As of today, I've been blogging for eight years, seven of them as Flavia. Over the last couple of months I've been tagging my old posts, which also means I've been reading my old posts--but I'll spare you any reflections on them, my life, or the Things Blogging Has Done for Me.
Sometimes I think that blogging is over, as a medium--or at least that the kind of academic blogging I discovered eight years ago is over: the daily chit-chat and advice-seeking and community-building stuff has moved to Facebook and to Twitter, while many of those writing more serious reflections on the academy or politics have gone professional, joining group blogs or writing for magazines or otherwise forging links between their blogs and their careers.
These are both fine and useful developments; I don't mourn the livejournal mode of blogging, where we were all writing long posts every day about whateverthefuck. But this kind of sorting means those of us who are neither research-focused nor diaristic, who are no more interested in opinion journalism than in showy confessionalism, may feel a little at sea. I've never seriously considered not blogging, but as blogging and micro-blogging evolve into distinct forms catering to distinct audiences, I'm less sure exactly what it is that I'm doing, who my community is, or who I'm serving.
That said, I'm in no doubt about why I read the blogs I read or about the value they provide. For me, blog-reading is leisure reading: fun, informative, and somewhere on the spectrum between novels and newspapers. The blogs I want to read are idiosyncratic and personality-driven, well-written and reflective, with a strong character and voice regardless of the topics they cover. I don't want to read someone's public diary (even or especially if it's material that would better be kept private), and I don't want to read scholarly material unless I'm actually doing research or prepping for class. I like reading scholarship and I like chatting with both friends and colleagues on social media--but blogs do something different. They allow me access to a personality and an intelligence that I want to spend time with, whose mind I enjoy seeing at work, and who can craft a good paragraph.
Do I like all the bloggers I read, or think I'd enjoy spending an afternoon with them? Usually, but not always--and sometimes it's a qualified "like." I read blogs, really, for the same reason I read and study literature: to inhabit a specific intelligence and aesthetic and to learn more about the ways of being in the world.
As long as that's something that blogs can do, I guess I'll keep trying to do it.