Sustainable blogging?

Is it possible to blog on indefinitely, sustainably? This question has bothered me for some time, because it is something I have had to face myself.

A fellow blogger who had started around the same time I started this blog has called it quits, at least in the non-profit form. He has decided to concentrate on freelance writing to which he has my full support. If one’s writing is good enough for it to be paid work – if there is a readership that can turned into a livelihood – then go for it.

How sustainable is blogging, especially the kind we do – topic-based blogging? There are four important qualities, I think, which is necessary for a (niche) blog to work.

Familiarity
Undoubtedly the most important quality. Without thorough knowledge of the topic it is near impossible to sustain the writing. But this is only true if you are writing as a pundit. If you are writing from the point of view that of a novice and your personal experience so far then it will work. Then this type of blog is more akin to a journal blog – a record of your journey towards the goal of this knowledge.

Time
Without time to blog then no blog will survive. As a father, a full-time postgraduate student, a teacher and a blogger twenty-four hours is simply not enough. Something has to give. And I don’t think it is fatherhood, research, or my vocation. If you placed blogging up at the top then seriously something must be very wrong with your relationships or priorities.

Spirit of charity
Blogging – especially niche blogging – is truly close to charity… that is unless you have signed up for Adsense. But by and large bloggers have more sense than adsense (except if you are that good then you can cut a living from blogging). Most of us are just satisfied to share with other what we know and make new friends.

Sense of fun and enjoyment
Blogging has to be fun. Otherwise it will feel like a chore.

**

Of the four qualities I have three – familiarity, spirit of charity and a sense of enjoyment. Time is something which is hampering me here. While I do apologise to my readers sometimes for the lack of postings but I think they understand. But also these days my blog is generally supported by new readers rather than regulars. I think people all move on after a while.

Coming back to my friend and his blog I am not saying he lacks charity. His case is different because now he is choosing a professional path. And for that I cheer him on. To me, blogging is only sustainable if there are these qualities. Otherwise there is no inclination to write.

7 thoughts on “Sustainable blogging?

  1. Jared

    As I see it the purpose of blogging is to mobilize the community. The spirit of charity is really a spirit of movement – unless you’re keeping a journal blog, then the intent is to present ideas to others that you hope they believe in and act upon.

    Reply
  2. Steve Salmony

    2007 EXAMPLE OF SUSTAINABLE BLOGGING ?? (and perhaps timely in 2008 ??)

    __________________________________________
    Dear B,

    In the light of E. O. Wilson’s comments about small creatures and today’s report from the World Conservation Union (IUCN) that more than 41,000 species of animals and plants are now on its ENDANGERED SPECIES LIST, do you think it is too early to consider that the evolutionary success of the human species may not be guaranteed? Perhaps it is not too late to consider how the human species in our time could inadvertently precipitate a “Human Community Collapse” by adamantly insisting upon more unbridled growth of business enterprise and human numbers now overspreading the Earth.

    I am concerned that after threatening biodiversity with extinction and the environment with irreversible degradation, and also dissipating the limited resources of Earth, humankind will become an unexpected threat to its own survival.

    Sincerely,

    Steve

    ____________________________________________
    Hi Steve,

    You bring up a very good point, and one that is foremost in the minds of everyone with environmental awareness. The notion of sustainability does not seem to have been infused in equal value to progress made in both the industrial and technological revolutions. When we look closely, it is as if we are but children playing with new toys, not grasping just what they mean nor thinking very far into the future. Anyone who studies simple biology knows that unchecked growth cannot last, that eventually the system that supported whatever it is gets out of balance, and then…well…things change. So at the very least we are looking for sweeping change. How much of it we will see in our short lifespan is uncertain, but what is certain is that even now we are observing first-hand some negative effects of our actions in the past. Nature is very efficient, and certainly will take care of things one way or another. I agree with what you suggest, that we could benefit from applying caution and implementing the enlightened consideration of experts in our approach to the future. Application of knowledge requires official sanction and public policy, which as you know is not so easy to achieve. Hopefully, the brightest minds among us who post their knowledge and recommendations in research & books and who broadcast their views and information on things like TED TALKS will encourage our policy makers to get on the same page, i.e., as stewards of the earth and its abundance rather than exploiters. Ultimately, I have hope, and think a hopeful attitude can have a snowball effect. I’m pretty sure hope is the official stance of this organization, by the way, and why a forum such as this is so encouraging.

