Indiblogger Closes Shop: Another Nail in the Coffin for Blogging?

So this post has been lying in the drafts for a while – early on in June, Renie Revin, one of the leaders of the Indiblogger movement – posted a rather disheartening blog post on the Official Indiblogger blog. In “Break on Through” Renie admits to facing operational difficulties – which, I think means money troubles. He mentions two reasons for which things were going quiet on the Indiblogger front:

  1. The operational challenges that come with running a 12 year old product. Although the principles we setup IndiBlogger on so many years ago still stand good today, the industry’s requirements have changed.
  2. A decision we made a long time ago has left us without the means to overcome the above-mentioned operational challenges. We’ve been trying to make it work over the last few years, but in the end, IndiBlogger has always been about freedom – and we’ve decided that there’s no way we can do justice to this community with one hand tied behind our backs.

He ends with the slogan of “We blog, therefore we are!” but not before putting up the heartwrenching submission that Indiblogger was basically closing shop. The automated parts of the site remains active. Anything which needed human curatorship was declared dead and buried, including the much vaunted Indirank. I noticed that the last time IndiRank was updated was way back in January 2018, when Scepticemia had the more than respectable score of 76. Here is a screen shot of the Indirank Page, in case it disappears in the future.

Scepticemia’s IndiRank January 2018

If there were any lingering hopes about the resurrection of Indiblogger, Anoop Zombie pretty much killed those in another blog post, just the very next day, clearly titled: “A fond adieu, Indiblogger”. Just two days before my birthday – thanks for the gift guys!

Indiblogger was one of the biggest (and perhaps the ONLY) blogging network for Indians, by Indians. So, its failure to thrive is more than an ominous indicator of the state of blogging as a medium of expression. I have been thinking about this for the past several months – the rage which blogging was, back in mid-2000s, when I first started tinkering with Blogspot, has not only died down, but also has metamorphosed into something rather ugly, something so bent out of shape that I barely recognise it anymore.

When I started reading and commenting on blogs – much before garnering the courage to write one myself – blogging was a pastime of passion. I remember when Dr. Kevin Pho wrote KevinMD posts himself, on a Google Blogspot site, using the Grid Focus theme. Back then it was not the mishmash hodgepodge of voices, jostline to be heard, but something that I actually looked forward to. I have not been back on KevinMD in years. Most of the blogs which I started reading, and enjoying, in my medical school days, are not only dead, but some, like Galen’s Log, have simpley disappeared, only leaving behind a depressing one liner in its wake.

Today, the blogosphere has changed in a very elemental way. Compared to the environment about a decade and half ago, when I made my first foray into public writing, blogging has become a different ball game today. Back then, blogging was a form of expression and connection. Today, the prime motivation of blogging no longer remains to share stories or expertise or knowledge or even catharsis. Today, the prime motivator of blogging is monetizing and earning. In addition, the rise of vlogging (YouTube), microblogging (Twitter) and social networking (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram), has made blogging, especially longform blogging, a rapidly dying art. Add to that the fact that the bloggers I grew up reading got busier with their lives – and moved on to bigger and better projects, than just maintaining a blog!

Is blogging as a form of medical expression dying out? I have kept asking this question time and time again. It is surprising that Scepticemia is now almost ten years old – I wrote my first blog in November 2010, as an intern in Kolkata. Since then I have completed med school, got into residency, completed that, changed two jobs, traveled around the world, got married, and am now on the verge of a third job change! I look at the waning number of blog posts and I see the neglect which many of the blogs I used to adore also reflected in mine.

That is not to say that blogging is a dead deal. Even with this changing environment, financial pressures, and changing technological space, bloggers have found ways to adapt and evolve. Twitter threads can now run into 600-700 word long narratives, strung together in sequence. WhatsApp forwards of stories and creative writing go viral everyday. Facebook posts and Instagram stories still evoke emotions and provoke revolutions all over the world. The written word has taken a beating as our shortening attention spans are better engaged through 280 character tweets or sound bites or video blogs, but it is yet to become extinct. The number of emails I still receive, referencing posts on Scepticemia from years and years ago still validates my choice in sticking to the blog.

Perhaps it is still not all over for blogging as a mode of expression… and even if it is, perhaps I should still continue writing, just for myself, just as a form of expression, just for catharsis! I have spent months being miserable over so many things, which, back in the day, I would not have hesitated to discuss on this blog – perhaps a solution would not emerge, but the worries and anxieties would not fester in me. In expressing them on my blog, I would perhaps find a solace that I needed. And so, even if the art of blogging is on the way out, I should keep writing away, hacking away at the inner worries, finding avenues of expression to come out with the wounds and worries within.

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