Time to reflect

I normally come up with the title for a post after I have written it. If I'm feeling creative it will be some sort of play on words, or if I'm not then an all-encompassing word or two will do. As for this particular post, and with a few things to discuss, I've written the title first, inspired by having just read a feature about musicians who have used the title of an album as the starting point for their creative exercise. Here goes...

Firstly, blogs - yes, this very medium that I am writing in and you are reading from. - what content they derive, the reason that the content exists and what the writer should (or should not) expect from any reader that visits the blog. This was brought into sharp focus by a series of posts to be found here, at Jono Lethbridge's excellent 'Wansted Birder'.  His blogging output has recently included detailed and entertaining reports on his recent overseas trips which have received a bit of flak from certain quarters. None of us bloggers like to get a negative response to what we have posted (I have had a few over the years) and Jono responded to this negativity with a post in which he puts forward his reasons for writing what he did and why he feels justified in continuing to do so. It made a lot of sense and struck several chords with me. 

Blogging is, it must be admitted, a bit old school. A dying platform? I don't think so, or at least I hope not. So the first question that I asked myself is why do I continue to do it? I do it because I enjoy writing, always have done, from essays at school to private notebook entries. It is also true that the chance to share with others what I have seen, or my views on the natural world, is one that I am delighted to partake in. No doubt this is partly ego driven, maybe could be vainly considered as altruistic but is also no more than the action of a social person, one who believes in the benefits of contact with like-minded souls.

Second question then is how should we respond to negative comments? The fact that many bloggers allow comments to be posted (they can be switched off) would suggest that we invite them. And as such we must accept that the delight we feel with a positive response will, at some point down the line, be countered by a negative one. When I have received these they have sometimes been from regular correspondents (which are easier to accept as they are from people who are usually positive) but at other times from unknown (even anonymous) posters. These are harder to fathom, particularly if they verge on the aggressive. However, what must be accepted is that the written word cannot covey the tone of voice, whether a harsh sentence is in fact an attempt at humour or irony, or if the person who took the time to respond spends a lot of time trawling cyberspace to troll other people, rendering that negativity as not necessarily specific to what you think or who you are. And we must also consider that a negative comment might well have a point and is, after all, just another point of view.

Despite all of this mild uneasiness I have no intention of quitting blogging. I have thought about it before, I have taken time out from doing so and my output is not what it used to be. What does concern me is that the pool of bloggers is reducing, and their output shrinking. I do know of younger naturalists who embrace this medium, so it is not just populated by us older exponents. My final question to myself is "Where would you go if blogging was no longer an option?" I don't know. This is a comfortable platform to embrace, I have been doing so since 2010, have posted well over a thousand times and received close to 1,500,000 visits (not all bots!) It has introduced me to a cast of characters who have become virtual friends (and some even real human ones!) This has also acted as a diary of sorts, a narrative to the dry lists and counts that are in my notebooks. Blogging has definitely reduced my written word entries elsewhere. I have started to copy certain blog entries and keep them together just in case the platform collapsed or my account suddenly disappeared. This all points to the content of this blog being of importance to me. I have been considering starting up 'hard copy' notebook narrative again, which might be a worthwhile exercise anyway. 

I still marvel at the number of natural history blogs that are on offer out there. The sheer volume of content ripe for exploring. The expertise of those that write them. The education and entertainment dished up, all for free and all produced by kind individuals who think it worth their time to share in their experiences. I thank them for it.


Tim Allwood said…
The total omission of any mention of the immediate and ultra-urgent issue of climate change and the disproportionate emissions of the frequently flying wealthy in the blog in question - and the comments on it - is utterly perplexing. There’s nothing else to say on it.

Steve, thanks for this. Writing is a thankless task sometimes, but that's not why we do it is it?

Tim, with respect, and without wishing to have an argument on someone else's webpage, not everything has to be about climate change all the time. I was responding to a completely different challenge.
Tim Allwood said…
Frequent flying and the associated stratospheric emissions (pun intended) are very much about climate change.
Stewart said…
What a good idea Steve to save some blog posts. I often wonder what would happen should the platform go T.U. ...
Alastair said…
I used to download every blog post to Word format, but I haven't done that for a long while, I have thought about it again recently as I wouldn't want to lose my blog, my online natural history diary, and a very useful reference when I'm trying to sort out my data for iRecord or county recorders. There is now a backup tool in Blogger I think, I should explore it. I allow Comments on my blog, but I have deleted them at times, when other folk have had a barney in the Comments, or I have, or I've got spammed. But on the whole I like Comments - especially when folk help with identifications and put me right!

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