andrew sullivan is quitting the dish, and ana marie cox (the delightful original wonkette) is basically declaring the blog over as a medium, or whatever 'the blog' may be. i guess i started blogging - right here - around when they did or shortly after (2004). now first of all, burnout is legit. when i started blogging, i was getting tired of writing a weekly op-ed column, and really after i started blogging i realized i wanted to quit that gig, even if i also wanted back on the op-ed page from time to time. i've often taken a month or six weeks off without notice, although at other times i'm posting like mad.
but i've got to say: i fucking love the form, alright? for many reasons. i am a much better writer now, i believe, because i've written however many hundreds of thousands of words for 'publication'; some blog entries i've refined dozens of times. i publish, revise, and then publish again, the perfect cure for the problem of suddenly seeing a piece in print and so seeing it from a different or outside angle, and wanting and being unable to fix it. genres like the 700-word op-ed or the academic book or a twitter feed have some rigid parameters; a blog entry can take any length, any form; it is improvisational or jazz publishing. i poach it all the time for academic or opinion-journalist-type writings. i just love it as a place and way to write.
and also...it is an autonomous press that i control completely. there is something to be said for good professional editing (john timpane at the philly inquirer and i worked on a couple of hundred pieces together, i think), and something to be said against bad professional editing (naming no names). but there is a lot to be said for the unexpurgated individual human voice that knows it will not be edited except by the person who emits it. and that is what i think a blog ought to be, even if there are several voices on a blog, you old crusader. i published an underground newspaper starting in 7th grade, which was not unique in my era. my heroes william lloyd garrison (the liberator), josiah warren (the peaceful revolutionist), and emma goldman (mother earth) figured out how to make a free space for their voices, to tiny or big audiences. they had to figure out how to print it themselves. i see the blog as a continuation of that. i've said many, many things here that i could not say at the daily beast or huffpost.
andrew sullivan and ana marie cox were great bloggers at times. but they literally sold out the blog, if i may say so. cox's thing is that there are better ways to make money as a writer. on the other hand i have never myself sold advertising or done anything but pay to blog. i respect professional writers, coming from long lines of them, and i realize i have a nice position as an academic from which to do this (which is not to say i ain't broke). but cox and sullivan wanted to blog for someone; embed their blogs in the atlantic or the guardian or whatever. others were always calculating how to get the largest audiences and thus a good flow of advertising.
they sold their blogs, ok? it's not the worst thing, but maybe that's when they stopped blogging and just became staff writers or wheeler-dealers, with a comments section and a time posted, etc: the accessories but not the essence. this was a pretty straightforward choice for them, because they are people of relatively mainstream views who aspired to the biggest possible audiences. but there are plenty of bloggers for whom that wouldn't be an option, one way or another.
for years i just argued that there were no blogs on the nyt's opinion page, no matter how they were presenting stanley fish or whomever; they just called a column a blog, basically just edited it the same way, and so on. i'm not going to put any weight on the 'real' meaning of the term, but let's say the blog got co-opted and then died. that is ok, because post-collapse it might again become a space of eccentric voices with small audiences; it never stopped being that too: a verson of the diy zine. and it will remain one of the possibilities. at any rate, i've got no plans to stop.