Thursday, December 2, 2004

Words In Traffic

There’s a lot of discussion among the blogs about the word “blog” making it into the dictionary. When something reaches critical cultural mass and becomes commonplace, it becomes part of the language, and words such as blogosphere, blogging (as a gerund), blogagble (an adjective describing something worth writing about), and Folkbum’s* invention, blogonym, as in the pen-name of a blogger (“Mustang Bobby” is my blogonym) become a part of our daily life and lexicon. Blogging is no longer the next new thing.

In many ways that’s a relief. Perhaps now the curve of new blogs will flatten out and those who got into it as a lark will lose interest and find some other way to occupy their time. I’ve already noticed a thinning of the ranks, even among those I read and enjoyed regularly. That’s understandable now that the election is over and the thrill of on-line publishing has been replaced by something else – downloading music, maybe – in their lives. I’m glad we had them with us and I wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors. And it reminds me of the years when I was in grad school and used to work out at the University of Colorado Rec Center. There was a regular group of guys that I would see every morning in the weight room, and I got to know them. Most of them were grad students from different departments; Engineering, Education, Biology, and so forth, and we were all about the same age; our early thirties or late twenties. We noticed at the change of semesters that the traffic in the weight room would increase ten-fold at the beginning as the underclassmen would vow to get in shape. We’d watch as the younger guys would stream in, boisterous in their attempts to get buffed to show off for their friends or get ready for the hunt for love and sex. This would last a couple of weeks. Then the soreness of the exertion and the temptations of frat rush would take over, and the ranks of the One-Week Buff Boys would thin out. By the second month of the semester, my gang would have the place pretty much to ourselves again, and we could go back to our routines of weightlifting and having the esoteric discussions about important topics that grad students at a major university would be concerned with, such as the Five Basic Genres of Rock Music (Surf, Doo-Wop, Psychedelic, British Invasion, and Motown) and their influence on modern culture.

The same is happening with blogging. Thanks to the campaign, the number of new blogs rose expotentially over the last year. Now that the election is over, there will probably be a drop-off in both new blogs and blog traffic, leaving it to the stalwarts and the committed (or certifiable) to carry on. Here at BBWW, July, August, September and October were very busy months thanks to the hurricanes and the run-up to the election, but now I’ve noticed a dropoff in traffic, back to the levels I was getting in May. That’s to be expected, and it’s like being back at the Rec Center after the start of the semester; there’s more room, less pressure, and we can get back to the things that really matter…such as changing the world.

*Folkbum rightly earned the title to this term.