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“Where Have All the Bloggers Gone

By Craig Santos Perez

Gone to Facebook every one / When will they ever learn / When will they ever learn”

it’s true, facebook killed the blogger star. i started blogging in the last semester of my MFA at the uni of san francisco because the prof for American Poetry & Poetics, Rob Halpern, had us comment & post on a class blog and i just fell in love with the format & started my own blog here. the next semester, i studied International Poetry & Poetics with Paul Hoover and used the blog to publish my notes on what we were reading. after graduating in 06, i grew post-MFA lonely, so i decided i would try to annotate HD’s Trilogy on my blog (one of my favorite pieces from this time is here), read other poets’ blogs, and comment whenever i had a chance. at that time, blogworld seemed quite exciting–others who had been blogging for years seemed to have built a certain momentum. little did i know that i entered the scene at its denoument…so many interesting bloggers from the early-mid oughts no longer blog.

reb livingston has an interesting take on the whole phenomenon:

I used to say that FB [Facebook] is for people who want an internet presence, but aren’t interesting enough to blog. I still kind of believe that. I no longer think FB is JUST for uninteresting people. I can count at least 10 interesting people on FB. [...] This all changes the blogging atmosphere from what it was a few years ago. Fewer comments are left here. Statcounters are pretty useless. There’s a lot less of those dull, promotional-heavy, publication-listing type blogs. That’s a big plus in my book. FB and Twitter are much better for that. Of course now I’m dealing with the steady deluge of writers inviting me to become and join their fan pages.

one of my fave bloggers of the past, Jessica Smith, blogged about Facebook on her blog as a “Too Long Facebook status” (she’s so meta):

Jessica Smith feels pangs of guilt for being on FB instead of reading a good book and thus contributing to a post-literate society.  But FB does require literacy– it’s like reading a constantly updated, never-ending book that you can’t reread & that changes based on who/how many write it. & though simultaneity and succession bond all reading at a basic level, FB’s constant stream and dependence on memory (since rereading is limited) makes it more of a successive art like music.

i love this. lower limit blogging / upper limit facebook.

Ron Silliman, in this recent article on the Poetry Foundation writes: “Poets blogging is just a symptom.”

Well, then I have whatever disease Ron is talking about. My name is Craig Santos Perez & I’m a blogaholic. And instead of helping me fight my addiction, the Poetry Foundation is enabling my sickness. Will real change ever arrive?

in a blogpost dated 2/23/09, Johannes goransson writes:

The real change brought by the Internet is precisely in the new social formations brought on by these e-chapbooks and e-zines etc [...] The proliferation of these sites and communities has totally altered literature so that the Poetry Foundation can only pretend that there is a unified “forefront” (the very concept is an antithetical).

talk about ‘valorizing communities’ johannes! anyhoo, take that Poetry Foundation! stop pretending!

*

Comments (62)

  • On January 4, 2010 at 8:48 pm Wendy Babiak wrote:

    LOL, Craig! I’m looking forward to reading your posts. (Sorry, I don’t mean to be an enabler…)

  • On January 4, 2010 at 9:02 pm csperez wrote:

    thx wendy, for being part of the problem. i look forward to your comments :)

    cs

  • On January 4, 2010 at 9:19 pm Kent Johnson wrote:

    Speaking of Facebook, can anyone explain to me how to get off it? I was invited to join a Facebook poetry magazine about two years ago, and I had to sign up for an account to do so. Ever since, I’ve been getting all these “Friend” requests, and I have never even posted a word to my “Page.” Not only that, I don’t even know what it means to be a Facebook “Friend.” Does one have to do something? Anyway, now I don’t know how to delete this “Page” I apparently have.

    Craig, may all your Harriet posts be as smart and funny as this first one.

  • On January 4, 2010 at 9:25 pm csperez wrote:

    Kent, just give in to Facebook. Or, as Whitman tells us, “GO FORTH.” i have over a thousand “Friends” on Facebook and only three of them are ex-girlfriends. so you see, there’s no danger.

