UPDATE, 10 January: In the planting below I note that sharp decline in readership recently. Then yesterday turned out to be a day with by far more visits than any in recnt months. Go figure.
I have never read any of Michael Berube’s academic writings (which he describes as “literature and
cultural dangeral studies”), but I have enjoyed his terrific gift of writing at Le Blogue BÃ©rubÃ©. Alas, no more; he has decided that the latter interferes with the former (and other pursuits) too much.
He makes some valid points, similar to those I wrestle with from time to time–especially as the count of daily visitors has declined rather sharply in recent months–even as I continue (mostly) to see blogging as beneficial, on balance. From Michael’s post, Til we meet again:
OK, so let me try to answer the most serious question Iâ€™ve gotten about this decision: why not just cut down? Post something under 2000 words for a change? Post once a week or once a month, instead of maniacally posting every weekday? [...]
Iâ€™ve tried that, actually, but it doesnâ€™t work. Blog maintenance on this scale is a daily, sometimes hourly thing, regardless of whether thereâ€™s a new post up. And even if I didnâ€™t try to maintain the blog on this scale (a good idea in itself), thereâ€™s still the problem of the invisible blogging. I donâ€™t write these posts out in advance, you know. I sit down for an hour or two (more for the really long posts), write them in one take in WordPerfect, look â€˜em over, transfer â€˜em to the blog, preview, edit, submit, and then proofread one last time once theyâ€™re up. (Because sometimes you canâ€™t catch a typo until itâ€™s really up there on the blog, and even then, Iâ€™ve missed a bunch so far.) Which means, among other things, that I do a great deal of the planning-before-the-writing while Iâ€™m not blogging. And thatâ€™s whatâ€™s been so mentally exhausting. Itâ€™s like ABC from Glengarry Glen Ross: Always Be Composing. And while itâ€™s been great mental exercise, and itâ€™s compelled me to think out (and commit myself in public to) any number of things that otherwise would have laid around the mental toolshed for years, itâ€™s not the kind of thing I can keep up forever, and it wouldnâ€™t be seriously affected if I went to a lighter posting schedule. Iâ€™d still spend way too much time thinking about the Next Post and the Post After That.
Well, I can certainly relate to that part about typos! I just can’t see them till they get up on the blog–if then. (The new version of Firefox helps, by highlighting things it thinks are typos in this editing window.) And I can relate to his remark about “thinking about the Next Post and the Post After That.” However, in most cases, I have never gotten around to the Next Post and the Post After That (even ones I “promised” in the Last Post), which makes the blog less complete than it could be–but also less time-consuming.
On balance, then, I still find the part about thinking out and committing to things that would otherwise lie around “the mental toolshed” as a big advantage of this medium. And, of course, I already keep a lighter posting schedule than Michael did. Moreover, the lighter readership and (for lack of a better term) commentatorship here at F&V means that my regular maintenance is less than Michael has faced.
In any event, I understand where Michael is coming from (or perhaps I should say, going to), but I’ll miss his good blogging. (Fortunately, he says he will keep the archives up. If you haven’t been reading, head over there and see what I am talking about!)
hat tip: Dan Drezner.
Emphasis in Michael Berube’s original post; internal links suppressed.