Slow Blogging

No one ever accused me of being visionary.

I once worked for an online services company that asked me to give an opinion on two new concepts – Voice Over IP (VOIP) and online auctions – concepts that later morphed into things like eBay and Skype. I turned them down. The quality – in 1994 – over VOIP was worse than two tin cans and a string. And the practical reality of online auctions at 56K dial-up modem speeds seemed doomed to failure.

In the very early 1990s, I wrote parts of a collaborative, online science fiction story (parts of which morphed into “Dealing with the Demon,” now available in Innocents and Demons) and I named the futuristic, consumer-desire driven AI network “The Internet.” Someone kindly informed me that there was already a real “Internet,” and perhaps I should invent a new term, rather than risk annoying its creators with my diabolical incarnation of it as a character whose prime directive was to keep its consumers happily entertained, distracted, and addicted so that they would stay logged on 24/7.

Okay, maybe that was a little bit visionary.

I invented “Internet addiction” decades before it was even considered for recognition in the DSM V.

So, given the snarking Facebook debacle (“raging” would be hyperbolic), I began toying with the concept of “slow blogging” (as in the “slow food” and “mindfulness” movements). It did occur to me that I might be slower than the movement I was inspired to engender, and I was right.

But then, too, I’ve been slow blogging since the late 1990s, so this “trend” is really more of a trend towards “vintage” or “retro” blogging, and can a regression really be a trend at all? Or is it a rejection of what’s “trendy” and a return to basics?

Oh, whatevs.

The point is that I am now smart enough to check Google to see if the wheel’s already been invented before announcing to the world that I’ve invented it. Or to see if it’s an idea that’s catching on before dismissing it out of hand. (Still kicking myself over VOIP and online auctions. Oh, and online bar trivia games – let’s not forget that one, though to be fair I did not say no to that.) A good search can lead down interesting rabbit holes, and can help you to discover new things on the Internet to love. But sometimes you have to craft the search very specifically, and sometimes you have to look past page five of the search results. Perhaps I should start a “slow search movement.”

Wow, am I ever behind the times. Or maybe I’m just now remembering something that got buried in the noise of the digital hustle: Todd Seiling’s, “Slow Blog Manifesto,” written in 2006 (found in archives at http://www.digitalmanifesto.net/manifestos/11/):

Manifesto

1
Slow Blogging is a rejection of immediacy. It is an affirmation that not all things worth reading are written quickly, and that many thoughts are best served after being fully baked and worded in an even temperament.

2
Slow Blogging is speaking like it matters, like the pixels that give your words form are precious and rare. It is a willingness to let current events pass without comment. It is deliberate in its pace, breaking its unhurried stride for nothing short of true emergency. And perhaps not even then, for slow is not the speed of most emergencies, and places where beloved, reassuring speed rules the day will serve us best at those times.

3
Slow Blogging is a reversal of the disintegration into the one-liners and cutting turns of phrase that are often the early lives of our best ideas. Its a process in which flashes of thought shine and then fade to take their place in the background as part of something larger. Slow Blogging does not write thoughts onto the ethereal and eternal parchment before they provide an enduring worth in the shape of our ideas over time.

4
Slow Blogging is a willingness to remain silent amid the daily outrages and ecstasies that fill nothing more than single moments in time, switching between banality, crushing heartbreak and end-of-the-world psychotic glee in the mere space between headlines. The thing you wished you said in the moment last week can be said next month, or next year, and you’ll only look all the smarter.

5
Slow Blogging is a response to and a rejection of Pagerank. Pagerank, the ugly-beautiful monster that sits behind the many folded curtains of Google, deciding the question of authority and relevance to your searches. Blog early, blog often, and Google will reward you. Condition your creative self to the secret frequency, and find yourself adored by Google; you will appear where everybody looks – in the first few pages of results. Follow your own pace and find your works never found; refuse Pagerank its favours and your work is pulled as if by riptide into the deep waters of undifferentiated results. Its twisted idea of the common good has made Pagerank a terrifying enemy of the commons, setting a pace that forbids the reflection that is necessary to move past the day to day and into legacy.

