18 February 2012

The South Africa blogosphere, unravelled

Amatomu's slogan used to be "The South African blogosphere, sorted."

Well, now it has become unsorted, because Amatomu no longer seems to work. To "unravel" means to pull a knitted garment apart so that all you have is separate strands of wool, and you can no longer see the pattern or shape of the garment, or even the garment itself. It has gone.

And one by one the tools that I used to use to find interesting blogs have gone, or become unusable.

The first to go was Technorati. It's still there, I think, but it's no longer useful. It used to have tags that found blog posts with particular topic tags, but that no longer works. It's become a thinly disguised advertising gimmick.

The next to go was Blog Catalog. That's still there, but some whiz kid who had never heard of the old adage "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" decided to "improve" it. Now it no longer works.

Then it was the turn of MyBlogLog. Yahoo! bought it as a successful running concern from the original developers, and then pulled the plug on it. Yahoo! does that a lot. They did it with Geocities, they did it with Webrings, and they did it with MyBlogLog.

MyBlogLog and BlogCatalog were social blogrolling sites. They allowed each person to sort the blogosphere according to their own preference, but in such a way that others could see them and join in, the theory being that if you liked someone's blog, you might like the blogs they liked, and the people who liked their blog might like yours. Since those two disappeared from the scene, I've lost contact with a whole bunch of blogs that I used to read, and I missed them. I found some again and put them in my blogroll, but that doesn't tell me how often the writers of those blogs visit my blog, as MyBlogLog and BlogCatalog used to do.

But there was still Amatomu for South African blogs. You could see who had posted what recently, and which recent articles were most popular and so on. But now even that's gone.

There's still Afrigator, but I've never understood its user inferface, and no matter how much time I spend on it I never seem to find anything I'm looking for.

Occasionally someone comments on my blog, and I think, hey, I used to read your blog, but I haven't seen it for a long time, and now I no longer know how to find it.

It's all rather sad.

And when I say it's sad people say, you must move on... move on to Facebook and imbibe popular culture and immerse yourself in banal and trivial stuff like "What my friends think I do, what my mom thinks I do, what my boss thinks I do" and so on.

Blogging's better, but it's getting harder to find the good blogs.


CherryPie said...

Blogging is much much better than facebook. I agree with you, it is difficult to find good blogs easily these days.

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Is it my imagination or are people blogging less? I used to read only South African blogs, but they have one by one become inactive or irregularly updated. I think it's sad. If new ones are springing up, I don't know how to find them!

Macrina Walker said...

Having been perusing Amatomu recently (it does seem to be working again), I've really been quite suspicious as to how accurate it is, both in terms of where it places my own blogs (ie the correlation between the traffic my blog, and even more that of The Way, gets and where it sits on the list doesn't make much sense, and it makes even less sense if I click on the Technorati rating) and those of others. Actually, I have even developed a slightly tongue in cheek suspicion that those running it may have an anti-Christian agenda in placing Discerning the World at the top - I mean, is it really possible that such an awful blog is so popular? And what worse advertisement could one possibly find for Christianity of whatever sort? (Okay, possibly Voices from Russia, but I digress...)

I agree with Jenny's comment that people are blogging less and that it's sad. I don't think that it's just in SA, but I've recently been looking at some older conversations on some SA blogs and regretting that I missed out on them as nothing similar seems to be happening now. However, I'm also not doing much serious blogging, something that I hope may change, but that may be illusory...

Having said that, I have recently encountered others (some of the better Orthodox bloggers elsewhere) wanting to move away from Facebook and get back to blogging and there seems a general acknowledgement, at least among some of us, that we have lost something.

Steve Hayes said...

I agree that Amatomo's rankings are pretty meaningless. For example, Dion Forster's old blog has been consistently at number 3, though he hasn't updated it for ages, and ranks above his current blog, which he updates quite frequently.

As for Discerning the world, I think it can be summed up in two sentences:

"What does Discerning the world stand for?"

"We won't stand for much, believe me."

But yes, people have been blogging less and taking all sorts of things to Facebook for which Facebook is an unsuitable platform. But one of the reasons I think people are blogging less is that things like Technorati etc, that used to help sort the blogosphere, no longer work at all, or no longer serve that function.

I find that if I announce a blog post on Facebook, people often comment on Faceboog rather than the on the blog. Two years later, the blog comments are still there with the article, but Facbook comments are impossible to find. For that reason alone, Facebook is not a vehicle for serious discussion, but only really for ephemera.


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