Step Into My Archives, Reader

In many ways I feel that blogging suits me. I would even go so far as to say that my best work has been done as a blogger (not counting my as-yet-unfinished memoir Conversations with Speyer and my similarly incomplete doctoral study of Easter European folktales). There are, however, several aspects of blogging that irritate me. They are as follows:

1. Length. Herein lies the strength and weakness of the medium. The best blogs say a lot in a few words: this is as it should be. Nevertheless the pressure to keep things short is not always a good thing. The success of ‘twitter’ seems to have blinded many people to the fact that a multitude of words is not necessary a tiresome indulgence. Rein in your precious concentration and who knows: maybe there is something in Proust, Tolstoy and Szesz after all?

2. The day-to-dayness of it all. Things become dated far too fast in this part of the world. Blogs, like most internet mediums, seem overly concerned with the contemporary. Must we all be journalists? Most blogs, including this one, are ordered so that the latest post is the first post. Useful as this may be – from an ordering perspective – this gives the sense to the arriving reader that the best place to start is the last thing to have been written. This, as we all know, is not necessarily the case. One can start anywhere – and I rather wish that my readers did. There is much to be gained from trawling a blogger’s archives.

3. The obsession with statistics. Bloggers are obsessed with statistics. How many people have read this post? How many posts did I publish last August? Where does my blog rank? All of these statistics are misleading. I would rather know how my posts are being read than knowing how many times someone has clicked on a particular title. And yet I am as guilty as anyone when it comes to following numbers. My eyes stray to the column on the right of this post and I wonder why I am writing less this year than I did last year. Why does it matter? It doesn’t. That I am still writing at all is a miracle. Fortunately I am less concerned by my number of readers. This is the great privilege of being unread: one doesn’t have to worry what one’s readers think, how many they are and where they may be coming from. My distinct lack of fans gives me a certain freedom.


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