The Good Old Days

I started blogging way back in 2006 (not long before, but) before Facebook was available to the general public. I’d been encouraged to do so by three people. One was one of my former bosses, who never blogged (that I know of) but who has always encouraged me to write. The other was my brother Ian, who blogged back then, and (much to everyone who ever read his blog’s disappointment) no longer blogs. The third was my former colleague (and now dear friend) Danny, who also had a blog I read religiously but who no longer blogs there (although he’s still very active in other blogging ways). It may sound weird to talk about the good old days of blogging, after only 8 years, but I’m here to do just that.

Back when people still had attention spans (i.e. pre-Facebook, pre-Twitter, pre-everyone-owns-a-Smartphone-and-texts days), people used to write long, thoughtful blog posts. I (surprise! surprise!) managed to find myself in a bookish blogging community, and it really was great fun. I couldn’t wait to go through my blog roll each day and see what my blogging friends had to say. And they truly did become friends. We supported each other, encouraged each other, shared books and life’s ups-and-downs with each other. My oldest blog is a wonderful record of how others supported me through such things as the death of my father-in-law, the death of our dog, the ups-and-downs of my feelings about moving to a place in Pennsylvania I’d never been until Bob had an interview there, my lay-off from a job I adored, etc.

It was a great time. The Golden Years of Blogging. I nicknamed my blogging friends. I met some of them in real life, and we became real life friends. I even arranged a blogger meet-up in New York City when one of our “gang” traveled from Germany to celebrate her fortieth birthday. I’ll never forget that exciting drive from Pennsylvania to New York, anticipating our day. Where did we wind up? The Strand. But, of course!

We created (book-themed) challenges for each other. If you don’t know what that is, here’s an example: “Read 12 classics you’ve never read during the next 12 months and write blog posts about them. (Yes, “write blog posts”. We were a bit snobbish. You didn’t “blog”. “Blog” was not a verb. It was a noun that stood for “web log.” No one “web logged”. They “wrote blog posts”. Only those who didn’t know what they were doing “blogged”.) Some were fancier than others, creating their own sites and buttons and everything, but all were legitimate, and we participated in memes that were far more thoughtful and fun than what one finds on Facebook today.

There were, of course, problems in those good old days of blogging. For instance, when I first began, there were no buttons for italicizing, bolding, or crossing out type. You had to go into html view and add formatting commands if you wanted them. We had fewer blog templates, and they were more difficult to customize, so I just didn’t. Adding and moving photos around was nowhere near as easy as it is today. I was sometimes frustrated when I couldn’t figure out how to do what I wanted to do. Nonetheless, the satisfaction I got from blogging far outweighed those frustrations.

Fast forward 8+ years. I haven’t blogged (yes, the snobby blogger in me now accepts the verb form, because the editor in me knows about evolving vernacular) much at all for the past 2+ years. I’ve created a few new blogs and have redesigned my original blog with the hopes that I would, but, well, I just haven’t spent much time in the blogosphere (that term still exists, right?). I’ve missed it, though, so I decided I’d get back to it. I could’ve just tried, yet again, to breathe new life into my old blog, but that blog was anonymous, and I’d rather it remained so. That means I’d never link to it on my Facebook page, which I’d like to be able to do.

What to do but to start a new blog, right? Well, much easier said than done. Since 2006, popular blog sites have been bought out by major companies like Google and Yahoo. It’s very hard to start a new blog without linking it to any old blogs you might have out there, especially if you don’t want to delete your old blogs. My first idea was to try a new blogging site altogether. I was hoping that maybe, since so many others are free, Typepad would now offer free service but no such luck. Next, I decided to try Weebly — supposedly really easy but not the least bit intuitive, even for someone like me who’s been blogging for years. Tumblr seemed like anther natural choice. Again, I couldn’t figure out how to do what I wanted. As with everything else in life these days, the “help” features were impossibly unhelpful, written to explain the obvious while ignoring what I really needed and wanted to know. “Frustrated” doesn’t begin to describe how I felt. How could it be that creating a new blog had become not easier, it seemed, but, rather more difficult than it had been back in 2006?

Finally, I said “$%&! it” and just decided to go with WordPress. WordPress has its faults, but at least I basically know how to use it. I’m not too keen on the fact that it’s linked to Gravitar, where I have a few identities, one of which links to my old blog and seems to be its default, but I’ve managed to get around that. It took me a while to figure out some of the features of adding photos, and I’m not sure that I won’t eventually want to customize its appearance, but for the most part, I’m very happy to be back in the blogosphere again, visiting old friends and meeting new ones.

