Sobering thoughts on the decline of blogging

A recent Newsweek article (http://www.newsweek.com/2010/08/09/take-this-blog-and-shove-it.html) about the decline of blogging has left me feeling melancholic about the sense of infinite possibility that has surrounded the World Wide Web since the mid-90s. Newsweek reports that fewer and fewer people are writing their own blogs, fewer and fewer people are contributing to Wikipedia, and that, increasingly, people are using the Internet to shop, tweet, and check their Facebook accounts. In the Literature and the World Wide Web class that I teach every summer, I expose my students to some of the earliest writers of digital fiction and poetry, and the ethos of these writers is, more or less, that you can do anything online: forms and genres no longer constrain, publishers and editors no longer guard the gates, and information and knowledge want to be free. Almost twenty years into the Internet, though, it seems like that sense of possibility is diminishing. Our experience with the ‘Net is increasingly limited to a number of highly formalized platforms (Google, Facebook, etc.), and the radical future we once imagined is failing to materialize. Maybe I’m being too pessimistic. Maybe I’ve just let the scare tactics of Newsweek get to me. I will admit to being nostalgic for the mid-90s and the sense of possibility that the Internet represented.

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