Sunday, January 29, 2023

Twelve YEARS of “Never Giving Up”!

This Blog appears to be aptly titled: Never Give Up is now 12 years old, and it shows no signs of… y’know, “giving up.” Why? Am I really that crazy? 

My Blog is still going strong, even though the “hits” on individual articles have plummeted to discouragingly low levels. (Although I don’t really know what those numbers signify.) Sometimes I feel like I’m “The Last Blogger.” I do see Blogs out there, but often their most recent posts are, like, from 2018. I’m not putting anybody down; in fact it’s perfectly reasonable. I wonder, however, how many current Blogs there are out there that have posted 200+ days every year for the past 12 years. And every post is still in the archives! It’s also backed up on PDF files, and a couple of other formats. I hope it will thus survive any Internet disasters that might come along, and remain accessible in some form in the future.

Right now, I probably have enough readers to put in a small classroom… for a seminar. I probably never had much more than that for most of my articles and posts. Sometimes all they get is an “experimental” (i.e. strange) piece of “digital art.” Other times they get pictures of a cute baby. But there is a fair bit of substantial (if rough) writing, and if I repeat the same themes over and over, it’s because I myself need to revisit and remember them again and again. 

There is some material here that should be polished up and put into a more high profile publication. At this stage, I would need technical and editorial assistance to make that happen, and I have no way to hire anybody. It would have to be a labor of love for them (as it is for me)—and I mean the kind of love that looks like this: $0.00 per hour/day/week/month/etc.

I had a couple of Blogs prior to this one. I think I started my first Blog in 2006, when bloggery was already well-established. I was still teaching, and I tried to use it as a potential “new media” forum for interacting with my students. Didn’t have much success with that.🤪 In fact—dear former students, if you happen to be reading—it was one instance in which I deserved all the eye-rolls you gave me or at least wanted to give me (and it wasn’t the only instance, but it was one that I remember). Although I did offer chances for extra credit. People always want extra credit, right?😉

Around the same time, I joined that “Facebook” thingy. But it took me a few years to warm up to using social media. After my book Never Give Up: My Life and God’s Mercy was published in 2010, I began to do more stuff on the Internet. I asked my peeps on Facebook if they would be interested in me doing a Blog and of course there were plenty of people who said, “YES!” (There may have been plenty of others who thought, “No,” but they weren’t gonna post that in the comments.)

Thus I became a “blogger” during what may have been peak season of Blog-dom. Everyone had a Blog. Some Blogs had huge followings and their authors were like rock stars in the world of new media. But then along came Twitter and Instagram and TikTok, turning everyone into producers (and consumers) of short, random, flashy multimedia “shows.” The last decade saw the evolution and extension of audiovisual interactive media on a scale beyond anything we could have imagined in 2011 (well, the folks with webcams making their own funky little videos on YouTube were ahead of the curve)Then, of course, screens shrunk to the size of cell phones even as they exploded with dazzling and distracting (or “engaging”) new kinds of content, and everyone has gadgets with tools to produce and/or share audiovisual “splashes” to the whole world. #️⃣HashtagGlobalVillage #️⃣HashtagNOISYGlobalVillage. Ah, McLuhan saw it all coming 60 years ago. He proclaimed it. He warned us about it.

Meanwhile, blogging is dying. A hangover from the old “Gutenberg Galaxy.” Electronic publishing and distribution have certainly revitalized the printed word (or, rather, the virtually printed word). Books, flyers, newsletters are ubiquitous. The “printed word”—precisely because it is NOT printed—has discovered an unimaginable plasticity. The written word has never been bigger. It’s like a supernova, the last glory of a dying star. The more graphically malleable printed words become, the more they draw on the visual powers of the image. Might we even say, the more they merge with the image?

I’m not saying this is good or bad. I’m just trying to understand what’s happening.

Words are far from “dead,” of course. The written word will endure in all that is essential to it. Attentive writing (and attentive reading) will be rare, but then again that has always been the case. Most of the printed words of the Gutenberg epoch were not really necessary. The essential words will remain legible, and perhaps they may be crafted as they once were, with distinctive visual beauty (even new forms of beauty that will enrich the reading experience). Moreover, audio technology (think of audiobooks, podcasts, recorded lectures, etc.) has revitalized and rendered accessible in new ways the beauty of the sound of words and the possibilities for listening to the spoken word.

Maybe I should do a podcast?

Anyway, here is page one, January 29, 2011. Whatever form communication takes, it will never cease to be the gesture that Luigi Giussani speaks of here. And I will continue to pray for “more light and more strength.”