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10 thoughts on “The Good Old Days

  1. Yes-those good old days. I was thinking about that meetup in NYC just a few weeks ago & was surprised to realize how long ago it was. I laugh to think of the reaction of my friend I stayed with: Friend: “You’re coming to NYC to meet a South African who lives in Germany???”
    Me: “Yes. And others.”
    Friend: “And you’ve never met them?And you write frequently on the web? About what?”

    I chose not to tell her that I wasn’t even sure of some peoples real names!

    I may have hundreds more “followers” on my current blog than I did then, but far fewer viewers and I think it is seldom that anyone actually reads it or leaves a thoughtful comment.

    Yes, video killed the radio star. I miss those early days of blogging.

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  2. Okay ladies, time to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. Part of the reason so many thoughtful blogs have gone by the wayside is because we all became ensnared in facebook/twitter/etc as well. On my blog I have REALLY tried not to give in to the mentality of having to go graphic heavy, text light. I think we could have a NEW golden age of blogging if a bunch of us committed to putting content out that was substantial and interesting – look what Litlove is doing with her new online zine. And Cam – I love your blog. I don’t comment as often because I’m not terribly familiar with photography but I do really enjoy your work.

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    • I agree, Ms. Sandwich — my first new nickname! At first, I thought I’d start a blog with shorter posts (something inbetween a typical Facebook status and a long blog post), but then I realized I didn’t want to switch from full-fat blog to blog lite.

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  3. I’ve been blogging for 11 years, started at Blogger when there were maybe 8 templates to choose from. I learned HTML and Blogger’s special codes and had a blast tinkering with everything. It was interesting times then. Blogs were looked down on and I remember taking a writing class and mentioning I blogged and had several people sneer and snort at me for being so lame and obviously not a serious writer. It’s still interesting times because while blogging is supposed to be “over” it really isn’t and there are still interesting things being done and forever new voices cropping up. I’ve been at WordPress for a very long time and at first I missed not being able to tinker with the html unless I paid for the privilege, I’m kinda glad I don’t have to. I still add my own code to my posts because the wysiwyg interface annoys the heck out of me. Anyway, all that to say, I remember those times, things are still good, and I am glad you are back 🙂

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    • Stef, you’ve always been the most experienced of my blogging pals. And, gosh, I’d all but forgotten how people used to look down on blogging, but yes, they did. Also, remember how professional book reviewers used to frown on lit blogs? That was, obviously, well before the days when people automatically checked Amazon reviews in order to make decisions about what books to read.

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  4. Emily! You’re back! Hurray!!!

    It’s strange how blogging has changed and is still changing, isn’t it? Or writing posts…..when I joined 7 years ago, began writing a blog, it was the new in thing, and supposed to be about what I loved (or that was why I did it, anyway). Along the way something happened, and our opinions and discussions about books got put aside by – to my view – who had the most followers, stats, who could read the most books and be up to date on books as well as raising a family and working and everything. Most of the time I ignored it, making a conscious decision to do so. What I have found is that so many blogs have gone silent, or are not blogged on the same way (daily or 2-3 times a week), or have expanded to include more life stuff of the writer. I don’t mind the latter, though I do miss the ones that have gone silent. I’m not sure what caused the change….maybe some of the furors over nothing that kept happening? Anyway, it is different now, it’s not a tightknit group of people who shared the same interests, though those bloggers are still there in the midst of the new bloggers coming in. So – I don’t know how blogging is going to change, or return to its roots. I do know for myself that I even when I stay away (for various reasons in my personal life), I miss being here, talking about books, connecting with friends I’ve made.

    I think blogging has replaced letter writing in the modern world, when it’s done the way we all did it then. So here’s hoping we find a way to keep the connecting feeling going!

    By the way, WordPress hates me. so I have to use my Google (and yes I don’t know how Google gets connected to WordPress but not blogger, sigh) site to sign in with here.
    Susan at You Can Never Have Too Many Books blog

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    • Susan, nice to hear from you! Let’s take the competitiveness you’ve experienced out of blogging and bring back the fun. (I’d never win such a competition anyway, barely manage to figure out my stats.) And bring back the tight knit group that many of us miss.

      Oh, and both WordPress and Blogger hate me. There needs to be a new blogging site that combines the best of both (and loves me, while we’re at it).

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