    Thanks, Steve, for your posts here and elsewhere on our blogs.
    ___________________________________________
    Dear B,

    Sometimes it looks to me as if some of our brothers and sisters are so focused on the accumulation of wealth and power, in feathering their own gigantic nests, frequenting exclusive clubs, flying private jets, sailing yachts and visiting exotic hideaways, that the “powers that be” have overlooked the certain requirements necessary for the maintenance of our planetary home, which is soon to become endangered by certain unbridled, distinctly human enterprises now overspreading the Earth.

    How do things look to you?

    Always,

    Steve

    ___________________________________________
    Steve,

    I like the idea of everyone coming to see that we are definitely interconnected. Just as the bees and flowering plants need each other, so do we humans need the environment. The sooner we get truly sustainable in our stewardship of the environment, the better. The last 50 years have seen unprecedented wealth and technology, and a few have enjoyed advantages never dreamt of in the past. Hopefully, we will all start doing our part, even the very insulated among us. I’m actually quite optimistic, as I think there is so much positive focus for new energies coming along in young people, and a rededication to creative efforts to make the world a better place in those of us who are older. I certainly can imagine these things building on themselves. It starts right here, wherever we are.

    B.

    ____________________________________________
    Dear B,

    I share your optimism. With good science as our guide and the adequate use of intelligence and other splendid gifts granted to human beings by God, we can choose to respond ably to the requirements of reality, whatsoever they may be.

    Elders like me will hopefully be open to guidance of our young people, as you suggest, and also of the mothers of children, rather than holdfast to the outworn creeds of the children of men among us. The self-proclaimed masters of the universe in my not-so-great generation appear to have lost their way.

    On the other hand, we cannot rule out the possibility that I am one of those unfortunate elders about whom I report, who has lost touch with good science, the natural order of living things, and the limitations imposed upon human life by the very nature of the biophysical world we inhabit.

    I and my generation can and will do better. Of that I am certain.

    Sincerely,

    Steve

    ___________________________________________
    ONWARD!

    B.
    ___________________________________________
    Dear B,

    I believe this is one way to begin. We have to speak of topics that are taboo, just as we do here.

    My greatest concern is that the undoing of the human species, and life as we know it, could inadvertently occur as a result of the adamant and relentless maintenance of SILENCE.

    Silence is something to be feared. Silence is especially terrifying and potentially ruinous when it is actively employed as a tool for denying good science.

    Thank YOU,

    Steve

    __________________________________________
    Steve,

    I don’t mean to be flip, but the old saying comes to mind: “The more the merrier!” We can hope more voices will speak up for beneficial uses of our stunning technologies to forge a path to a wise, efficient, and fittingly sustainable paradigm for the future world. There is another saying that comes to mind should we fail to understand what we need to do, and that is, “That way lies madness.” I am so looking forward to the tipping point, where all accept as a given the need to create and live in a balanced world. I know it is coming.

    B.

    ____________________________________________
    Dear B,

    You make wonderful points. Let me see if I understand you well enough.

    Would it be correct to say that we have a choice: either we can choose to accept the knowledge derived from the best available, good science and deploy that knowledge to maintain a sustainable world, one fit for human habitation, or we can fail to do what is necessary by holding fast to an unsustainable paradigm for the future world…and by continuing to defend flawed data derived from politically convenient and economically expedient mad science?

    Always,

    Steve
    __________________________________________

    …and having the wisdom to know the difference.

    B.
    __________________________________________
    Dear B,

    At least in my humble opinion, THIS IS COMMUNICATION!

    Perhaps humanity has global challenges in the offing, challenges that are formidable, even as we begin to take the measure of them.

