By David Seth Michaels
How odd it is. I started blogging in August, 2005. I thought I was unique to have my own blog.
I wasn’t. Not by a long shot. According to Technorati in October, 2006, long, long ago in Internet time, there were more than 57 million blogs with 100,000 more being created every single day. There are even more now. There are millions more. The Internet might look a lot like Jorge Luis Borges’ most famous short story, "The Infinite Library", expanding and filling the entire universe, with some volumes having only one punctuation mark different from another, an unceasing fountain of proliferation, a few excellent volumes and most, alas, incomprehensible, flawed detritus.
Maybe the Internet isn’t steadily mushrooming. Maybe it’s wavelike. Maybe it reaches a limit and then it begins slowly to contract. There may be some evidence of this in the dead blogs. While millions of blog are born, some, of course, experience the Fall Of Freddie The Leaf. They wither and die. From inattention. From lack of entries. From lack of readership. From lack of comments. From being forgotten by writer and reader alike. They’re all just abandoned blogs.
The venerable BBC says that 200 million people have already stopped writing their blogs:
... analyst Daryl Plummer said the reason for the levelling off in blogging was due to the fact that most people who would ever start a web blog had already done so.Maybe. But I doubt it. Just having something to say, no matter how clever or insightful, probably isn’t enough by itself to sustain a blog over time. No. What sustains most blogs, however large or small, are readers who find something that is not available in traditional media.
[The analyst] said those who loved blogging were committed to keeping it up, while others had become bored and moved on.
"A lot of people have been in and out of this thing," Mr Plummer said. "Everyone thinks they have something to say, until they're put on stage and asked to say it."
Two current events examples. First, when Eric Volz was convicted of a murder he did not commit in Nicaragua, blog essays kept his story alive even though the traditional media had abandoned it. And now, Irgrid Betancourt, a hostage of FARC in Colombia for six years. The traditional media reports appear to be repeating speculation. The blogs provide perspective. The blogs provide information that the traditional media don’t. They provide instant magazine pieces without waiting a week.
And this isn’t just news stories. Blogs thrive when they provide something special for their readers. When they don’t, it eventually becomes obvious, and they perish.
David Seth Michaels is a writer who lives in Columbia County, New York, and Quintana Roo, Mexico. His 2005 novel, The Dream Antilles, inspired his blog The Dream Antilles.