6
Slow Blogging is the re-establishment of the machine as the agent of human expression, rather than its whip and container. It’s the voluntary halting of the light-speed hamster wheel dictated in rules of highly effective blogging. It is an imposition of asynchronous temporalities, where we do not type faster to keep up with the computer, where the speed of retrieval does not necessitate the same pace of consumption, where good and bad works are created in their own time.

I struggle with #4. We all struggle with #4. The monstrous machine wants us to struggle with #4, because therein lies the secret to manufactured outrage and controversy built on swampland that burns through the Internet like a peat bog fire. We all run to the fire like the adrenaline junkies that we are, until our adrenal glands and our ability to give a flying fuck are utterly depleted.

Some of us long-time slow-bloggers quietly rejoice (if we even noticed) the death of Pagerank, making #5 appear somewhat dated in 2016. Still, there is MOZ and Alexa and StatCounter and Google Analytics and a host of other metrics to fill the void and force us to contemplate our imagined celebrity status – and ultimately, our obscurity and imagined inadequacy.

In a sad postscript, “Even Mr. Sieling, the writer of the Slow Blog Manifesto, gave up his personal blog because he felt no one was reading it. ‘I called it the Robinson Crusoe feeling of blogging,’ he said by e-mail, “and I think it’s common.” (from Haste, Scorned: Blogging at a Snail’s Pace)

Holly Becker of Decor8 talked about the “trend” of Slow Blogging back in 2014 (a super slow “trend” if ever there was one), and this week she muses on the survival of blogging into 2016. I’m not sure that slow blogging ever really caught on, or if it continues to smolder in the embers of an underground revolutionary movement of Bohemian bloggers who eschew money and hot water and sustenance that cannot be cooked on a hotplate. Although the Bohemian blogger exists only in my imagination, so, frankly, does this blog.

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HollyJahangiri

Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle; A Puppy, Not a Guppy; Innocents & Demons; and A New Leaf for Lyle. You can find her books on Amazon at http://amazon.com/author/hollyjahangiri. For more information on her children's books, please visit http://jahangiri.us/books.
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18 thoughts on “Slow Blogging”

      1. 🙂 Cuts down on spam without my having to make you do math. And I KNOW you have more words in you than “I second that recommendation,” so – nyah! And you have the same toys in your toolbox. (I find that the word count and required keyups work very nicely together to almost – but not quite – thwart the spammers.)

      2. Oh Marian! Her blog does this to me all the time. And like you, I complain! And I also bla, blah, blaagh, blah… but most of my comments are rather blah-see, anyway, so, I guess, in a way, great minds think alike. Altho your blahs are a fair bit better than mine….

  1. I love what you’re saying here. I’ve been blogging since 2004. I’ve always maintained that I’m starting a conversation, serious or silly, with each post I write– and being a conscientious introvert I’m careful to write as clearly and authentically as possible. This approach does nothing to raise my rankings, but does put me squarely in the retro idea of slow blogging. Everything old is new again.

    [Found you thru Marian Allen btw.]
    Ally Bean recently posted…This Is Blog Delurking Week? Show Me The Love.My Profile

    1. Hi, Ally! Marian’s good people! (Well, a good person, but her head and her books are full of good characters, so “people” fits, I think!) Welcome to my blog – I’m happy to meet you. I’m a bit of an introvert. Not at all shy, mind you. But social media has a way of bringing some of us out of our shells in ways that don’t seem, at first glance, to fit our true nature. I get tired and drained and burnt out with the speed-of-light pace of the Internet, some days. It’s fun for a little while, until everything is spinning around you and you’re left wondering “WHY?” 🙂

