Monday, December 03, 2012

other rants turns eight

I don’t know why I started blogging.

I have no idea what was going through my head and lead me to start my first blog. But I did.

It’s now eight years since I started blogging in December 2004. I miss the concept that I started with way back then. They were rants, often written straight into blogger with little or no editing.

They were long rants. They were about politics, human nature, health and my own personal philosophy.

Not many people read them then and even less do now.

But then again, I rarely post anything more that a photo these days.

My first post was triggered by having lunch with an ex and being both intrigued and repulsed by his smell.

A part of me feels sad that I don’t have the desire, energy or motivation to write posts like that any more.

As for politics, with Bush and Howard now gone, it was only Occupy Melbourne last year that briefly got me back into the saddle. It was exciting to witness a new political movement that wasn’t dominated by the usual lefty players. There was space for politically non-aligned individuals to stand up and speak. Some had solutions. Others didn’t. It was a truly organic movement.

So of course Doyle and his henchmen had to shut it down. It was brutal. Even standing on the sidelines, watching the destruction of the City Square camp changed me.

I attended my first political protest in primary school, not with my parents who’d never been to a demonstration in their lives but in response to an anti-nuclear group I heard about on local radio (ah radio, you’ve always been a part of my DNA) asking for children to be involved in “Flowers for the Fri”. My mum took me along to the meeting at the station and the following week to the demo, standing on the sidelines without comment. Supportive as always, yet neutral.

It was the beginning of many, many political actions to come. But the last one my mother drove me to.

I attended a number of Occupy marches on my own. I met wonderful people of all ages doing the same thing, excited and unified by a sense of hope. It made me blog again. For a while.  But like the movement itself, my blogging mojo fizzled out once more.

In my second year of blogging I wrote a piece I still remember fondly. Written on the body was spurred by seeing a tattooed arm on a tram ride. I was touched that the post moved others in some way. It reminds me that pieces like that, written in one hit as if purging a notion from my psyche, are worth writing and putting out there.

Like most bloggers, there’s been a point where I’ve said, “this is it, I’m not blogging anymore”. It’s a natural part of the blogging cycle. Now Other Rants remains semi-dormant, though I still blog in different forms elsewhere on the net. Those other platforms also wax and wane.

Blog authors and readers have changed. Initially they were greater in number, more engaged, both on the web and through actual in-the-flesh gatherings. Blogs have become highly niched. The Australian political blogging scene has largely risen and fallen with the birth and demise of collaborative venture Larvatus Prodeo. Actually it was LP that put me off blogging. There were some great collaborators and exquisite writing on the site but it was equally spoiled by vicious egos with too much time on their hands.

I’ve participated in the phenomenal rise of food blogging niche. I caught the rise of the first wave of Australian flogging (food blogging) when we were relatively few in number and even more sociable and harder drinking than the political bloggers. Then, almost overnight, the landscape changed to a world of look alike blogs, mostly highly opinionated accounts of their last restaurant meal or recipe sites with identical Donna Hay-style photos. There’ve now been three Eat.Drink.Blog events in different parts of the Australia. Perhaps the starkest contrast between the first one in Melbourne and the latter two in Sydney and Adelaide demonstrate a shift in the demographic. It was a blast to be part of the first EDB and talk about why I keep a food blog as cook’s journal. It was a free; invite only/balloted conference funded by sponsorship from small local producers. It was definitely a day and night to remember that bonded all the participants. The latter EDBs have been sponsored by the likes of Meat and Livestock Australia and other corporates. A far cry from the little grass roots guys we were happy to support.

There’s also been a rise in recent years of a new profession, that of the “full time blogger”. Imagine putting that on your immigration form (especially if say, you’re Syrian or Egyptian)? People who eek out a living from sales, sponsorship and freebies on their blog. This is a big thing in the food and mummy blogging niches. The world of sponsored posts and dubious transparency has divided the blog world between those who rail against and others who enviously aspire to it.

So much has changed in the scene since I first wrote about how my ex-boyfriend smelt. The readers too have changed. Attention spans shortened. The exodus to twitter. The rise 140 character ‘micro blog’ (what a ridiculous term). A world where traversing a paragraph can be a bridge too far.

So congratulations to you for making it so far through over four and a half thousand characters and turning up at the page after eight years.

I think blogs are establishing a new niche, a twitter backlash, where a discerning reader craves a world with full sentences and space to develop concepts and share ideas. It’s a smaller and potentially subversive audience in a world of increasingly foreshortened concentration spans.

One thing I’ve learned in eight years of blogging is once you’ve blogged for a few years it gets into your blood. You swear you’ll not be back and the next minute the urge to blog drives you crazy.

But whether I’ll be part of this new wave of blogging or not, is yet to be seen.

Thanks for reading.

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