    I should prob tell you that you and I are “Engaged” on Facebook. Don’t worry, all that means you have to do is give me a “Poke” every now and again ;)

  • On January 4, 2010 at 9:31 pm Reb wrote:

    Craig, I just shared this on my FB wall–and I’m gonna TWEET it too. But I’m not going to mention it on my blog cause then I’ll have to come up with something interesting to say about it.

    Reb

  • On January 4, 2010 at 10:04 pm Richard Villar wrote:

    Craig Santos Perez…if you were Frank Sinatra, I would totally throw my hotel key up on stage.

    Give ‘em heck. Much much heck.

    Rich.

  • On January 4, 2010 at 10:12 pm Kent Johnson wrote:

    Craig,

    The bad thing is that I get these notices that ask me if I want to “approve” the “Friend” requests, but I don’t want to do that, since I don’t want to have anything to do with Facebook. (Really now: Do you honestly think Whitman would have used Facebook? There is no way. Nor would Dickinson have. Can you imagine what Spicer would have said about Facebook? Duncan? Niedecker? Oppen? The whole thing is a ridiculously superficial networking thing run by a corporation founded by a sixteen year old. I can’t believe poets right now are so lemming over it. Talk about herd mentality!)

    But then, you see, I feel bad when I don’t “approve” these people, because maybe the people who want to be my “Friend” will think that I don’t like them, or something, even though I don’t even know 90% of the people who have put in the request.

    So seriously, if you or anyone can tell me how to get off the freaking thing, I’d really appreciate it.

  • On January 4, 2010 at 10:55 pm Bean wrote:

    Kent,

    To ‘get off it,’ you simply go to your settings tab, but you have to get in (your profile page) to do so. Once on your profile page, to the top-right is the settings tab. Select (I believe) the privacy tab and there, you should find a choice to ‘deactivate’ your account.

    Even if you deactivate, if the calling of the Facebook siren is so strong that you must get back in… it will hold your info.

    Good Luck!

    Bean

  • On January 4, 2010 at 11:28 pm Joseph Hutchison wrote:

    I’m one of those who asked to be your friend, Kent. You never responded. I was hurt. Despondent, in fact. Now I feel better. You don’t hate me; you’re just rude. Everyone on Facebook is obligated to respond to anyone who knocks at their Facebook door. Once you have a Facebook door you have it forever. Like an artificial hip. Or a stent. Or a scar. You may choose not to open your scar when needy people knock, but you can’t pretend the scar isn’t there. Of course, if you open your scar all manner of unseemly matter may leak out. Facebook friends seem to enjoy it. Pretty soon you’re telling them all that you just ate a new kind of cheese on a new kind of cracker; you’ll even post photos of the cheese-and-cracker and of you eating it. One day you’ll start playing Farmville and sending electronic beers to your friends. The world outside Facebook will begin to seem less and less interesting, but at least it’ll provide something for you to draw on for wall posts. You know–”subject matter.” It’s all very postmodern. Or post-avant. (Is that it?) What really counts, though, is that you click Accept when I Friend you. Watch for my request! If you ever regret it you can defriend me. But I’d recommend against it. I’m your number one fan, if you know what I mean….

  • On January 4, 2010 at 11:36 pm Dan Coffey wrote:

    The last thing I saw before being led to this blog post was this re-”tweet” from McSweeney’s: “I’m going to start writing a blog except I’m not going to put it on the web. I’m going to keep it in a notebook.”

  • On January 4, 2010 at 11:47 pm csperez wrote:

    kent,

    i’d agree that duncan & oppen would not Facebook. and who cares what spicer would have thought (he had a small penis afterall, according to his biographers). and have you never read niedecker’s poem “The Poet’s Work”:

    Grandfather
    advised me:
    Learn a trade

    I learned
    to sit at computer
    and blog

    No layoffs
    from this
    bloggensery

    and PLEASE: whitman would so have a blog, facebook, & twitter. he was a brilliant self promoter. i dont get all the complaints about levi’s commodifying his poems…his poems are autocommoditizing.

  • On January 4, 2010 at 11:50 pm csperez wrote:

    joseph, this is so true:

    “of course, if you open your scar all manner of unseemly matter may leak out.”

    i recently learned thru facebook that a former Harriet Blog blogger had their penis circumcized (no, it was not eileen myles).

    c

  • On January 5, 2010 at 12:10 am Kent Johnson wrote:

    >i recently learned thru facebook that a former Harriet Blog blogger [...]

