Link Posts, Longform Blogging, and Social Bookmarks

The other day, the first book blog in Britain became ten years old. Ten years is a long time to commit to a project, especially on the Internet. The ten year mark is a good point at which to step back and ask: how was it? After about a decade of blogging, Mark Thwaite did just that. He mentions why he got started in the first place.

My hope at the time was that countless blogs would emerge that would prove an untested thesis to which I’d long cleaved: that the attempt by the mainstream media to contain the intelligence of the average reader by trivialising their seriousness could be resisted, and that blogging would prove that readers had far more sophisticated tastes than the broadsheets presume. Here are the Best CRMs for Small Business

What became of literary blogging?

He also mentions the difference between linkblogging and what’s sometimes called longform blogging or longform journalism.

Blogging, I hoped, would prove to be the start of a renaissance in long form critical writing … but even committed bloggers like myself found it hard to knock out long, incisive reviews on a daily – or even weekly – basis. Understandably, we often filled our blogs with linkbait. If a nice review or post went up on Monday, perhaps Tuesday and Wednesday would simply be a comment directing our readers to something good elsewhere in the blogosphere. Actually, this felt good. This was OK. This was community-building. Bloggers linked to other blogs and praised other bloggers; the MSM (mainstream media) could be ignored.

Then along came Twitter. And, fairly quickly, that blog article linking to another blogger’s excellent article on X, Y or Proust, never came to be written. A link was just tweeted out. And the tweet joined countless others in a maelstrom of posts, very, very many of which pointed readers back to articles in the MSM. Again, for a while, I was optimistic. If the linkbait went from blogs, that surely only left the good stuff. But the linkbait proved to be part of the lifeblood, and blogs started to wither on the vine – mine too for a while.

What became of literary blogging?

Mark Thwaite isn’t alone in thinking that link posts may not be good for a blog. In a recent post by Iain Broome, he describes the evolution of his blog over the past 8 years, with an on-again-off-again history of link posts.

Over time, I got rid of the link posts. Then I brought them back again. As of today, I say farewell to those little blighters once more. I love the idea, but I don’t have the time to make it work. I’ve been kidding myself. Plus I’m not sure that people want them. Not on a blog about writing.

Iain Broome

I have also been blogging for more than ten years, since the summer of 2003 on this particular website, and before that on Blogger, and before that on LiveJounal, and for nearly all of that time there has been a links page. Is anybody looking at it? I took a peek at the data and the answer is no. In 9 years (since I’ve been counting), that page has been viewed by less-than-half-of-one-percent of the (small) audience of this site. By contrast, my most popular post has been viewed by almost 12% during that time.

People don’t like social bookmarking as much as they used to, it seems. It’s food for thought for the next ten years of blogging, anyway.

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