New Neighbor

Brimson House

I read Prominent Blogger Jason Kottke’s piece about the death of blogs, and I admit I was kinda bummed about it. Suspicion: your passion is yesterday’s news, and everyone else has moved on to other things. Quibbles with Prominent Blogger’s piece notwithstanding, the mere fact that he wrote it is like writing on the sky: Suspicion Confirmed. Bloggerton is no longer a boom town. Gravel roads from here on out, folks.

It fits well with Alex Wild’s famous quote that he made up twenty hours ago:

Being a naturalist in the 21st century is like being an art enthusiast in a world where an art museum burns to the ground every year.

— For ‘naturalist’, substitute ‘personal publishing enthusiast’. See what I mean? Sadness.

Then, this morning, I read a lovely post by Prominent Designer Frank Chimero.

Folks, we’re going to have a new neighbor. Merry Christmas.

I find your on-going thread on this topic (including your decision to abstain from social media until the end of the year) interesting. Years ago when this all started I saw (or felt) the burn-out that others are now experiencing. Or maybe my personality just made me averse. Whatever the case, I have a Twitter acount, but find myself using it for the bare minimum. I have Facebook, and scarcely post to it, and have the people I follow squelched to a minimum. Unlike so many, I prefer a RSS reader, and yet that too I have limited. Touching on Mr. Chimero’s observations in his post, I find that my RSS reader reflects a following of people not informational feeds. It is their lives, or thoughts, as their lives and thoughts which I find interesting and so follow.

From the very beginning of this brave new world I found information over-load to be both very enticing and sickening. There was the allure of “knowing all” (if you will) by immersing oneself in the rushing stream of knowledge, but in being battered by the tumult I found I ended up feeling as if the experience left me knowing nothing at all. Rather than hearing a beautiful song, all that information just became like a rushing roar in my ears.

So I found my gravational pull takes me to orbit individuals who make beautiful music—and I mean that metaphorically. For those who have nothing to say, Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook are the perfect places for such people to say nothing very efficently. For those who blogged in the past because they had something of substance and beauty to say—they will keep blogging.

What I collect to read is not that which I find full of “information” but rather that which I find beautiful in some sense. I have never truly made it into the Twitter-Facebook-Tumblr-Pinterest world because none of those things strike me as beautiful. As much as I have used any of those things it has come from more a sense of obligation: If you want anyone to read your writing you must use those things, and so in some half-hearted way I have tried.

But what I ponder often is how to seperate the “static” from the “song” in my own writing so that I can contribute better to the collective beauty of things worth saying being said well.

When I first stumbled upon your website years ago (in the serendipity of looking for information on Textpattern) I was struck then by how it embodied the very thing Frank Chimero seeks to create. It is that odd crossing of paths, the accidental stumbling upon something beautiful, which still remains my delight in the internet. The following of Twitters, Tumblrs, and Facebooks feels so much more like trodding in the same path as the rest of the herd.

Rundy

The media tools du jour never seem to give me the handle I am grasping for. I want a filter for my e-mail that says “If I haven’t read this in 10 days it doesn’t matter to me; archive/delete it.” Such a feature might be out there, but it’s not in Gmail or Outlook.

I want a dial on my social media that spins from “Bored” to “Busy.” Bored? I see stuff from everyone, the trivial to the profound. “Busy”? Only close contacts are shown, with a bias toward high-value content.

Facebook has provided some of these tools, but they are binary: designated someone as a Close Friend (permanent promotion). Or Don’t Show Anything From ___. I want to open my RSS or my social media and dial up the amount of content I feel prepared to consume at the moment.

Arlan