Friday, May 2, 2014

Cobwebsites

Earlier this week I listed a few newly coined words from the Internet mentioned by Jeremy Butterfield in his book Damp Squid. One I left out but wish to write about today is cobwebsite, "a site which hasn't been updated for a long time, so that figuratively it has cobwebs hanging off of it." The word may never catch on, but I like it just the same.

Without knowing the word at the time, one of my biggest fears when I started blogging was creating a cobwebsite, a blog that stopped suddenly because I lost interest, lacked the time to continue it or simply ran out of things to say. I wanted a vehicle of expression when I headed into retirement, after more than 40 years of writing for newspapers, but I wanted to be careful not to start a blog whose focus was either too broad or too narrow.

It strikes me that bloggers who leave themselves free to write about anything at all quickly find themselves with nothing at all to write about. As I may have mentioned before, one of the difficulties I faced as an editorial writer was that most days I was free to write about whatever I chose to write about. I always had more trouble finding a topic on those days than when my editor suggested I write about a new city ordinance or a recent Supreme Court decision. I may have had no strong opinions about either the ordinance or the opinion, but having a framework in which to operate made it easier to find something constructive to write. Too narrow a focus can create a similar problem. Had I been told I should write editorials only about local politics I would have been similarly frustrated. Most days I would have been hard pressed to find anything at all to say.

And so I decided to write about the related topics of language and literature, about which there are an endless number of things to say. Yet the focus is narrow enough that I have some idea of where to look to find something to write about. Consequently I have managed, so far, to keep this blog updated on a fairly regular basis, at least two or three times a week. When I miss a day or two it usually just means I am traveling. I'm sure Wordmanship will turn into a cobwebsite eventually. Nobody can go on forever.

I have been looking at some other blogs that became cobwebsites much too soon. Here's one called Bears for Hugs that has not been updated since Oct. 20, 2011. On the penultimate post the blogger wrote, "I realize I never update my blogs anymore, so probably nobody is actually following me ..." Yet that post drew four comments, which is more than I have had in the past six months. It's too bad the blogger lost interest.

Another called Val's Thoughts was, like Bears for Hugs, essentially just a diary put out there for anybody to read. Val's last entry, on May 31, 2012, begins, "Sorry to be so boring! Still not much going on around here." Yet if you go back and read some of her first posts 10 years earlier you can see she once found plenty to write.

A blog called BeLog had 111 posts in 2005, 34 in 2006, 9 in 2006 and just a few over the next several years. The last post, about a concert in Detroit, was written three years ago.

Too many blogs are like Christmas toys, fun for a brief time, but soon forgotten.


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