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May 17, 2016


I love the blog as a place for both long and short formats, for pictures, as a sort of daybook or sketchbook or idea incubator or journal--a road map of my creative self, of all my selves. I would continue to keep the blog even if I knew I would be the only one reading it, because I use it to store ideas, to be my journal that I share with the world--and because in grad school, I was taught the importance of this kind of writing (less formal, more free-form, more collection of ephemera than polished/finished work) as a window to the artist's world, and as art itself (I think of the journals of Dorothy Wordsworth). I like the blogs of others for these very reasons too--they make me feel less alone in the world, and that, for me, is a compelling reason to keep blogging.

Instagram is of course owned by Facebook, and Derakhshan's critique of FB for destroying the hyperlink applies even better to Instagram, where you can't even include a clickable link in a post. That sticks in my craw more than anything else. I also resent the fact that, although I can sign into Instagram on my laptop and iPad, I can only post new content from a mobile phone. Even Twitter isn't that regressive in abandoning the open web in favor of proprietary apps. Nevertheless, I'm a realist who believes in going where the audience is. But the question is always where to draw the line. For me, it's with Facebook pages—horrible things that send you constant prompts to boost posts, i.e. give FB money so they might show your content to a few more of the people who have elected to receive it. (I know because I'm one of the admins for pour Audubon chapter's page.) Authors and businesses who allow a Facebook page to be their only web presence are deeply foolish, I think.

Ai yi yi. I don't know how to answer this. I ground to a halt with my blogging, but it wasn't because of FB. I actually like FB for a whole lot of things.

But I also mourn the loss of a once-rich linger-form blogging community. I cherish the friendships I made during that era that endure to this day.

I'd like to think I'll start back up blogging one day, but I never got a whole lot of feedback, and it was rather like throwing stones into a really deep well.

I must admit I rather like how quiet Via Negativa has become now that commenting mostly takes place elsewhere. Maybe I am becoming a bit like Teju Cole in my growing indifference to comments, which once seemed so essential a part of the blogging experience, along with having a blogroll or posting accounts of things as close to the events they describe as possible. I guess I am not unhappy with the more focused and specialized turn that blogging has taken. And not to sound too glass-half-full about this, but one could certainly make a case for Twitter and Facebook bringing a hell of a lot more people online. I suspect that the on-going boom at WordPress.com is in part explained by that — all the people getting a taste of online self-publishing and deciding they want a place that's more their own (and less fugly).

Absolutely agree with all that you say on this post, Beth, and with the article by Derakhshan. The only reason I started duplicating my blog posts to FBook is because I saw that more people were reading them and responding there (even with just 'likes')than on my blog. But while I certainly appreciate the FB connections and have made some new friends there, I very much prefeer the blogging platform. Yet I also agree with Dave: reality is reality. Are we going to stem the tide of FB, Instagram, Twitter etc all by ourselves? I've never used Twitter or Instagram and don't intend to - it's hard enough keeping up with the blog and FB. But I have to concede that those giant monsters are not going to go away and although I intend to keep Blaugustine going while I still have my wits about me, I probably will keep up with FBook too. It's the audience syndrome, isn't it? If we're saying something, we'd rather be heard than ignored.

Great points and great post. I too have seen a shift from on-blog comments to the more casual Facebook likes and quick-takes based on the title and image. It's frustrating as a writer who puts time into whatever your posting, but it can help to view Facebook less as a medium and more as an advertising network. Even if only a slim fraction of the people who interact with your posts on Facebook actually make it over to your own blog or site, I think it's worth it -- especially if you can get them to spend some time there.

My blog has become more important to me as a refuge from worrying about page views and comment moderation — in fact, I have had comments turned off for the last several months. That doesn't mean I'm posting there more often than once a month, often less than that: a huge shift from a decade ago when I felt obliged to post once a day lest I lose traffic. But there will always be room for my blog in my heart, and in my life: a place where I can represent myself as I wish, and closing off comments has allowed me to treat each piece in a more contemplative fashion.

I do miss the community I found in comment threads at the old version of my blog. But as the arc of my blog bent more and more toward lots of people reading, that community was pretty well eroded by four or five years ago, maintained only by constant vigilance against vandals. (It was actually those vandals that caused me to decide to turn off comments, and I owe them a debt of gratitude for the time and cognitive overhead they freed up thereby.

For me, FB in particular has been a difference of degree but not of kind. There were always people who responded vehemently to the first sentence in a post; Facebook just allows them to react only to the first 15 words in that sentence. There were always people who cut and pasted a paragraph of my work to their own sites and hosted conversations there; Facebook just allows that with a click of a mouse.

I'm not meaning to downplay the destructiveness of the medium: I have added as a life goal for the next five years making changes in my life that allow me to withdraw from social media altogether. The shallowness of human interaction there depresses me. And it's fortunate that at the same time, my real-world relationships are deepening tremendously.

