Friday, January 14, 2022

Terry Teachout (1956-2022) has Died - A Famous Blogger Extraordinaire

 I never knew of or read Terry Teachout (1956-2022) until recently - he is a published author and  drama critic for the Wall Street Journal, and he started writing his blog, About Last Night, in 2003 - it's not about genealogy, it's about his life experiences.  

In 2004, he wrote about blogging and the impact he thought it would have on society.

1. It’s almost impossible to explain what a blog is to someone who’s never seen one. That’s the mark of a true innovation.

2. I know very few people over fifty, and scarcely any over sixty, who “get” blogging.

3. Blogs without links aren’t blogs. Blogs without blogrolls aren’t blogs. Blogs without mailboxes aren’t blogs.

4. The blogosphere is a pure market - but one in which no money changes hands. If you can afford the bandwidth and your ego is strong enough, it doesn’t matter whether anybody wants to read what you have to say. But the more you care about how many people are reading your blog, the more your blogging will be shaped by their approval, whether you get paid or not.

5. Politicians and celebrities rarely make good bloggers. They’re not interested enough in what other people are thinking.

6. Blogging puts professionals and amateurs on an even footing. That’s why so many professional writers dislike and distrust it.

7. The whole point of a blog is that its author controls its content. That’s why no major newspaper will ever be successful at running in-house blogs: the editors won’t allow it. The smart ones will encourage their best writers to blog on their own time - and at their own risk. The dumb ones will refuse to let any of their writers blog, on or off the job.

8. For now, blogs presuppose the existence of the print media. That will probably always be the case-but over time, the print media will become increasingly less important to the blogosphere.

9. Within a decade, blogs will replace op-ed pages.

10. Blogs will be to the 21st century what little magazines were to the 20th century. Their influence will be disproportionate to their circulation.

11. Blogs are what online magazines were supposed to be.

12. Art blogging will never be as popular as war blogging. More people care about politics than the arts.

13. Blogging is inherently undemocratic in one important way: it privileges literacy. Like e-mail, it is dividing the world into two unequal classes - people who feel comfortable expressing themselves through the written word and people who don’t.

14. If you want to be noticed, you have to blog every day.

15. An impersonal blog is a contradiction in terms.

He was right about most of it - and now social media has overtaken blogging.  But social media is ephemeral - it's not permanent - it won't always be accessible or searchable - and blogs are (at least while the platforms, and the writers, remain).

For a genealogy blogger like me - and hundreds of others - doing this every day is a discipline and a labor of love.  We make no income from doing it, yet we spend time (for me, two or three hours a day) doing it.  

In my case, the point is to have the discipline to keep moving my genealogy education and genealogy research forward step-by-step, a day at a time, and in the process helping the genealogy eco-world and industry - until I'm never finished.   

Terry wasn't finished either, but life happens and we cannot control it. I feel mortal today.  Rest in peace, Terry - you've earned it!  And thank you.


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