    As we steady our focus on these challenges, it becomes evident that there may be no quick fixes to the problems with which we are presented. Business-as-usual brought us to this moment in human history, but cannot take us to the future we picture for our children.

    Contemplate and picture in your mind the business-as-usual activities with which we are familiar. We can see that the unbridled growth of economic activities is overspreading the Earth.

    Now for the hard part: questions.

    Can the seemingly endless growth and the astonishing success of unregulated human production and consumption activities continue in the same old business-as-usual way and at their current scale on a relatively small, finite planet the size of Earth?

    If the Earth is round and has physical limitations, is it reasonable and sensible to consider that there are limits to the unrestricted global growth of human activities on Earth?

    Are there no alternatives to untethered economic globalization?

    Are there no options to the unchecked per capita consumption of Earth’s limited resources?

    Who knows, before long questions like these will become a part of open discussions at international conferences, in governing bodies and spoken of by those in the mass media.

    I and my generation are going to do better, much better.
    __________________________________________
    Steve,

    Your questions almost answer themselves and wholly appeal to common sense. I believe that love of humanity, passion for life and a strong will to survive will eventually corral all of us into the same camp, which is good because we must work together to solve our problems. We may be lucky that things are getting so blatantly out of hand, because a cry for better will eventually emerge. Hat’s off to any who can keep their heads while some around us are losing theirs. Like a teenager on a joy ride, flagrant environmental abuses cannot have good results and therefore cannot last that long. The trick will be coming to the tipping point. I believe we are very very close. I hope others will participate in this inspiring conversation. We believe in the exchange of ideas and invites it with these blogs. Thanks so much for participating.

    ____________________________________________
    Dear B,

    Thanks to you, D., Al and the great scientists of the IPCC, it does appear more and more people are beginning to awaken, finally, with the coming of each new day, to something that is fresh and unforeseen about the world we inhabit.

    I and our dearest colleagues have only become awakened just a matter of days earlier than those who are soon, or else eventually, to be released from their slumber.

    Once awake, people are going to be able to see that while nothing about the surface of the Earth has changed, not really; everything about the wondrous landscape is different in unexpected ways.

    When many in the human community perceive what you and other leaders are saying and doing, it will be as if they are seeing the world God blesses us to inhabit for the first time, I suppose.

    That is going to make a difference.

    All the best to you,

    Steve

    Reply
  3. Katie

    I agree with Jared. Blogging is all about mobilizing and sharing information. On a topic like sustainability, it’s critically important we all continue to get the word out and celebrate great efforts to keep this movement going! I came across a corporate site (yes, I know, shame on me for going there) still, I think it’s one of the most “genuine” sites I’ve seen in terms of sustainability. It’s sponsored by a company called “Steelcase” and it has a really cool resources section and places for people to make “commitments” and “sharing a story” on sustainability. Pretty cool site, worth checking out – http://www.BeAGreenGiant.com.

    Steve – I loved your posting that “silence is something to be feared”… love that one. Couldn’t agree more. We all need to keep this going strong! – Katie

    Reply
  4. signature103 Post author

    Oh, I don’t know.

    There are many types of blogs out there. The type I am talking about is topic-based blogging where it is about a limited number of topics. Sure activism is important but it isn’t the whole world. If it is then blogging wouldn’t be fun now, would it.

    Reply
  5. John Feeney

    Signature,

    Just a quick clarification. I doubt I’ll be paid very often for my writing. It’s just that I’ve concluded that the occasional piece I can get published in a larger publication reaches a great many more readers than one of my blog posts. Yet blog posts were taking up a lot of time. In an effort to reach as many people as possible then, it seemed to make sense to shift my energies from blogging to writing for larger venues.

    I like being freed up, as well, from the pressure of trying to produce new content on a frequent basis. This way I can just write my best stuff, taking as long as it takes for a given article.

    I certainly think blogging has its place though. It seems that, on any topic, a growing chorus of bloggers calling attention to it does spill over into the mainstream media and does reach people.

    I guess I’m just poking around, looking for what works best for me. :)

    Reply

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