “Holy hell!? Really? That war criminal?”

If Twitter never existed and we were still on blogs, the horrible news that affects us would still be happening. Maybe I would just be able to hold onto blissful ignorance a little bit longer.

So do I miss blogging? I miss some of the people I knew. I have found so many more since then, so maybe I should just count my blessings. 187 Tweeps on Twitter is worth a few bloggers in the archive.

But yeah, I do miss the fun and the excitement of it all. It was a moment in time that I will cherish. I am glad I was there for it, and that I participated. And thanks for the memories to all that were there for it. You made it worth it.


ricky said...

Very similar to my experience since the arrival of Twitter. I enjoyed blogging, now its virtually all Twitter.

The 24 hour news cycle has changed us all.

Anonymous said...

Forums and blogs were where I entered the internet community, and I'm grateful to all who did the work of running them and writing for them. I learned so much and I miss many of them, though I'm mostly on twitter now.
Anyway, thanks and good luck.
Holly Stick, now @softgrasswalker

Scott Tribe said...

There were some heated disagreements back in the day. THat said.. I congratulate you on your anniversary.

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