    1. The conventional wisdom says that in order to bubble up from the bottom, you have to constantly feed the machine that feeds the humans their search results. You must take the wheat, the chaff, the gravel, the bugs, the chemicals, the small dead rodents, all of it, and churn out this thing called “content” constantly. Don’t THINK about it – think about ways to shortcut the grueling, constant process of production. Production is not creation or innovation or anything that excites or provokes thought or spurs people to action. It is simply meeting a demand created by a MACHINE that was once meant to serve humans – not it demands to be served BY the humans in the guise of something that is beneficial to them, but as time goes by and more of this “content” is churned and dumped and fed into the machine, the machine has to rid itself of the excrement and it does this by serving it up as search results – to the humans it was meant to serve. Dumps it on their heads and fills their brains with it. Don’t feed that machine. It needs to go on a diet, so that it can have intelligent conversations and do good work again.
      HollyJahangiri recently posted…Does Anyone Really Want to READ About a Writer?My Profile

  2. I blog about my family history. Posts can sometimes take ages to write as I want to be certain of my facts and that I have tied up loose ends before publishing. #2 in your list really resonated with me. I read a few family history blogs and I think they are all slow bloggers (in the nicest possible way).

    1. It’s the difference between a carefully crafted article and a breaking news story. I think The Atlantic is a good example, and I think it would mean more to be published there than in USA Today. (For me, it would.) It’s easy to get caught up in the pressure to be FIRST – first with the story, first to spot a trend, first first firsty first… but it’s somehow less satisfying than to think and write deliberately. Unfortunately, it’s easy to get out of the habit of thinking things through, writing them down, thinking and editing some more, and waiting… I’ve been participating in the Ultimate Blog Challenge (until Facebook tied my hands and wouldn’t let me post or share any links), and one of the hardest things, this time, has been to SCHEDULE a post. I have scheduled all of them, and have been proud of myself for exercising the MASSIVE amount of self-discipline it took to say, “You know what? Just because it’s done doesn’t mean you have to hit ‘Publish.'”

      I have always fought this – it’s in my nature to be deadline driven (and to create artificial deadline pressure, sometimes, just to get the adrenaline flowing to the point where my brain’s sharp!) – then, when a thing is done, it’s done. It’s turned in. Done. I hate submitting work on spec – hate waiting, waiting, waiting just to hear if I have to send it out again.

      That waiting is a discipline I’ve never honed, and it has kept me from submitting manuscripts and publishing more.

  3. I think I’ve always been a Slow Blogger – nothing timely or relevant from me – but it might be accidental.

    Or it might be the side effect of the way most of the posts happen: I do a lot of work in an area of writing where I haven’t found good sources that work for me, and then I write about it – to record it in a coherent form for myself, and to make and ‘acto de presencia’ (act of presence – ie, showing up) on my own blog occasionally.

    I march to the beat of a drummer not known to most other writers, even the ones who use the same software or are also extreme plotters, because I am on the very edge of those who can write with a significant disability.

    So much so that on bad days I can’t write at all, no matter that I sit in the chair all day and try. Doesn’t happen, because the brain activity doesn’t go into ‘thinking’ territory unless the stars are in alignment.

    So I’m slow, but I can still write.

    Naturally, as this is what I’ve known for a long time, I ignore the details and get on with it (maintains some level of sanity to be able to write).

    As a result, I may occasionally seem wise! Nice.

    I’m sure my Alexa rating is in the very large numbers – I don’t know how I have attracted a few lovely followers and commenters, but I think they are also about as many as I can handle, so it works both ways.

    Adrenaline is my mortal enemy; it can cost me days to get its aftereffects out of my system. Because of that, I don’t let myself get riled up – which is also good. Trust me – if I ever let the state of research into certain diseases during the past thirty years get my goat, I’ll be out for months.

    So I go along Slow Blogging – and enjoy the ride.
    Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt recently posted…What does this character do for your story?My Profile

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