13 Years of Whatever

It’s that time of year again; namely, the anniversary Whatever’s founding, on this day, September 13, 1998. Which means that today it is a teenager, a couple months older than my daughter. And, given the nature of the commenters here, rather more likely to talk back and give me attitude than she is. There are days I’m rather ambivalent about that fact, although today is not one of them.

September 13 is often a day that I am introspective the writing world and my place in it, and this year is no exception to that. Someone yesterday on Twitter congratulated me on this site being the place Google takes you when you type “Whatever” into the search bar. I don’t know how much credit I can take for that; a lot of that is just calling the blog the same thing for thirteen years and writing on it on a daily basis. On the other hand, I’m not going to be artificially coy about it either; thirteen years of doing what I’m doing has given me a pretty big footprint, which has been pretty useful for me and for what I’d like to do. I’m acutely aware how much I owe to this blog.

I do wonder how long it will last — there is some indication that the “blog moment,” as it were, has passed, and people have moved on to Facebook and Google+ and Twitter and whatever comes after those things. I don’t especially have a problem with this; I’m on all of those services and use them (although I like some more than others), and have a reasonably large footprint on them, too. But this is my home online; I’m naturally partial to it. To some extent “how long will it last” is a null question — Whatever will exist however long I choose to write it. But I also write to be read, so if everyone went away, the question would become, what then. I suppose I’ll worry about it then.

(Ironically, looking at the stats, the largest impediment to the growth of the blog is how much travel I’m doing — viewership here took a dip in May, when I was touring, and goes down when I’m off doing off-line things. Reasonable enough, since I’m not posting, or posting much less, during those times. This will be incentive, I suppose, for me to stock up on canned entries when I’m off to Germany next month.)

I’m still having fun writing here, which is ultimately the thing that matters. I like coming to the computer and blathering; I like reading the comments and commenting myself. I’m glad Whatever has become a useful place for other authors to talk about their work through the Big Idea pieces, and that it gives me an opportunity to talk about things I want to talk about, to people other than my pets. So I plan to keep doing it. We’ll see what happens in the next year. Check this space next September 13 for an update.

Also: Thanks for reading, and commenting, and being part of all of this. (Most of) You are part of why this is still fun for me.

45 Comments on “13 Years of Whatever”

  1. Congratulations and thank you. I always find something interesting, entertaining, insightful and informative to read here (sometimes all in one post!).

  2. Congratulations on the anniversary. Perhaps the “blog moment” has passed in that blogs in general aren’t as popular as they have been, but I think individual blogs, when they serve the authors’ and readers’ purposes can still be strong. There are those that use G+ and Facebook like a blog, but they don’t have the same feel. Sure. Maybe things will shift more, and I do enjoy following you on Twitter and G+ but I think Whatever’s still the best place to do whatever it is you do here.

  3. I’m not much into science fiction or fantasy, but I get your feed and check them all out. There’s enough here to interest anyone. Congratulations and good luck.

  4. Thanks for doing what you do, sir, and for doing it well. The daily dose of Whatever is one of the highlights of my day!

  5. Gratz on the thirteen years of whatever!

    I do have to admit the only reason I started to read your books (and subsequently suggested them to my sci-fie loving dad) is because your blog’s so interesting written.

  6. I’ve been reading since ~ 2004 when I stumbled on the “two rings” entry from another blog. I check in regularly and have forwarded the “I hate your politics” entry many times. I’ve never commented though. Congrats John!

  7. I think the popularity of writing blogs is dying down, but not the popularity of reading them.

    That is, those who used blogs to share pictures and links are moving on to the social networks to share the pictures and links there. However, those who like to share some commentary on the world around them still generally feel more comfortable with blogging software. Especially if they tend to be wordy. So there are less bloggers, but the quality is up. (Measuring quality by the quantity of original content, as opposed to the quality of the content itself.)

    The social networks are going to need to remove the length restrictions they currently have on content if they are going to compete with the blogging software. Twitter – 140 characters. Facebook – 420 characters.

    Those who like to read the commentary have no problem reading the blogs through their RSS reader of choice.

