One way to know yourself and your own country is to listen to or read foreigners’ observations and impressions. What does it mean to be American? What are the most memorable places to visit in North, Central and Soth America? I've seen a lot of North America, almost nothing of Central and South America (so far). I thought it would be interesting to try to write about these continents from the perspectives not of natives but of foreign visitors seeing with fresh eyes. Admittedly, that's hard for a native of the U.S. to do. But over time, it might be possible to pull off. I also post foreigners' perspectives. http://exploringnorthcentralandsouthamerica.wordpress.com
After 15 years of blogging, building a readership of a million, a paid subscriber base of about three percent (30,000), revenue of one million dollars, and a paid staff of (slightly less than) 10, Andrew Sullivan (AndrewSullivan.com) stopped blogging on Feb. 6, 2015. He's giving it up to first, rest, because he's close to burn-out, and then pursue other forms of writing where he can take a longer view.
After working so hard to build a business, he seemingly walks away from a million dollars in revenue, and a loyal online community. I certainly don't blame him for wanting to escape the daily, or hourly grind. As one of his paid subscribers, I thought he was mainly guilty of over-producing: few readers who have a real life off-line had time to read everything his blog produced.
The experience, Sullivan said, was often dehumanizing.
"Here's what I would say: I spent a decade of my life, spending around seven hours a day in intimate conversation with around 70,000 to 100,000 people every day, " Sullivan said. "And inevitably, for those seven hours or more, I was not spending time with any actual human being, with a face and a body and a mind and a soul."
Sullivan said the job resulted in lost friendships and minimal contact with his family. He said his husband, whom Sullivan married in 2007, called himself a "blog widow."
No longer tethered to his computer, Sullivan said he's resolved to exercise and meditate each day, and to get eight hours of sleep. He expressed relief that he wasn't forced to cover the recent controversy over Hillary Clinton's emails.
"I couldn't imagine blogging the next election," he said. "I will not spend another minute of my time writing about the Clintons. Period. Or the Bushes."
Another blogging pioneer, Ed Cone of Greensboro, NC, who started daily blogging in 2002, stopped in 2014, though he continues to post occasionally. He wrote: "I still use this blog to store some things and (hopefully, eventually) will write or post some longer things here. On things that are well covered elsewhere and to which I have nothing of substance to add...I'm done. The zeitgeist does not need me, and I do not need it."
The early passion for blogging, for creating an online community on one's own platform, and for heated political debate, have clearly dissipated across the Internet. Certainly the tendency to divide into hyper-partisan, warring tribes and to simply score ideological points got tiresome. While I don't miss the vitriol, I do sometimes miss asking penetrating questions, and the challenge of answering others' penetrating questions.
The aggregation function of blogs like Sullivan's and Cone's has been displaced by the popularity of Facebook and Twitter, where anyone can post links to articles they find interesting; others can "like," or comment, and a viral meme spreads almost automatically.
Some have called recent developments "the end of blogging." What do you think?
Requiem for Blogging (Mashable.com). "Personal blogging for a mass audience has pretty much gone the way of the dodo...These days, if you have something to say and it won't fit in a single tweet (or a tweetstorm), you have so many more compelling options than blogging. You can post on Facebook if it's just for friends, or Tumblr if it's image-based, or on Medium if you want a think piece shared more widely, or LinkedIn, or any one of a hundred other sites and services that are thirsty for content."
The Online Conversation That's Dying Out, by Ezra Klein. "Blogging, for better or worse, is proving resistant to scale...the bigger the site gets, and the bigger the business gets, the harder it is to retain the original voice...The cost of being unedited is too high."
What's surprising, and a little depressing, as I move the best of my blog content since 2004 to thematic blogs on Wordpress, is the number of broken links. You may think that the best of what you read online will always be there, but most online content seems to disappear after just a few years. Some of it can still be found at archive.org.
After 10 years of blogging, I'm gradually migrating content to thematic blogs that I may turn into premium content or downloadable ebooks. It's a way of exploring topics in more depth, bringing more focus to my writing, and trying to create online communities of people with shared interests.
Your comments and insights are most welcome.
Thoughts on Communication and Media. From the perspective of a communications professional working and teaching in the Middle East,I exploreissues primarily of interest to my students studying New Media, Media Law, Research Methods, Media History, Storytelling, and Writing for Journalism and Public Relations. I try to keep up with trends and legal cases in Communications.http://jimbuie.wordpress.com.