    OK Craig, everyone gets a pass on one big mistake. Delete that one and everyone will forgive…

    (But your Niedecker poem is a smash hit.)

  • On January 5, 2010 at 12:19 am csperez wrote:

    oh cmon kent i just made that one up in a sad attempt to get you to join facebook ;)

    c

  • On January 5, 2010 at 1:01 am Benny wrote:

    Facebook is blogging for dummies.

  • On January 5, 2010 at 3:18 am Vivek Narayanan wrote:

    Kent,

    Turns out there’s no easy way to delete all the material you’ve put up on facebook; they make it that way. I hope it’s not going to end badly. But there is something called the “Web Suicide Machine” that helps by automating the process. See:
    http://www.hindu.com/2010/01/03/stories/2010010355281000.htm

    Unfortunately, facebook has blocked their url at the moment, but they’re trying to get around it!

    Yes, Spicer would have loathed it with a passion, but I agree with Craig about Whitman surely he would have been an animal on facebook! Like that poetry guy with 9000 friends and seven different fan clubs in his name. Which is not to say, alas, that every animal on facebook is necessarily a Whitman.

    And as for Niedecker on facebook, I wonder if, paradoxically, it would have allowed her to be a little less at the mercy of her so called friends…?

  • On January 5, 2010 at 9:56 am Matt wrote:

    you get off it by deleting your account

  • On January 5, 2010 at 10:33 am Kent Johnson wrote:

    Thanks Bean. This is what I needed!

  • On January 5, 2010 at 10:43 am Kent Johnson wrote:

    Joseph,

    >Once you have a Facebook door you have it forever. Like an artificial hip. Or a stent. Or a scar. You may choose not to open your scar when needy people knock, but you can’t pretend the scar isn’t there. Of course, if you open your scar all manner of unseemly matter may leak out.

    With some tweaks in the syntax and a few dashes, this could be right out of one of Dickinson’s Master letters.

  • On January 5, 2010 at 11:05 am Kent Johnson wrote:

    Hi Vivek,

    Yes, you and Craig might be right about Whitman. He did write his own reviews. I suppose Facebook and personal blogging are somewhat in that self-regarding spirit.

    Wouldn’t Frank O’Hara would have been great on Twitter?

    Actually, can Twitter messages be saved, I wonder, for future scholarship?

    Who is the poet with 9000 friends and seven fan clubs?

  • On January 5, 2010 at 11:10 am sassjemleon wrote:

    what killed blogs, for the most part, is the fact that most bloggers cannot handle the comments they receive–or don’t receive because nobody reads their blog.

    blogging currently occupies a position as one of the lowest forms of art–just below the all but dead art of letter-writing, slightly above the all too lively form of facebooking–and usually attracts anonymous bottom-feeders such as myself who, given the ease of chance and an unmoderated comments section, are going to tell you the truth about your life, your ideas, or your writing. it’s generally not a pleasant experience for your mild-mannered blogger who simply wants to network and socialize with friends, which is essentially what facebook offers in a much more controllable, private, and friendly atmosphere.

    as mentioned above, because honest comments from strangers are generally hard to take, the blogger will then begin to moderate their comment threads, causing the bottom-feeders to drift away. of course, then the blog becomes even more boring than it originally was (most bloggers are habitually boring by nature). you need the bottom-feeders/critics to alleviate the boredom and provide the proper amount of diverse interaction that any decent blogger will strive to develop.

  • On January 5, 2010 at 11:26 am Joshua wrote:

    Sass, you’re deluded. It’s because you’re actually a reasonable commenter, but the type of “interaction” most bloggers get in the comments section is vitriolic sexism and racism from disenfranchised middle aged white guys with their pants around their ankles. Good riddance.

  • On January 5, 2010 at 12:19 pm Barbara Jane Reyes wrote:

    Craig! You’re here! Now you can sit at the table with me and Javier! Yay!