I always come over here from Facebook to read your posts. I miss the old days, but in my case, it was more than just the ubiquity of social media that stemmed any new trickle of blogging activity on my part. For family reasons, I had to stay off certain topics, and then, it just became easier to stay off the public domain. Instagram became a private/public way of capturing outlines of what I wanted to talk about, but which I could never put in words. My "online" life, those interactions do take lace mostly on Facebook now, but I am not happy about it. In some ways, being on Facebook is like being marooned in the Hotel California of the Eagles, you know, the song that goes something along the lines of it being "such a lovely place," "heaven or hell," where you can check in, but can't leave....

By the way, I just noticed that my last post on my own abandoned blog is from August 2014....

Although I post now my photos (and sometimes short texts) on Instagram and enjoy the competent audience I've found there, I consider that platform, just like Dave, the most user-unfriendly of all; Facebook is user-friendlier but an aggressive advertiser and that tires me. Nevertheless, I, too, visit both for the audience and feedback I've found there and use them to show my work. That doesn't mean that one or two new friendships weren't born on these platforms too, but I have always been a person who discusses less in comments and more through the next piece of work and, if more personal, of course in emails or, really, in person. I missed the golden age of blogging and although I keep a blog since 2009, it has always been kept in the same slow creative pace as a literary blog. Twitter was the place where I was able to connect more with people or where more discussions of all sorts, political,creative or personal took place for me during the last years. I found that space to be the most free of all, a true agora with all its dangers (trolls and demagogues) and benefits (freedom, plurality and diversity), plus, the 140 character limit inspired me as a poetic form and led, as you very well know, Beth, to many many tweets and verses, and even to a little book. So I guess, one could sum up that, almost everyone commenting here, has one favourite online address, like a main residency, and visits the others for the specific audience dwelling there.

That's why I like Twitter. It's good on links. I have hardly any followers and don't follow that many myself. That seems to be the key to optimum use of this medium.
My blog is my internet "home" though, and it's a serous endeavor for me.

Although I saw the post on FB, I actually followed here after Chris Clarke suggested that, in the spirit of the blog post, we come and respond here. ;-)

Good questions. Terseness is not due to anything but shimming this into a workin' world break.

Is it worth keeping a blog like this going?
Oh heck yes. Longer, not-streaming writing gives me a place to come and sit and think, and to let the feelings well up and percolate out.

What about your own? If you've stopped blogging, why was that, and are you happy with social media as a substitute?
My blog has become more a place to post the end outcome of some creative activity, and social media is where I "keep in touch" - FB mostly for friends of all sorts (art, science, business, some family), Twitter and LinkedIn almost exclusively for work. I use Instagram more or less as a photo editing spot and a distribution mechanism for on-the-fly iPhone pics.

What has been odd and interesting to me - the poems I post on my blog, and share via FB, have gotten response and engagement from folks I had no idea might engage with that facet of who I am, what I do. That's been surprising and encouraging; it gives me a little energy boost.

Do you think there will be a swing back to longer-form content in other places on the web, and a reaction to social media - as some have predicted - or do you think the die is cast?
It depends on what the reader / interactor / user wants. For some folks, long form writing is totally not of interest - they'd not be blogging, either, they'd only be texting if not for FB and Twitter. What I'm curious about is what will come next - what approach, or platform, will make connection and content richer (or leaner, as the case may be)? Assuming we're not consumed by a meteor strike or a pandemic, that is. ;-)

Commenting here instead of on Facebook on principle :-)

Basically, I agree with all that you said.

I want to restrict my participation on Facebook to keeping in touch with friends and liking their daily life activities and getting to any interesting articles they share, but when it comes to re-sharing or writing large commentaries, I want to move that away to my blog again.

I think the hardest part will be to get used to the reduced amount of feedback. :-)

Oh, Beth. I so long for the days when we were blogging regularly. But Numenius and I have actually gone back to daily posting in our logbook, you know, with a pen. Different entirely, but it's nice to be back in that discipline.

In order to blog now it feels necessary to do something more "important" than what I might say on Facebook, which brings its own challenges. Feedback is less important, I think, than making sure I have something to say. We have been talking a lot about material for blog posts. I don't know if anyone would ever see them, but that's not the point?

Where I work, Facebook and Google vie for pride of place in sending us referrals. Facebook sends the people who share an interest, often local, or an issue, like Black Lives Matter. Google sends the most people when our posts are sbout something of nstional interest, like Bernie Sanders or "What time and channel is the Masters golf tournament?" But our posts generally link back to our site, and what else would we do?

Now, my blog was meant only to give me a presense online and has not been updated much. But I liked the freedom I had to build whatever I wanted. But I use Facebook a lot for the stimulation my friends provide, posting links and ideas. I follow things on twitter that also take me places. I have to say I scan past a lot of trash, though.

I can't say what I wish you would do. This blog is a gem; you should be proud of it. I have very much enjoyed following it. Do you still have time? Do you still feel satisfied knowing a few like-minded people read your work? Is there anything here that helps you professionally? I think we all will continue to admire you regardless of what you choose! -- Peter

It's perhaps worth noting that my Facebook post linking here, in which I specifically asked people to comment here instead of on the my FB post, has generated a bit of resistance. Even a polite request that's on topic seems to generate resistance to the Path of Least Resistance.