Turkish Adventure: For two years, from 2009 through 2011, I was fortunate to live and teach in Central Turkey, and to explore the neighborhood. I remain intensely interested in Turkey. http://jimbuie.blogs.com/turkey
Exploring the Middle East and Africa: I currently live and teach in the Middle East, and my family and I have wonderful opportunities to travel the region. The complexity and diversity of this part of the world are often lost by crisis-to-crisis news coverage (especially by U.S. media) that rarely drills beneath the surface or offers historical context. I'd like to try to do that at http://exploringthemiddleeast.wordpress.com. This site is currently marked private and password-protected, only visible to those with a keen interest. If you would like to check it out, drop me an email: jimbuie 2 at gmail dot com with the subject line: "Mideast Blog." (My email address is spelled out to avoid spambots.)
Slender Threads: 'What If's' of History: One of the best ways to understand history is to consider the alternatives that could have easily happened. We tend to see the past as an inevitable progression of events, but closer examination reveals just how much is the result of fate, chance, Providence, or whatever you want to call it. I also explore various theories of history. http://jimbuie.blogs.com/slenderthreads
Exploring Religion and Spirituality: From time to time on this blog, I have posted observations about religion and spirituality. I want to aggregate those posts on a separate blog, maybe refine some of them, and provide a place for exploring these topics in more depth than in an all-purpose blog. http://exploringreligionandspirituality.wordpress.com
Exploring Europe and Russia: I have posted occasionally on this blog about trips I've taken to various European countries, the UK, and to Russia. I want a place to aggregate those posts, and add to them. In 2014 and 2015, I anticipate visiting England, Austria, Spain, Scotland, and Ireland. On my bucket lists are several Eastern European countries as well. http://exploringeuropeandrussia.wordpress.com/
Exploring Presidents, Congress, Public Policy, Elections, US Supreme Court, & Washington, DC Culture: Here's where I focus my thoughts on these issues. http://pcppe.wordpress.com
Exploring North, Central and South America: I've seen a lot of North America, almost nothing of Central and South America (so far). I thought it would be interesting to try to write about these continents from the perspectives not of natives but of foreign visitors seeing with fresh eyes. Admittedly, that's hard for a native of the U.S. to do. But over time, it might be possible to pull off. I've made a meager start. http://exploringnorthcentralandsouthamerica.wordpress.com/
Erik Qualman, the creator of this video, has certainly generated curiosity about himself. I've now Googled him and checked out his Wikipedia profile. He's coined a word, "socialnomics: word of mouth on digital steroids."
The video is a good promotion for the growing importance of social media: "90% of consumers trust peer recommendations," compared to only 14% who trust advertising.
And I want to know more about how "we will no longer search for products and services...they will find us via social media."
I do think there's still a tangible sales pitch to be done on the ROI on social media, not simply that, as Qualman says, the ROI "is that your business will still exist in five years."
The quick factoids in this video raise a lot of questions:
What a surprise to discover that my blook -- blog plus book -- Teacher of Our Town: Lillian Secrest Buie -- was cited in August 2009 by "Online School" as among the "100 Best Book Blogs for History Buffs: This nonfiction blog will point you to historical books....This blog acts as a 'living memorial' for Lillian Secrest Buie, and it follows her story, her writings, and the book inspired by her life."
Previously, Cheryl Hagedorn of "Blooking Central" wrote a piece about my work, "Living Memorial Becomes Autobiographical Blook."
Michael Manning, New York Review of Books: "Over the past few months alone, a remarkable amount of original,
exciting, and creative (if also chaotic and maddening) material has
appeared on the Internet. The practice of journalism, far from being
leeched by the Web, is being reinvented there, with a variety of
fascinating experiments in the gathering, presentation, and delivery of
news. And unless the editors and executives at our top papers begin to
take note, they will hasten their own demise."
At the bookstore, I picked up a new book by blogger turned successful author Heather Armstrong. Don't underestimate the emerging power of this medium (despite the hype).
As I think about writing, reporting, editing and blogging from abroad (specifically Turkey), I'm looking for models of people who've done it successfully (for money). I've already cited the fine work of Bea Vanni, who coincidentally now lives not far from me in North Carolina. In the spirit of rewarding writers who've provided lots of invaluable information, I've emailed Bea and told her I want to make a donation to her blog, at least equivalent to the cost of a book, if her material were in book form.
Michael J. Totten may be another successful example. His "Middle East Journal" was the 2007 and 2008 Weblog Awards Winner for Best Mideast or Africa Blog. He writes frequently from Iraq, calling himself a "reader-funded foreign correspondent and foreign policy analyst who has reported from the Middle East, the Balkans, and the Caucasus." His work is published in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, NY Daily News, and Commentary.
Joel Achenbach: "Why oh why can't we have a better blogosphere? I vote for more polished prose emerging from thorough research.
Good writers (and good thinkers) rely on revision as an essential
element of the enterprise. In fact, I like Slate in particular because
that stuff has actually been edited, revised, trimmed, copy edited, and
all that jazz. It's filtered. Filters are good...Many, if not most, bloggers would benefit from greater
experimentation with revision, and might do well to resort a bit more
often to that timeless communication technique known as silence."