While I took a rather extended break from blogging, pretty much since June, I’ve still been present as a lurker of Bermuda’s blog scene. It seems to me as if I wasn’t alone in taking a general break from blogging.
Many of the newer blogs that set up in the last year or two seem to have generally been abandoned, or the posts have been quite infrequent. This in itself is not all that surprising. Blogging takes a lot more commitment than many people might think. It’s one thing to write a comment on Bernews or on the RG online and quite another to maintain a site, moderate comments (if doing so) and come up with an original piece of writing. I think a lot of individuals who may start blogging are soon deterred from it from a combination of the amount of work and time involved, sheer writers block, and discouragement from poor readership levels. While most bloggers will maintain that they don’t really care about readership stats, and that blogging isn’t a popularity contest, I don’t think one can deny that if you see no one reading what you have to say then you’re going to conclude that there are better uses of your time and energy. Myself, I agree it shouldn’t be about the stats, but I still like to know people are reading what I have to say (even if they strongly oppose what I have to say!). My own readership today is a fraction of what it was at it’s height back in 2007-2008. A lot of that is my fault for not being more regular in posting. If you don’t write for several weeks, well, your readers drift elsewhere. It’s hard to get them to come back.
I consider myself as having a background in biology, particularly evolutionary and ecological theory. As such, I’ve often wondered about how the blogs evolve, both individually and collectively. What contributes to the success of one blog over another? How do blogs respond to other blogs? Is there a carrying capacity to the blogosphere, and if so, what determines it? To what degree does the role of niche-selection play?
I think there is some sort of application of carrying capacity (how many blogs can a particular system sustain) to blogs. I reckon this is determined by various factors, such as per capita home computer ownership, internet penetration, overall population and niche development. I reckon cultural mores also play a role too. Bermuda has quite a high rate of home computer ownership, and internet penetration, factors which I think would encourage blogging. We do have a small population though, and I think that is a key limiting factor. Then there is also cultural mores which I think serve as a limiting factor here. In a colonial society there is a tendency I think to avoid overt political discussion or critique. It’s just not done. This is perhaps magnified by our small size and past history, where those that stood up were often shot down. That the internet offers potential anonymnity though should reduce that though, but it doesn’t seem to have done much there, except in the forums such as BIAW or the comments on Bernews or the RG. Rival ‘online’ niches, such as Facebook and online gaming are potentially an important factor here too. Much easier to spend a day on Facebook than blogging. And perhaps I am being too narrow in my definition of what’s relevant from a blogging perspective, limiting it more to social, economic and political critique. Even still then, within that niche (of social, economic and political critique) does the idea of carrying capacity apply?
There are at the moment I think just two other active blogs that fit in my view of blogging. Those are Christian’s Politics.bm – which I see as generally articulating views in line with the One Bermuda Alliance; Walton’s Respice Finem</a> – which I see as generally articulating views in line with the Progressive Labour Party.
In addition to the above there are four other blogs which I think will be active again, or, rather, have only been dormant or reactivated recently. The first of these are Denis’s 21square which has been dormant since early November. Then there is Vexed Bermoothes – which I generally see as being close to OBA views – which itself last posted in early November, but seemed to drop of regular posting in October. There is also New Onion, which I originally saw as being close to the now defunct UBP youth wing and which had generally been dormant for much of the UBP-BDA schism. It has recently restarted posting, and based on it’s posts and my previous thoughts on it (and the transfer of much of the former UBP’s support to the OBA), I think it is now voicing a general line close to the OBA’s youth wing. The last blog is that of bermyonionpatch, who last posted in early November also. This site is a bit hard to characterise, but I would say it voices the line of thinking of a faction within the PLP broad church, even if it is highly critical (and often with good reason imho) of the PLP itself.
Now, with an election expected in the next twelve months, I’m pretty confident that the blog scene will become much more active again, with at least the above five blogs posting more actively. Whether other dormant blogs reactivate again (even briefly), in particular the bermyonionpatch site, I can’t say, but I wouldn’t be surprised. There may also be a new influx of blogs, but as with past blog attempts I would question the long-term staying power of such new entrants. There are, of course, the forums, of which I believe BIAW is the only one worth mentioning. This serves as a sort of communal blog, where many people can start topics and comment. It’s beauty is that there is always likely going to be a new post, so it maintains an active readership, and has the potential for some unique cross-pollination of thoughts and ideas. I do feel that it is dominated by anti-PLP voices, but that is not necessarily a bad thing, nor is it set in stone for that matter. Either way, it provides some unique insights and remains, albeit with recent (my perception, haven’t checked their stats!) drops in activity, the main online ‘blogging’ site. I think Politics.bm is the most read ‘proper’ blog, albeit without comments. Respice Finem is relatively new to the online world, and I don’t think it’s developed an online following to speak of yet, although it’s posts are also carried in the RG on a regular basis, so it no doubt does have widespread readership through that medium. I expect it to develop a more prominent online presence over next year.