When blogs began, one of their much trumpeted benefits over a static website was being constantly updated with fresh content.
The print analogy was that a blog is like an ongoing subscription to newspaper or magazine articles, with something new delivered every day or two, rather than a book published 5 years ago that then sits on a shelf unchanged.
With the rise of social media (much of it originally tagged “micro blogging”), many now see blogs as unfashionable, or even completely redundant.
But for me, blogs are more precious than ever, for five significant reasons.
Let’s take a look at each.
First, at the core of my appreciation is something that flies in the face of the blog’s original raison d’etre.
This comes about because the main passions I have don’t involve technology at the bleeding forefront of an industry.
With cameras, and more recently bicycles, my main interests lie in vintage kit that is at least five years old, and sometimes up to five decades old.
The oldest camera I’ve owned I believe is a 1956 Kiev 2a. The oldest bike currently is a 21 year old Specialized Rockhopper, though I have been reading about far older machines from the 80s back to the 50s.
So when I discover a blog about cameras or bikes of a certain vintage, it doesn’t matter if the post was written 10 minutes ago or 10 years ago, if the content is interesting, informative and enjoyable to read.
Second, blogs aren’t just about the kit – the passions and feelings behind using them are timeless.
The blogs I appreciate most do far more than regurgitate a manual or catalogue about the products. They offer an engaging, personal, even witty overview straight from the author’s mouth (and/or heart).
The best ones not only inform you about whatever the topic is, but encourage further thinking and discussion too.
Both contain plenty about what it means to have the passions they do (photography and cycling respectively) but also thoughts on life in general and what it means to be a human being.
These feelings and experiences are timeless, not something invented only ten minutes ago.
Third, comments on a blog offer a whole other range and depth of enjoyment, and often give as much insight and enlightenment as the original posts themselves.
So whereas I could find an archived magazine issue about a 1995 Stumpjumper, I wouldn’t then have the follow up comments with real users over a period of years, even decades after.
An original piece from the 70s about the new (then!) Pentax ME Super might give you the technical spec and the original “expert” author’s view, but an article on a blog from just a year or two ago will likely having a selection of users’ comments, feedback and tips about the cameras that we can gain much more from.
The comments sections also have a habit of going off on beautiful, loosely related tangents. The richness and unpredictability of these is again something that expands on and enriches the original post, however excellent that may have been itself.
This I feel is due to the greater freedom and space we have with blog comments.
Without limitations of characters or lines, people feel more free to expound and share, and it’s not been uncommon to see a single comment longer than the original post itself. I know I’ve written comments in reply to others on 35hunter that have been more wordy and in depth than the initial post too!
Fourth, the pace of blogs is much slower, which makes them easier to enjoy.
What I mean is, even the more prolific bloggers I follow don’t post every single day. And I don’t tend to follow anything like as many blogs as I used to follow people on Twitter or Instagram a while back.
Currently I have 25 blogs in my Reader, but probably a third of them haven’t published in months.
So these more gentle publishing schedules, combined with following fewer in the first place, means new posts aren’t stacking up by the minute as you’re trying to catch up with the unread ones in your reader/feeder/email inbox. I’d estimate if I check once a day, there might be three or four new posts at most, sometimes perhaps only one.
This encourages more immersion in the words, and more appreciation of what the author is sharing, which enhances the whole experience.
My perspective as a reader becomes about gently hunkering down and reading, not checking and swiping and skimming the surface, the frantic and addictive pattern of behaviour most social media actively encourages.
Fifth, and perhaps most important of all, blogs allow you to be part of – and build – a community.
This naturally follows on from number three above.
By blogging consistently – and reading and commenting on other people’s blogs we enjoy – before long we can feel part of a community of people with at least a few interests in common.
The vast reach of the internet means we can find people who like the same cameras or bikes or knitting techniques or recipes that we do, without needing to leave the comfort of our own laptop or tablet.
Which leads to feeling encouraged, inspired and just enjoying other people’s virtual company.
Again I find this so much easier with the blog format, where you can write in as much depth as you wish. With most social media, their short and fleeting formats have always felt so superficial for me, and seem to focus on gathering likes and hits more than actual meaningful engagement and conversation and community.
As you can see, there are at least five compelling reasons for us to continue to enjoy reading, writing, and commenting on blogs.
I can’t see any of them going away any time soon. Long live blogs and blogging!
What do you like most about blogs – as a reader, commenter, and writer of your own blog?
Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
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