That's what I get for trying to write, edit, and post a comment while navigating utility company voice mail. The above should have said "seems to generate opposition to any deviation from the path of least resistance.

See … I'm answering without having read the full blog and previous comments … but at least your part on Facebook …
Life turns faster and faster … nobody or better said less and less people take the time to read through something that is more than 2 paragraphs long … Sometimes I miss my little blog … and then I realize that I wouldn't have the time right now to put in the effort to keep it up like I did over 10 years ago … Easy said: If you want something, you find the time for it …. I have changed. Probably also because of Facebook, but also because times have changed: when I started my blog smartphones did not exist …. one was sitting in front of a computer to write AND read … not on some bus, while walking, on a restaurant table. I still even have newspapers delivered home! Need to give them some time and attention too … Sorry … have to go!

I did read the post, and the comments. "Life turns faster and faster."
Not for me. Not anymore.

I miss blogs. I miss life pre-facebook. I miss the quiet. I have long-missed the long form. The exchange of ideas in a process of exploring ideas, rather than shouting lists of "10 things you're doing wrong" at each other. It seems like a competition to get likes for the most interesting aphorisms.

I have made a few half-hearted attempts to return to blogging and haven't found a place for it in my too busy life. But this realization has kind of lead me to a complete revamping of what I do with my time. After exams are over - back to blogging, regardless of whether anyone reads it. Back to reading blogs I like.

I don't want to read "content". I want to read essays and old-fashioned literature.

I've been surprised by the number of comments and the depth of feeling expressed as a result of this post. Actually, I don't mind if people comment on my blog posts on FB, and I can see some advantages - in order to follow the discussion on the blog you have to keep going back there, while FB (for better or worse) tend to be the central station and it's easier to read and participate in threaded comments like these. Some other people (not myself) prefer to write without any comments at all. On this blog, I've always tried to respond to each comment individually, which is a lot of work, but still doesn't necessarily mean people end up reading what others have written - I think this is a flaw in the form. But the merits and placement of comments are aside from the question of doing the actual blog writing, and whether it's worthwhile, satisfying, and all the other tormented questions writers ask themselves! I'll probably write some more about that in a subsequent post. Thanks so much to everyone who's had something to say -- it's beginning to feel like Old Home Day here at The Cassandra Pages, and that's a pretty nice feeling. It's great to see and hear from so many people whose writing and friendship I've appreciated over many years.

You will not be surprised to hear that I think it is absolutely worth keeping a blog like this going! :-) Your blog is an oasis for me.

I think the writing and painting and drawing -- the creating, and sharing of that creating -- are worth doing even if readership seems lower than it used to be and even if comment counts are lower than they used to be.

I don't do as much longform writing as I used to, but I think that's more a function of changed life circumstance (having a little kid, having two jobs) than of the internet's shifts away from longform work. I'm hoping to do more longform writing as life permits, and I hope there will still be people out there who want to be reading Velveteen Rabbi when that day comes.

I think the long form is necessary. Sometimes my own blog entries are lengthy, but I tend to keep posts under 400 words...I'm a poet, not a prose writer; my prose writing seldom gets long.

However, I love long work, though I must admit I prefer reading longer essays on the page rather than on the screen.

It is interesting to me, as rather a late-comer to blogging (2013 I think), how infrequently my readers use the links I offer and how infrequently they comment. When I read blogs, I almost always follow the links if offered--though I admit that I don't comment too often.

You should definitely keep going! :)


The degree of agreement in these comments so far is interesting and encouraging. It also supports my feeling that blogging is far from dying out, and in fact facebook, for all its odious characteristics, might have had one good effect: the blogs that are vanishing are disproportionately those with nothing to say. If, in the long term, the 'what-I-ate-for-lunch' and stolen (sorry, 'shared') content blogs drift off to facebook and leave the true blog community with a much higher proportion of good quality, original-content blogs, I won't lament that evolution.

Yours is one of the few blogs I read, Beth. Thank you for keeping on with it. (I don't do Facebook.)

I've been calling FB "empty calories", but I seem to gorge myself anyway. I think I like the enhanced level of response that my blog never generated.

I keep telling myself that I'll return to blogging, but I've only posted sporadically for the last couple of years; I was surprised to note when I made a sort of off-hand post the other day that it was the first for 2016.

Even before the recent fall-off, I've always had an approach/avoidance relationship with writing. At this point, I think I'm fine with the blog just being a repository for writing that I wouldn't otherwise do, and get my Like ya-yahs from FB. Do need to seriously adjust the proportions, though.

I check your blog everyday along with one or two others but many of the blogs I used to enjoy are gone. I use Facebook just for family and far away friends and it is good for that, the younger generation posts kid photos and short clips on what they are doing. I keep the number of "friends" down to people I really know and a couple of writers I like to follow. It's enjoyable and I don't take it seriously.
My husband has taken to writing in groups that are about technology he is interested in and in that case I think FB is replacing some of the on line boards where he used to write. He wouldn't want to write a blog but he keeps up with answering questions for people in the FB groups.
Maybe there will be a new format that encourages blogging someday. Something that would pay the good bloggers the way FB pays itself.

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.