    Anyway, good post. I continue resisting FB, I do Twitter but still wonder about its usefulness, and I still enjoy blogging, though I do it a little less often and much less whimsically than I used to. Like you, I started blogging because one of my profs at SFSU (Jeffery Paul Chan in Asian American Studies) assigned weekly responses to writing prompts.

    These days, Reb is right, that there are less comments, and/or less conversation happening in comment sections. I think this has to do with blogging’s novelty wearing off, as well as a growing awareness of what results from “speaking” in public e-spaces.

  • On January 5, 2010 at 1:03 pm sassjemleon wrote:

    miss reyes, i read reb’s blog all the time. her blogging style changed in direct response to the reader response it was attracting, and, if i remember correctly, she was pretty up front about this. it was that change in style that lead to her blog becoming much less interactive and more insular.

  • On January 5, 2010 at 1:52 pm Sina Queyras wrote:

    Craig,
    I hear you about facebook–it spelled a mass exodus of bloggers for a while. And it saddened me in part because there isn’t a lot of room for conversation on facebook, which is, as you and others point out, more about self-marketing. What worries me most about it also happens to be what most people love: it’s a small, contained universe.

  • On January 5, 2010 at 1:53 pm csperez wrote:

    people! stop telling kent how to delete facebook! we are supposed to get him to submit! seriously kent, arent you curious about what happened to seth abrahamson (for example), who mysteriously disappeared? if you were on facebook you may or may not learn about a possible threesome with possibly a NYU professor and maybe or maybe not his wife that may explain the disappearance cuz it may or may not be true.

  • On January 5, 2010 at 1:56 pm csperez wrote:

    i also think o’hara would have tweeted & facebooked for sure.

    i think antin couldve done continuous tweet poems.

    and the beats totally would’ve tweeted from the road. tho they would have gotten into a lot more accidents ;(

  • On January 5, 2010 at 1:57 pm Matt wrote:

    well, not everybody on facebook has something to market. writers have books to market, but most people on facebook aren’t writers.

  • On January 5, 2010 at 1:59 pm csperez wrote:

    yeah, trying to keep the comment field engaging is a tough one. no one wants to deal with mean comments and no one feels like putting too much effort into posting if no one is commenting. but then no one comments unless you put effort in. i dunno…seems like the bloggers that will survive are those that are doing it for themselves and not necessarily for the feedback/dialogue.

    c

  • On January 5, 2010 at 2:03 pm csperez wrote:

    yay can i sit at the big kids’ table now?

    yeah that speaking in public is a weird thing. can be dangerous. look at what happened to seeth abrahamsson. such a tragedy.

    tho i’m glad you are still blogging substantially; if you quit i dont know if my blog would survive much longer.

  • On January 5, 2010 at 2:06 pm csperez wrote:

    hey sina,

    yeah it’s the conversation i miss. someone writing a thoughtful post and the dialogue continuing for a few days. facebook is so bulletpoint fast.

    xo
    c

  • On January 5, 2010 at 2:07 pm csperez wrote:

    i should also say: i dont mind the self marketing so much (either on facebook or blog), i like to know what folks are doing. but i do also enjoy conversation–especially when it’s fun like this!

  • On January 5, 2010 at 2:08 pm sassjemleon wrote:

    csperez, the whole point of blogging is the feedback/dialogue, which is why all blogs come with a comment box. if you’re not getting any feedback on a public blog, you’re not doing it right and you should probably stop wasting your time.

  • On January 5, 2010 at 2:19 pm Barbara Jane Reyes wrote:

    “seems like the bloggers that will survive are those that are doing it for themselves and not necessarily for the feedback/dialogue.”

    Yes on this, though sometimes I’m not too clear on what the difference is between blogging for yourself versus blogging for feedback/dialogue with others. At my most optimistic I think of blogging as a potential venue for community formation, though most of the time it becomes the solitary act writing and putting it out there w/o any guarantee that anyone is reading.

  • On January 5, 2010 at 2:25 pm csperez wrote:

    sass,

    if i had a dollar for everytime someone told me i was doing it wrong and should wasting my time…

    i dont think that’s the ‘whole point’. the web log platform has a multitude of uses…conversation/comment being just one (tho an important one).

    c

  • On January 5, 2010 at 2:27 pm Jordan wrote:

    > Wouldn’t Frank O’Hara

    Hmm, I was going to say no, but what about that period around when he wrote Lines for the Fortune Cookies:

    “A few dance lessons with James Waring and who knows? Maybe something will happen.”

