Friday, December 28, 2012

Anil Dash Take Heart: Jon Swift's Smaller Blog Roundup Continues

Back on December 13, someone I follow retweeted this from Anil Dash:

"I am very appreciative of the very kind responses to my piece about The Web We Lost. But if you liked it, BLOG ABOUT IT. Don't just tweet."

I was intrigued. Someone entreating blogging over tweeting. 

I clicked back to find his article, on his blog, lamenting what we've lost in the blogosphere as the web has evolved. 

Here's one of Anil's points, about linking:

"Ten years ago, you could allow people to post links on your site, or to show a list of links which were driving inbound traffic to your site. Because Google hadn't yet broadly introduced AdWords and AdSense, links weren't about generating revenue, they were just a tool for expression or editorializing. The web was an interesting and different place before links got monetized, but by 2007 it was clear that Google had changed the web forever, and for the worse, by corrupting links."

And who is Anil Dash? His site says "I'm an avid and unabashed student of pop culture, extremely versed in the minutia of funk music and hip hop history, and obsessive about the details of how the modern technology industry came to be." He's turned his passions into a tech/strategist career, and a blogger since 1999. More about him here.

The comments on his "The Web We Lost" are equally interesting reading:

Ryan Sholin ·  Top Commenter
Of all these things, I miss Technorati the most, but I also miss the culture of blogging that powered it. 

Now we (well, Anil and Jason and Gruber and obviously many prominent others excluded) barely use our blogs, content to share half-passively, doing things like posting a comment and leaving the box checked to post it to Facebook as a method of exposing our thoughts on a link to a wider audience. 

Is that enough? Have I sufficiently participated in the conversation? Should I tweet this, too? Maybe I will.

As a blogger since 2006 I am witness to what Anil is talking about. The blog culture in general has changed. It's not as vibrant as it was "in the beginning," with voices subsumed into the impersonal, megalopolis world of the HuffPos and the enticements everywhere to be pithy, and only pithy.

But not entirely.

Vagabond Scholar Continues Jon Swift Tradition

Back starting in 2005 there was a blog/blogger named Jon Swift: "I am a reasonable conservative who likes to write about politics and culture. Since the media is biased I get all my news from Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Jay Leno monologues."

He had quite a following of people who "got" that he was a faux conservative and it was satire (Swift, hint, hint)  or didn't and followed him straight.

Everything about "Jon Swift" is the antithesis of Anil's observation. Everything about Swift is highly unique, highly individual.

Swift was in reality the freelance writer Al Weisel, but he took the literary tradition of a nom de plume very seriously, going so far to fight Facebook for his right to have an account with that name.

He participated in a the collective of bloggers that Tom Watson brought together under the umbrella Newcritics.

Swift's blog had a large following and "famous" friends. He started an end-of-year roundup where he asked smaller bloggers of his acquaintance and circles to chose a post of theirs from the year and he would link to it in a roundup. Very nice thing for a blogger to do. Great way to learn about new ideas.

All of Swift's creative engery was stopped by an aortic aneurysm that erupted as he was driving down to his father's funeral in Virginia in 2010. A tragedy on every level for this 46 year old man. His death saddened a good chunk of the blogoshpere, because everything about his work was smart, funny, and perceptive, but above all, unique and individual, on its own platform.

To honor Jon Swift, blogger Vagabond Scholar picked up the tradition of the blog roundup, which I'm granfathered into. (My contribution is about Paul Fussell.) It's another year of great links, many of them from the political side of the blogosphere, which is interesting to me because that's not my usual beat to read.

And so, Anil Dash, here's a bit of the web we knew in 2006, alive and well.

The Jon Swift Memorial Roundup


Batocchio said...

Wow! That provides quite a bit of context and perspective. I think Tumblr blogs (for instance) are great for photographers and infrequent writers, but most don't allow comments, only sharing and liking, and I dislike that trend. Social media is a tool like any other, and à chacun son goût and all that, but I still like the longer pieces and personal essays (about, say, Paul Fussell) and the lively comment threads in the more vibrant blog communities. Luckily, the extended interwebs still provide variety.

Ellen O'Neill said...

I am always struck when 2 unrelated things come over the transom that are actually connected. Thanks for stopping by.