Tracy is writing a "eulogy" for blogging on the occasion of the NYT shutting down a bunch of its blogs. But the NYT only had blogs in response to the blogging trend, and were those blogs really blogs? The real bloggers were people like Andrew Sullivan. Circa 2001:
The Internet had empowered a few strong writers to create their own brand (if you were idiosyncratic—say, if you were gay, English, Catholic, and heretically conservative—then all the better) and a few strong big brands to create their own small brands....How impatient can we get? I'm getting impatient with Tracy right now. I want to interrupt and say that blogs are a great format if you have a distinctive voice, and not just if you have idiosyncratic attributes — like gay, English, Catholic, and heretically conservative. The form — the blog — was so great, so powerful, so liberating, that many, many writers said me too, often pushed by an old-style publisher like the NYT that needed to have blogs to seem up-to-date. What made the age golden was the greatness of some blogs, like Sullivan's, not the sheer number of blogs at any given time.
We will still have blogs, of course, if only because the word is flexible enough to encompass a very wide range of publishing platforms: Basically, anything that contains a scrollable stream of posts is a "blog." What we are losing is the personal blog and the themed blog. Less and less do readers have the patience for a certain writer or even certain subject matter.
Sullivan's blog was almost like a soap opera pegged to the news cycle—which I mean as the highest compliment.... A necessary byproduct was that even if you were a devotee, you were not interested in about half of their posts. You didn't complain, because you didn't have an alternative. Now, in the form of your Twitter feed, you do, and so these old-style blogs have no place anymore.So, when there were only blogs, one had no choice, but now that there are blogs and Twitter, no one will choose blogs anymore? That makes no sense. First, blogs were an alternative to old media. You could still read the New York Times and The Washington Post and provide your own operatic drama. There was a time when we read the newspaper and talked with family and friends about the stories over the breakfast table and in the coffeehouses. Later, it seemed cool to enlarge our circle of interlocutors with somebody from the internet, like Andrew Sullivan (or Glenn Reynolds). And if you got the nerve, maybe you'd offer yourself on a blog as somebody who was willing to be a virtual presence in other people's conversations. (And if you are me, you got one of those interlocutors to actually materialize at your breakfast table.)
Old media survived the onset of blogging, and blogging will survive Twitter, and Twitter will survive ???
Whatever comes along next will change what lives on from the old days. And the old folks will always tend to think that there was, not too long ago, a Golden Age.
ADDED: I think this is very relevant: "...the rise of the internet media and social media and all that stuff. He hates it. Okay. He hates this part of the media. He really thinks that the sort of the buzzification, this isn’t just about BuzzFeed or Politico, and all the stuff, but he thinks that sort of coverage of political media has hurt political discourse. He hates it." (That's Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press" yesterday, talking about Obama.)