    Or there’s this from “The Sentimental Units”:

    “If only more people looked like Jerry Lieber we would all be a lot happier, I think.”

    Most of the time, though, I think he’d be a bit too cryptic for Twitter — “Mayakovsky’s hat worn by a horse.”

  • On January 5, 2010 at 2:29 pm csperez wrote:

    barbara,

    quite true. for me, i write some posts that i hope will evoke dialogue, some posts that are meant to spread info/announce news, and some posts that are just meant to entertain myself. and, of course, i try not to be disappointed if no one comments.

    xo
    c

  • On January 5, 2010 at 2:37 pm sassjemleon wrote:

    you’d have like 50 bucks or so…. seriously, public blogging, by definition of the artform, requires feedback and interaction with the blogger on a semi-regular basis. sort of like painting requires brushes.

  • On January 5, 2010 at 2:40 pm Jill wrote:

    It doesn’t.

  • On January 5, 2010 at 2:48 pm Edwin Torres wrote:

    amen to that…and welcome to the ‘big’ table!

  • On January 5, 2010 at 2:52 pm sassjemleon wrote:

    okay jill, yes, you are correct, not necessarily brushes all the time, but certainly some type of tool to mix the paint and project it onto the surface to be colored.

  • On January 5, 2010 at 3:50 pm Gary B. Fitzgerald wrote:

    More like how painting needs eyes.

  • On January 5, 2010 at 4:31 pm Bean wrote:

    Ought I then, hold my friend request… ; )

  • On January 5, 2010 at 4:34 pm Matt wrote:

    i believe that was a RT of @rainnwilson

  • On January 5, 2010 at 4:57 pm Bean wrote:

    one tiny correction: you can be anywhere within your FB account, top-right tab ‘settings’ next choose ”account settings’ bottom select: deactivate.

    A positive aspect to enabling a friend. Hah!

    Bean

  • On January 5, 2010 at 5:08 pm Don Share wrote:

    Well, Whitman seemd to like new technology, viz. – the Edison machine for recording sound:

    http://www.whitmanarchive.org/multimedia/America.mp3

  • On January 5, 2010 at 6:11 pm Kent Johnson wrote:

    Don,

    Isn’t there a controversy over that recording? It’s not a sure thing that it’s Whitman, is it?

    Personally, I hope it’s not. It just doesn’t sound like Whitman should sound!

  • On January 5, 2010 at 7:21 pm csperez wrote:

    thanks for sharing the link don! it’s new to me.

  • On January 5, 2010 at 7:22 pm csperez wrote:

    haha maybe the levi’s jeans whitman wore during that reading were a bit too tight and affected his voice ;)

    c

  • On January 5, 2010 at 8:38 pm Joelle Biele wrote:

    Craig, thanks for the post! I’m interested in how tech is changing culture, so I’m really looking forward to your posts. I agree–Whitman and O’Hara would have had a blast with blogging/fb/twitter–

  • On January 5, 2010 at 8:55 pm Kent Johnson wrote:

    Hey Jordan,

    Happy New Year. I actually wrote a poem once in imitation of “Lines for the Fortune Cookies.” But it was so bad I decided to not include it in my last book. In fact, I now completely renounce it. (It’s at Fascicle #1 if you want to see it, though.)

    Here are a few lines from the poem that aren’t overly embarrassing to quote. Maybe they would work alone as Twitters? (By the way, do you need a special hand-held gizmo to do Twitter, and if so, what is it called and how much does one cost?)

    >A few rounds with the editors of the The Believer and who knows? Probably nothing will happen, but maybe something wonderful will!

    >I realize you’ve gone to school in Providence, and OK, yes, so I realize you know EVERYONE!

    >You drink the piss of Language-Poet. Why do you drink the piss of Language-Poet?

    >You too could experience the following epiphany, breaking open, as you have, this cookie: Poetry exists because the essence of any thing is always incommensurate with its Being.

