Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Stock and Flow of Blog Topics

Regular readers know that the frequency of posts on this blog has decreased substantially over the last year or so. I used to post at least four times per week and often more; now I’m down to about two posts a week, sometimes less. The explanation is what economists will recognize as a stock-versus-flow problem. When I first began blogging, I already had a built-up stock of ideas and opinions to share. In addition, I had an ongoing flow of new thoughts to explore. My blogging drew on both the flow and the pre-existing stock. When the incoming idea flow was light, I could usually supplement it with something from the backlog. But now the stock is largely depleted, and my blogging inspiration must rely mostly on the flow.

I’m sure other bloggers have experienced the same phenomenon, and they deal with it in a variety of ways that I find personally unsatisfying:

1. Blog repeatedly on the same topics with the same ideas and arguments. I do a good bit of this myself, but I generally have an aversion to repeating myself when I could just link to an older post. In the midst of composing a blog post, I’ll often have a moment of déjà vu that induces me to search the archives and discover I’ve already said the same thing before. This usually causes me to abandon the new post unless I have something more to add.

2. Use the blog to pass on links to other blogs, news articles, new research, fun websites, and so on. This is a useful function, but it’s best covered by higher-traffic blogs like Instapundit, Marginal Revolution, the Volokh Conspiracy, and the Agitator. Most items I find worth linking I’ve found on those sites (minus Instapundit, which I don’t care for), and I usually figure anyone reading Agoraphilia probably reads those others as well.

3. Turn the blog into a personal diary. Not my style. For the most part, I prefer to keep my private life private. On a few occasions I’ve broken the rule and divulged personal information (of a non-mundane character) on the web, and more than once I’ve regretted it later. I do, of course, blog frequently on topics like relationships and sex, and readers sometimes assume the topics reflect what’s happening in my life (e.g., if I’m blogging about sex, I must not be getting any!). But my thoughts on these subjects are just as often inspired by the experiences of others or my own experiences in the distant past. I won’t say my ongoing private life never affects my choice of topics, but that’s definitely not the rule. And in any case, I always present it through a veil of abstraction.

So if those strategies are ruled out, what’s left? I could say my useful blogging life is done and turn over the reins to co-blogger Tom. Or I could continue my current dribs-and-drabs strategy, in which I blog only when the fancy strikes and otherwise let the blog lie dormant. Between these two, I prefer the latter, because I still want a place to vent my errant thoughts. But I do have an idea or two about how to rejuvenate the blog, which I will share in the near future.


Anonymous said...

I would rather you keep the blog alive with occasional posts. I have enjoyed reading your commentary, and with news readers (e.g. bloglines) there is no extra effort for us to keep in touch with your site. I would rather read very good, original posts infrequently, then be bombarded with constant "gay marriage" this and "DI vs. evolution" that, and "Bush lied and should be impeached" ad nauseum, which I see on many other sites.

Kevin B. O'Reilly said...

Glen, you should definitely blog more about why you don't blog more often.

Great reading!

Seriously, blog as much or as little as you like. The old imperative of "so many posts a day/week/hour" no longer applies because anyone who really cares about what you have to say has subscribed to your blog's news feed.

dgm said...

we'll take whatever scraps you throw our way.

do you know what the average life of a one or two-person blog is? many of the blogs i've enjoyed over the years have come to a close--often seemingly out of the blue--because the author loses track of the muse (or dumps her).