Link: Velcro City Tourist Board

In the vein of blogs seeing a revival, Paul Graham Raven over at Velcro City Tourist Board has a good post that’s worth a read about returning to blogging (I am hopeful that the revival proves true, but the rationale and reasons he calls out are valid regardless of whether he wanders off again):

Of course, that rolling discourse hasn’t vanished; it just migrated onto faster, more accessible and more populous platforms, and in doing so became far faster, far thinner, and far more clamorous. Sure, there’s still blogging going on, too, but it’s changed a lot, and in some places died back almost entirely: the Genre Fiction Blog Wars in which I was once a footsoldier appear to have gone full scorched-earth in the years since I went AWOL from the front lines, with many once-vital sites vanished, shuttered or abandoned; my RSS reader is full of URLs I still can’t quite bear to cull, in case they should suddenly start up again like a much-loved numbers station in the night. I’m looking for new sources more relevant to my current incarnation as an academic, but the process is slow, not least because the old tradition of cross-linking and inter-site commentary (and, yes, argument) has been replaced by something more decontextualised, more lone(ly)-voices-in-the-wilderness. I dunno, maybe it’s just me overinterpreting five years of change through a very personal lens, but it’s definitely not the same any more; you can make your own value-judgement on that qualitative shift.

I’ve felt it too — while I’ve certainly been noticing a return to the Isle of Blogging, the energy is different. Less optimistic, perhaps, but less drawn in by the desire for a crowd as well. We’re here because we want to be.

The Republic of Newsletters, the Isle of Blogging

Continuing with the topic of the revival of blogging, emailed newsletters and small communities, Warren Ellis also recently commented:

I miss that long moment when the web seemed full of people doing the same thing, or thinking in public. It happens in the Republic Of Newsletters, now. But it was nice to have all those little radio stations broadcasting in the night.

And later stated:

I’ve seen the idea circulating for a while: come off the streams, own your own platform for your own voice and your own complete statements. It seems like a reactionary step, from some angles. But maybe that great river, The Conversation, was, like every river followed to its source, a dead end. The resurgence of the Republic Of Newsletters may be one aspect of a return to the ocean, dotted with little pirate radio stations broadcasting through the night again.

I like this metaphor (or combination of metaphors), and I agree. I’ve got a few newsletters I’m subscribed to at the moment, and I really appreciate them, particularly the ones that are a little more human, sharing a bit of the personal alongside whatever other interesting things they’re wanting to share. The same can be said for my favorite blogs, the ones I read without fail and never gloss over.

What I Use: RSS

I encourage people to subscribe to my site via RSS, when mentioning I have a site on the Facebooks and Twitters and similar. This may seem a little archaic (that is so 2008), but honestly RSS is still one of my go-to solutions for finding worthwhile things to read, watch, or experience.

One of the big reasons you don’t really see RSS mentioned anymore (despite folks actually using it often, without realizing it… looking at you, podcasts) is because Google stupidly shut down Google Reader, which was the de facto standard for reading your feeds. That killed a lot of momentum for its use.

While RSS may be limping along, it’s not dead, and a lot of sites actually do have RSS feeds, still — they just aren’t as prominently noted or advertised or linked anywhere.

Of course, even if you do decide to use RSS, there’s still the hurdle of finding an RSS reader you actually like. A lot of folks go with a web-based option (ala Google Reader), so they can read on whatever device they happen to be on. There’s also some pretty nice apps for sale (for instance, NetNewsWire), if you’re so inclined, and a lot of RSS-adjacent apps (like several web browsers, and even Apple Mail) are available as well. Personally, I use Vienna RSS, which is an open source project made for macOS. I’ve tried a bunch of other apps and methods, and this is the one I keep coming back to (there was a gap where development wasn’t really happening much, so I looked around a fair bit, but regular updates are happening again). It’s fairly fast, robust, and seems to handle a ton of feeds well. If you’re looking for a reader, I’d say it’s worth a try.

I recently went through and cleaned up my RSS feeds, getting rid of dead feeds. I just want to say, to all those bloggers who have continued to post after the blogging fad wore off: I salute you, and I’m still reading.

Blog Lifecycle

  • Blogger creates blog.
  • A huge flurry of initial posts ensues. Blogger describes such mundane topics as taking his family to McDonald’s.
  • Blogger realizes that perhaps the rest of the world isn’t so interested in his musings on McDonald’s.
  • Posting frequency drops off.
  • A last post or two.
  • Blog goes into hiatus.
  • […]

  • After some time away, blogger returns with a few posts.

(A Brief Return at Philsteinmeyer.com)

Welcome back, Phil.