  • On January 5, 2010 at 9:21 pm Francisco Aragón wrote:

    My cent: I guess I sort of see the blog as a tool that can be used for multiple things. In the case of Letras Latinas Blog, it’s partly to fulfill a particular mission (LL’s mission), and partly to serve as a self-contained archive to document the attempt to carry out that mission, as when I recently listed all the poets who read in PALABRA PURA from 2006 – 2009. In short order I’m going to be posting 300-word reflections by Latina poets on what were memorable “poetry events” in 2000-2009 for them.

  • On January 5, 2010 at 11:55 pm Jeroen Nieuwland wrote:

    This was the answer until a while ago, but seems Facebook is blocking them:

    http://suicidemachine.org/

  • On January 6, 2010 at 5:46 am ron davis wrote:

    (cue allen iverson) “facebook? you wanna talkabout facebook?!?”

    man, i just got caller i.d. on my house phone… my favorite music comes from a mixtape held-over from high school (class of ’85 forever!)

    i’m still reeling from how blogging killed the poetry message boards!

  • On January 6, 2010 at 7:03 am Eric Landon wrote:

    Facebook is almost impossible to get out of once you’re in it. But if you follow the instructions in the ‘setting’s tab, you should be ok.

    Great start Craig! Looking forward to reading more.

  • On January 6, 2010 at 8:56 am Jordan wrote:

    Oh Kent. Those are terrible! (I mean that in the best possible way.)

    Incidentally, in early 2001 some Danish filmmakers titled a documentary about the New York School after that O’Hara line, “something wonderful may happen.” Unfortunately, what anybody watching the film now has to recognize is the conditional quality of that line — the opening tracking shot is from a boat approaching lower Manhattan, looking up at the World Trade Center.

  • On January 6, 2010 at 9:10 am Kent Johnson wrote:

    It’s a wonderful documentary, and I’m not sure why it’s not more talked about and available. Would be nice if Poetry Foundation or someone put that online, if possible.

    And you look and sound good in it!

  • On January 6, 2010 at 10:38 am sassjemleon wrote:

    mr aragon, because blogging templates are fairly cheap and easy to get up and running, many people incorporate them as ersatz websites where an actual well-designed website would lend itself to better organization and browseability. whereas a poem should encompass at least a few strong elements of poetry, a blog should function mostly as a blog.

  • On January 6, 2010 at 10:47 am Don Share wrote:

    I’ve written elsewhere, as have others, about this. Not much of a controversy, though it’s true that the orig. recording as an object no longer exists. Proof is therefore unlikely. But think about it: Whitman and Edison were neighbors in NJ; Edison and his agents, we know for a fact, recorded other poets at precisely the same time as this recording was apparently made – including Tennyson and Browning – and that he planned to record Whitman. So there’s plenty of circumstantial evidence. Maybe folks who don’t want to believe that it’s Whitman have an anachronistic idea of the “Brooklyn accent” !

    See also:

    http://www.nytimes.com/1992/03/16/books/poem-is-whitman-s-is-the-voice.html?pagewanted=all

  • On January 6, 2010 at 12:37 pm Kent Johnson wrote:

    Very interesting.

    But I’m going to keep pretending that Galway Kinnell’s voice on the old Voices and Visions episode is Whitman’s.

  • On January 6, 2010 at 1:12 pm Thom Donovan wrote:

    I used to be really wary of the conversation moving to FB–mainly because I worried about privitization/expropriation of online discourse. I still think this is a problem. But there is a complex circuit that now runs among FB, blogs, list servs, websites, and other on- and -off line sites. The question is: how shall there be a conversation, and how extensive and involved shall this conversation be? When I think about the use of these technologies I always think about the repercussion of a particular posting (is this something I want out there? is it static? what kin dof work is it doing?) Though my work is increasingly on line I’ve never wanted to take up space with “my” voice, but link things up, and act consequentially… Good to “see” you here Craig. Looking forward to posting with you these next few months… –Thom

  • On January 7, 2010 at 10:47 pm John wrote:

    Craig,

    Thanks for getting most of the way to Seethe Abramson, the most appropriate typo I’ve seen this decade!

    JB


Posted in Uncategorized on Monday, January 4th, 2010 by Craig Santos Perez.