Year 2020 is a great year for blogging. Since January 1, I have posted 338 entries. It is, of course, nothing to be proud about, but it functions as a landmark of sorts for me—a reminder, in a way, that time moves quickly. December, after all, is right around the corner.
Updating this semi-secret space in the web has become a part of my daily routine since I began blogging in 2004. A blank entry is like an itch that demands to be scratched. To get things done—a technical paper to write, a book chapter to study—I post something, then move on to more important matters. I say "semi-secret" because even in my immediate circle of friends, nobody pays too much attention to blogs anymore. When I meet people from way back, they would ask if I'm still blogging. They are surprised that the site is still up and running.But kottke.org remains as vibrant as ever—a testament to the fact that perhaps, just perhaps, blogs are here to stay. But who knows, right?
Facebook, Instagram, and recently, Twitter, absorb most of the people's internet-reading time. The advent of these social media platforms led Jason Kottke to write in 2013 that "the blog is dead, long live the blog."
Instead of blogging, people are posting to Tumblr, tweeting, pinning things to their board, posting to Reddit, Snapchatting, updating Facebook statuses, Instagramming, and publishing on Medium. In 1997, wired teens created online diaries, and in 2004 the blog was king. Today, teens are about as likely to start a blog (over Instagramming or Snapchatting) as they are to buy a music CD. Blogs are for 40-somethings with kids.
To this day I do not know what to make of blogs in general, how they are defined exactly. Are they forms of journalistic reporting? Are they art forms? I certainly never think of Bottled Brain in those terms; those are, I believe, too presumptuous. Surely, photos of my handwriting cannot be considered art! Perhaps the closest workable definition of the blog is that it is an extension of my personal journals, almost like an online diary—and nothing more.
Nevertheless, the beauty of blogs as a platform of information- and personal-sharing comes from their relative detachment to the reader. In contrast to the noise of social media, this blog is a venue where I can think aloud without bothering anyone unnecessarily. When I post something here, the whole world does not need to be alerted, unless you have subscribed to a mailing list. Not everyone cares about fountain pens or books or literature or medicine. If you are a reasonable person, you must have already figured out what you like, or don’t.
Occasionally, though, friends remember and drop by. Even strangers stumble upon this neighborhood once in a while, writing kind words of encouragement. They do not need to stay long, but if they do, they are welcome.