NPF: FORMAT SHIFT

Posted in No Politics Friday on July 28th, 2017 by Ed

I was into capybaras way before it was cool. You could say I'm a capyhipster.

The first anyone on the internet, myself included, knew that the giant South American rodents I love so much could be kept as pets in the United States was thanks to Caplin Rous, the original internet capybara. His owner Melanie Typaldos maintained (and still does) the blog Capybara Madness. Aside from having cute animal pictures aplenty, it told some really interesting stories about a day in the life with such a large, unusual pet. After Caplin's passing, Melanie has since acquired successor capybaras Garibaldi and, now, Mudskipper. Here is a picture of me and Muddy. This counts as one of the greatest days of my life.

Due to some health problems (which she has talked about on the blog, so I'm not revealing anything here) Melanie had a pretty long involuntary blogging hiatus. It happened to coincide with the rise to internet stardom of two new pet capys, JoeJoe the Capybara and Sweetie the Capy. These pets' owners are young Millennial types and understood (correctly) that a barrage of cute pictures on Instagram, Twitter, Vine, and other no-text formats would attract a lot of attention. Both have substantial social media presence now.

Melanie is trying to relaunch her blog and has expressed some frustration with the lack of success. The sad fact is, blogging is already "old fashioned." People are succumbing more and more to the lure of cheap, instant gratification without all that troublesome reading involved. Memes, short vids, pictures, and more pictures. That's what people under 30 today are conditioned to consume. Long-form blogging is probably…not dying, but definitely undergoing a contraction. There just aren't many people doing this anymore, not compared to Peak Blog in the early to mid Aughts.

An additional difficulty, as some commenters pointed out while discussing this on Facebook (tellingly, not on a blog), is the switch to consuming the internet on mobile devices instead of laptops and desktop computers. Most blogs just aren't very easy to read on a phone. Social media are optimized to the size of a phone screen and that means…pictures. Lots of pictures. Videos. Animated gifs. Certainly not strings of compound sentences.

I'm never going to stop doing this for the simple reason that I do it for no reason other than I enjoy it. But the internet is definitely going to see a lot of blogging disappear as people who do it strictly in the hopes of getting attention move to more suitable formats like Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. There's nothing wrong with that, and I'm not insulting people who choose that. It's just a very different approach, and one that I think trades substance for instant gratification. That's the way of the world, though. Formats are forever evolving and information is forever being condensed. It can't be stopped, but that doesn't mean it's a positive development.