  8. Wow, so for 2/3 of your writing life as a pro you’ve also blogged. That’s very cool.

    Oh and as far as blogging’s moment having passed… yes, for many people it has. For the people who mostly want to post what they did on the weekend or share pics of the kids or interesting links they’ve found, Facebook, G+ and Twitter are better venues. But for writing and starting a discussion? Nah, blogs are still the way. IN any event, I’m still having fun writing here, which is ultimately the thing that matters. is the key point. IF the blog starts becoming a chore day in and day out, take a break. Stop. I’d miss the place, but survive. I think.

  9. As a Northern KY resident, I was questioned on the Creation Museum. I sent my favorite professor links to your experience. The professor, who does not normally encourage familiarity with students, sent me this email: “Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU. You have made today a worthwhile contribution to the joy of life.”

    All I did was share. Your blog was the worthwhile contribution to the joy of life. THANK YOU.

  10. I believe it was the creators of Penny Arcade that blamed their success on updating three times a week, rain or shine. I suspect it is nearly impossible to hold someone’s attention on the ‘net unless they get constant stimulation, attention spans being what they are.

    As a relatively new reader of your blog (I only read Old Man’s War just this past year), I must say that yours is a cut above almost everyone out there. Quite a bit of that is likely due to the fact you are a professional author, but it is also your personally and general blogger charisma.

    Blogging may be trending downward as a “thing,” but I suspect the good ones like yours will do just fine as long as you are willing to keep writing regularly.

  11. Also: Thanks for reading, and commenting, and being part of all of this. (Most of) You are part of why this is still fun for me.

    Do we need a scalzi like/dislike score for posters? You know, so that we would know if we should just go away?
    Because god help us if you stop blogging. Where would we go?

  12. I love the Whatever, John. I’m glad you enjoy writing it and that you plan to continue doing it. I imagine I’ll keep reading it until you do.

  13. Congratulations. I too look forward to your new entries and would be immeasurably saddened should you choose to stop writing here. I hope you keep on having fun!

  14. This month is also the anniversary of my site (my 15th year) and I’ve been hearing rumblings that blogs are “over” or “passed” and I don’t really get it. Blogs are a place for writing, and if writing won’t be “over” then blogs won’t be. This blog will only be over if you personally don’t want to do it anymore, regardless of how many people are on FB or Twitter or Google+. Those are different kinds of sites for different purposes.

  15. I like coming here for the same reasons I like reading Making Light: The articles are smart, funny and informative, and satisfyingly silly at times. But more importantly, Whatever attracts some pretty funny, smart and witty people as well and I enjoy reading the comments.

  16. Thank you for taking the time to make Whatever such a great destination. I enjoy your writing here, on Twitter and your books. I also agree with what others have said about blogs that are well-written and have something to say are the blogs that will stay around as long as their authors continue to share with their readers.

  17. I’ve been happily reading your blog via the RSS feed for a few years now. I love using Google Reader, as I used to have a huge list of bookmarked sites that I rarely got around to checking (only to find there weren’t any updates since the last time). Now, I’ve got the wonders of a single location to check that only shows new stuff. Yay!

    I do wonder, however, if blog authors are able to get an accurate count of the folks who read them via online feed aggregators, such as Google Reader.

  18. Having only just recently found your home ont eh Internets I am somewhat dissappointed that I didn’t find it sooner. As tempted as I am to plug through the whole backlog, like I did with Penny Arcade, I’m not sure I really ahve the time. But I do greatly enjoy your links to past posts such as the Star Wars one and the one about Sam’s sex.

    Blogs as a whole may be dying, but anything that is quality will tend to last. So here’s to another 13 years on the 13th!

  19. Many thanks and congrats on the quality of community you have created here – kept in line with that dread mallet of yours – and allowed to grow and evolve into a place where all of us can stop by every day and feel ourselves a part of something interesting and collaborative and fair and safe and sometimes utterly hillarious. Whatever really inspires me, from the big ideas to the occasional spot-on rants; you’ve truly done something special in the last 13 years! Thanks again!

  20. congratulations!

