This is How it Happens [en]

[fr] Comment on se retrouve à ne pas bloguer. Un nième article sur la question, avec des éléments nouveaux, bien sûr!

A week goes by, and then another. Things happen. Thoughts are thought, deeds are done, ideas are adopted and then cast away. The backlog builds up.

Many years ago, when a large part of my work was giving talks about “blogs” and “the social web”, I would explain how blogs did something quite special, compared to (then) more familiar forms of offline publication: they connected the reader to the author.


In a hypertext environment, where anybody can reference my writing and comment upon it (even more so when blogs started having comments built in — yup, it wasn’t always the case), the person reading you suddenly has a voice and an existence too. Writing is not sending out messages into the void anymore. It is the beginning of a conversation, of an exchange. And that kind of interaction brings people closer, creates relationships, and even some sort of intimacy. Think “pen pals”. An opportunity for creating rapport.

Social tools do this, not just blogs. When Twitter started becoming popular, we talked about ambient intimacy, for example. The rise of social media and its “massification” meant that this kind of privileged relationship was no more the exclusivity of bloggers and their readers. Everybody online was doing it, in the end. Is.

My blog used to be the place I went, because I had no other, to share things with my tribe online. Thoughts, events, stuff.

Then Twitter came along. And Facebook. Now, my “go to” space is Facebook. But things drown, on Facebook. And as “everyone” is on Facebook, this sense of “special connection” I had with my readers in the early blogging days is gone. But I keep on blogging, because I want my writing to stick around. And more and more, I’m realising, the place where I feel this “special connection” is present is in my newsletters. I actually sent out an “intermittent newsletter” the other day, believe it or not.

So this is how it happens. My urge to publish is satisfied by sharing things on Facebook or having conversations on Slack (previously: IRC), the sense of connection to my readers has moved away from here (most people will comment on a blog post in… Facebook, see?), and time always goes by faster than we think it will. (Oh, regarding the “urge to write” thing: I just remembered that I’d experienced this before, when I invited my readers to vote on what I would write about. Remember? Once I’d written the headline, and the heat of the moment had cooled off, I didn’t feel excited about writing the post anymore.)

The things to say pile up, the barrier to writing goes up, the number of posts goes down.

I have a few brewing right now. I’m hoping these few days at the chalet will provide me with a little space to write. (Oh, you want to know what’s coming? Something about Pokémon GO and Ingress and my analysis of their respective community dynamics. And stuff about the rift in public discourse about political or scientific topics — filter bubble, yes, but more than that: also a shift in the role of the media.)

That’ll be it for now. Want to feel special? Sign up for my intermittent newsletter.

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