A crisis of content

I’m not really sure where this site fits into my life or into the internet anymore.

Otherstream and its predecessor have been my primary public outlet for over fifteen years, but it really seems to be coming to an end in tecent months. I just don’t seem to have anything much left to say. What I do manage to publish lately is so trite, superficial, and generally pointless that it might as well be a Twitter feed. And that’s not where I want to go. If I wanted a Twitter feed, I’d have one. The point of this site has been to publish something a little more substantial and to do it using a publicly-accessible medium that doesn’t require a password or a subscription for access. You don’t have to be my “friend” or to “follow” me to read what I have to say here. And that’s extremely important to me. It always has been. I believe in (forgive the touchy-feely language) serendipitous discovery; we should occasionally read something that’s outside our Facebook newsfeed or Google Reader. That’s part of why I’ve always been a fan of the printed newspaper; that format allows my eye to wander sometimes into a story it might not otherwise find.

Facebook is fine for what it is, I guess. For me, what it is is a way to keep up up with some friends I don’t have enough real live conversations with. The vast majority of my 103 “friends” are hidden from my news feed because they never post anything but useless clutter that I couldn’t care less about. In fact, many (most?) of those 103 people are not even friends in any real sense of the word, but coworkers, former coworkers, and the occasional old friend I’ve lost touch with over the years– and for good reason, I realize from time to time.

It’s sometimes not even a particularly effective way to keep up with real friends either, as I try to decipher veiled references and cryptic comments that largely make me realize just how little I really know about what is going on in that friend’s life. Similarly, I recently posted a status update that was really a bit melancholy and a woman who’d been an acquaintance in college very quickly and breezily “liked” it (as she does with damned near everything I post) which only served to prove that she doesn’t really know me from Adam anymore, either. It also demonstrated that I may be guilty of posting in a not-very-forthcoming manner myself. Not that there was any doubt about that to begin with…

Mind you, a few of my friends post very useful clutter that amuses me greatly and they also post personal updates that I’m happy to read and that actually provide some insight.  But in many ways, I think Facebook, Twitter, etc. are impediments to–or substitutes for–actual, meaningful communication. Internet publishing–or the personal variety, as currently practiced–places no value whatsoever on reflection. It’s all about whatever one is thinking or doing right this very fucking second, with no acknowledgment that what one was thinking or doing five minutes (or five years) ago might have had some bearing on the present as well. This weekend, I hesitated about posting a context-heavy journal entry with some photos that were taken a week ago because it all felt so “behind the curve.” After all, I really should have posted them last week when they still mattered. But you know what? They still matter, maybe more than they did last week, because I’ve had time to reflect on the significance of the events surrounding them and what it all means to me.

But I still haven’t posted the photos or the commentary. Or many other posts, with or without many other photos or commentary. And that’s the problem.

I want this to be a site to have substantial content aimed at the “public” and not just my friends. But that public has largely moved on to something else. Nowadays, this pretty much is just a site that my friends read. And why they’d bother anymore is quite beyond me, because I never seem to get around to saying anything substantial either. I’m either self-censoring (but that’s another topic for another day) or not bothering to say anything to begin with.

More navel-gazing? I’m allowed one of these every few years, I guess. It may be the end. It may not be the end. I may still be doing this long after Twitter and Facebook have ceased to exist. Whether I continue or now, most of the planet won’t know the difference anyway. And ultimately, it doesn’t matter that much because the site is primarily for my own amusement, as I’ve noted on many occasions. But if I didn’t need the “publishing high” this would just be a password-protected Live Journal page or something on my local hard drive, wouldn’t it?

4 thoughts on “A crisis of content

  1. I’ve been reading Otherstream over ten years at this stage. I lurked about in the South of Market vicariously through this here journal before I ever visited the city. I’ve visited Portland, Seattle, North Carolina with you, I’ve travelled the plains, crossed the canyons on this site. For me Otherstream has been a sorta companion, a sorta friend. Back then i think I was too shy, too scared to voice an opinion but over the years i felt the need to drop a hey, I’m a reader of your blog type note.
    I love your journal David. I’d like to say I care, as a buddy, I do.
    I am onto the NotW case too. I’ve had a horrid weekend of car trouble – timing belt went, money trouble – with all the hoo ha about the car I went and left my wallet on a bloody bus. Gah.
    Goodnight from Dublin.

  2. I think you need to go at your own pace. Publish what you like, when you like. If that means one post a year, so be it… but I think you would miss it if you took it down. Just my opinion.

  3. A personal blog may seem quaint by today’s standards but who cares; remember ten years ago when you could type “Simpsons” in a Netscape browser and see scores of fan pages scrutinizing every detail of the episode and when you do that same search today you see Wiki, IMDB, and a few YouTube clips. I suppose they’re more informative now but where is the passion and the personal viewpoint? We need more webpages made by people instead of those ones where you click a box and get a sterile cookie cutter design with a “Like” button.

  4. Thanks all. Though I really wasn’t fishing for compliments, I never turn them down, either.

    I’m not sure how that whole post went from “I don’t have anything to say” to “it’s all Facebook’s fault.” There’s a connection there, I guess, and it’s probably that I’m not sure if I really have anything much more appealing than a Facebook feed here these days, anyway. But even if I’m not 100% amused by it, I’m not so bummed as to stop just yet, I guess.

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