    I think blogs are metaphorically related to a home built by the blogger where he or she ssort of has an ongoing open door party.

    facebook is more like a billboard built and maintained by some third party. It could also be compared to the old ‘party line’ system on phones where everyonne is on a shared line and can talk. or again, it is somewhat like ham radio people talking over some ‘public’ frequencies.

    the difference in design is who controls the party. blog owners are like house owners and control what behavior is avlcceptable under their ‘roof’. people on facebook can do whatever facebook will let them as long as they meet facebook rules for registration (must be a certain age, use true names, etc).

    this difference in design seems to affect how the channel is used. blogs tend to be more one-way broadcast channels. social networks seem to be more bidirectional.

    I dont think blogging has ‘passed’. I think people who were originally looking for two-way comunication topology started blogging because that was all that was available. now that there are social networking sites, those people realize they were looking for a way to share pictures with their immediate friends and they werent looking for a one-way, top-down topology, but really wanted a two-way, peer-to-peer, channel.

  21. I generally read blogs religiously for a few months and then lose interest and stop. I have been visiting here for 3 years and I never have stopped. I have probably read almost every post in that period of time. You offer the perfect blend of things. You write about your life, your views on politics, current events and the internet. I get to discover new books I might enjoy. I often get tips on writing. But mostly, you invite us to know at least some part of you and so I think leaving you would feel more personal. More like losing a virtual friend, or a pen pal.

    I understand why many bloggers don’t include too much in the way of personal interaction or revelation. But I think its the main reason you have such loyal and civilized readers.

  22. My two cents: Whatver is a nice, solid, old school blog which is a welcome respite from the off the cuff, truncated rat-a-tat-tat verbiage that comes from the other social media mentioned. Also, I can read this blog without obligation. I don’t need to Like it, or add it as a friend, and it’s not cloaked behind an invitation, or requires member sign in (FSM, save me from another log in and password!). I simply click on my toolbar bookmark, or the RSS feed link, and read what you have to say. It doesn’t get more pure than that.

  23. Consistant not just in regularity of the posts but also the quality. I actually wrote this comment a few months ago, and am only posting it now ;) Maybe your german translator can just put up old Whatever posts in German for when you are in Germany. Thanks for so much whatever.

  24. Congrats on thirteen years. And on the daughter thing: she’s only thirteen. Just wait for high school.

  25. Thank you and congratulations. Woot for the Bradford Public Library. Wouldn’t it be cool if you end up buying dinner?!?!

  26. Congratulations on 13 years John. I enjoy coming here everyday to see what you have for us. I also enjoy seeing so many people’s perspectives on the varied subjects. So here’s to many more years.

  27. I love Whatever and it’s the only blog I recommend frequently to many I know. Alas, my financial situation doesn’t allow me to bid on your library fundraiser but my husband and I support our local public library and will be sure to find some way to give to them instead this month.

  28. Congratulations. Please keep on writing Whatever, it is my favourite blog. Thank you for writing the blog, for your book recommendations, and for your own books, which my wife and I have read with pleasure.
    We also like to read your occasional comments on political matters. They show us Germans/Europeans that reason is still alive in the US. Sometimes, we just don’t get these tea party folks and all the other strange people.

  29. Congrats, John, and hopefully many more years to come.

    ” …. thirteen years of doing what I’m doing has given me a pretty big footprint, which has been pretty useful for me and for what I’d like to do. I’m acutely aware how much I owe to this blog.”

    Good point. I myself first found you via “Your Hate Mail …” from Amazon, for which the reviews and description sounded fascinating, and that in turn steered me here. And then it was inevitable I’d want to see your books, so I’ve since picked up (and greatly enjoyed) a lot of your earlier stuff, like the full OMW series, “Agent to the Stars”, and “Android’s Dream”. Oh, and that’s not even counting a couple of the Uncle John’s ones.

  30. *raises glass*

    Thank you for sharing part of your world and enriching ours. I hope to still be reading Whatever when it graduates from its teens – or better still, when it will qualify [based on age] for lower rates on insurance.

  31. Your blog is the first Internet page I check and I love the variety of the posts. My favourites are the humourous and photographic ones but as a Brit, the politics ones are intriguing. I too hope it continues for many more years. Thanks and congratulations!

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