As you can tell by the picture at the masthead at the head of this blog, I’m getting along in years. For further proof, suffice it to say that the title of this post was inspired by a Kingston Trio song I first heard over fifty years ago: Where Have All the Flowers Gone?.
By the way, just saying the words “Kingston Trio” brings back a flood of memories from my sophomore year in high school. Such youth! Such angst!
(These opening paragraphs were inspired in part by a vow to my sister Mary Ann tomake my blog more accessible. Mary Ann said she has just started reading my blog. She said she found it hard to read my blog since it seemed so technical. so I’m trying to make my blog more accessible to a wider audience, or at least one wide enough to include her.)
As I noted in a recent post, I took a “software sabbatical” from August 2009 to June 2012, by which I mean that I didn’t blog, tweet, link in, or show my face on Facebook for almost three years.
I am thus in the rare position of using all that technology that everyone else has been using for the past three years, but seeing it with fresh eyes.
One thing I can definitely say, or at least state in the form of a question:
Where have all the bloggers gone?
To prove my point, I suggest you visit Sam Ruby’s planet.intertwingly.net.
(Mary Ann (and others), a “planet” is just an aggregation of blogs. The planet hoster makes up a list of blogs, then puts together a simple program so that, whenever a new blog post is made by *anyone* on the list of bloggers, then the blog post is copied to the planet. In brief, readers of the planet see *all* the blogs posts in the list of chosen blogs.)
Now that I’m back blogging, I have found that if I write a post in the morning, and then write another later in the day, or the next morning, then there are only a handful of blog posts from all the other members of the planet in between.
Sam kindly lists the planet members (webonauts?) at the top. Here is the current roster:
Anne van Kesteren
Apache Software Foundation
Arnaud Le Hors
Bill de hÓra
Charles Oliver Nutter
Chris J. Davis
DB2 on Rails
David Heinemeier Hansson
David N. Welton
Elliotte Rusty Harold
Geir Magnusson Jr
Google Data APIs
Google Maps API
Gregor J. Rothfuss
J Aaron Farr
J Paul Reed
James Duncan Davidson
James E. Robinson, III
Jim Winstead Jr.
Justin R. Erenkrantz
Microsoft Team RSS
Raleigh Web Tech
Richard G Brown
Robert Burrell Donkin
Robert S Sutor
Scott James Remnant
Todd “Turbo” Watson
(Before proceeding further, I suggest to Mary Ann the she should ask herself the following question:
If David is writing a blog post that lists all the members of Sam Ruby’s Planet, what happens when he publishes the blog post and it is picked up by Sam’s Planet?
Hint to Mary Ann: For a brief moment — and perhaps for the first time ever — Sam’s Planet will contain a post listing all the members. If only for a few seconds the list of members put up by Sam will appear alongside the list of members in your brother’s post.
This sort of self-referential event is the sort of thing programmers — and bloggers — spend lifetimes trying to achieve.
The same phenomenon can be found in Walker Percy’s novel, “The Moviegoer.” Binx Bolling, the protagonist, finds himself in a movie theater when he sees a shot of the same theater in the movie he is watching on the screen.
I read the book while still in high school — Such youth! Such angst! — before I first went to New York, so I can still remember the time I was in a theater in Times Square on 42nd between 7th and 8th, and saw on the screen a shot of a car driving on 42nd between 7th and 8th, including the billboard of the theater I was sitting in.
Some time you should ask me about recursion. That’s where the fun really starts …
Those of a technical persuasion, especially folks familiar with the open-source world, will note that the cast of hundreds includes many well known names, some of the real ‘heavy hitters,’ using the language that IBM marketing folks like to use.
Though I don’t what these heavy hitters are hitting, the one thing I can state with absolute certainty — assuming Sam is no slouch, and he isn’t — is that *none* of these folks are blogging on a regular basis.
For example, if the last day I have put out more blog posts than the Apache Foundation. The Apache Foundation has its own blog, representing the views of scores of Apache contributors, yet it only posts every two weeks or so.
(Mary Ann: “Apache” does not mean what you think it means. It stands for “a patchy server,” the kind of self-referential language programmers exult in, as noted above.)
We can each venture where they might have gone, as it’s hard to say for sure. I guess most folks would think of Facebook, Twitter, or some other social network.
Then again, if they lost their day job, they can always start blogging.
So if you see a bloger, give them a shake of the hand, a pat on the back, and thank them for their service on behalf of a lost art.
That art would be writing, or least writing more then 140 characters at a time.