Posted on September 13, 2019 Posted by John Scalzi 33 Comments
Oh, hey! Whatever is now old enough to go drinking. It probably won’t go drinking, because I don’t drink, and also the blog is not an actual person, but I admit it’s amusing to think of my blog suddenly ditching me to go out on a bender, then coming back and drunkenly slurring out what it really thinks of me. There would be a lot of things learned in the late hours of that event, I would say.
It being the 21st birthday of Whatever reminds me again that regularly-updated personal blogs are now something of a rarity these days, as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook handle what blogs do at least as well for most people, at the mere cost of your privacy and the privacy of every other single person you know. I use Twitter and Facebook myself so this isn’t really a complaint, just an acknowledgement.
I do miss the heyday of the blogosphere but I also admit that missing of it is more based on a feeling than the practical day-to-day reality of the social media era. What I went to blogs for — catching up with friends, seeing what they think about things — is what Facebook and Twitter and other social media offer, so no real loss there. The real difference is feel. For lack of a better way to express this, blogs are free-standing houses, designed by the occupant. Social media are apartment blocks, where the floor plan is exactly the same for everyone. I guess I miss going to someone’s house and wondering how this funky place even actually holds together.
I do still tell people that they should keep their own sites for when whatever social media site they use the most eventually sinks into the Internet’s graveyard, they’ll still have some place to be. The longer I do this, the more I realize this makes me sound vaguely like an Internet Prepper, waiting and perhaps hoping for an online apocalypse that likely won’t come. I don’t mean it that way, honest. Writers and creators should definitely have their own sites, with information about them and what they do, if only for search engine purposes. Everyone else, well. Do what you want, I guess. I do, which is to keep this place running. When Facebook falls, you’ll all still want something to read! I’ll be the last site standing! Bwa ha ha hah ha!
More seriously, Whatever exists today for the same reason it began existing 21 years ago, which is, I wanted a place to write about things. The formula hasn’t really wavered in all that time; I write about the things I want to write about, when I want to write about them, for whatever length I feel like writing about them for. Sometimes I’m ambitious and post several times a day; other times I’ll post once a day and sometimes skip a day or two (or more). When I’m writing a book, I tend to post less. When I’m not, I’ll post more. I don’t take requests, unless I do. And so on.
Also, you know: I write here because I just plain like this site. This is, in more ways than one, my house and a reflection of me. I like how I’ve built it over the years and I like what it does. I like I have a place to say what I want to say. I like that I have a place where others occasionally come by to visit. I like that those people seem to like it too.
So, I’ll keep at it some more. Let’s see what happens from here.
Wait. You started this blog in 98? Weren’t you still on misc.writing with me back then?
I had the same realization that, had I not let my domain registration lapse, my own domain would have hit this milestone earlier this year, too. It’s kind of a weird, melancholy nostalgia. Maybe parents (I’m not one) feel this way when their kids move out, and it’s sort of an undeniable signifier of being A Certain Age.
I definitely enjoy being able to visit your ‘free-standing house and wondering how this funky place even actually holds together.”
here’s to another 21 years.
And I’m glad you’re still at it. I come here because I know who I’ll meet here, and that there will be something amusing, perceptive, thought-provoking to read – every day. Facebook and other social media present me with the flotsam of the internet, with an occasional, infrequent, worthwhile tidbit.
For that reason I treasure, and read, several blogs that have continued for decades: each provides a unique, personal point of view on the world we live in.
The reason my site is still up (since 1997!) is that social media move too fast, and there’s no easy way to find something written last week, let alone last year. My television reviews of the first season of The X-Files are there, but my comments on The Expanse on Facebook will be gone in a week.
Happy birthday, Whatever! Is there a birthday cake burrito?
I really love the idea of twitter/facebook social media being apartments and blogs being houses. That really fits
I found out very quickly that sites like Facebook and Twitter gave me more “followers” but no one actually read anything I posted if it went beyond a sentence. It’s why I still cling to my livejournal/dreamwidth blogs. Those sites are technically “dead” but I still have wonderful conversations with people based on long-form posts (well, longer than 200 characters anyway) that I don’t get anywhere else (and believe me, I’m one of those obnoxious people that goes and crossposts everything just in case!)
Anyway, Happy Birthday Whatever!!! Are blog years the same as human years or are they like dog years?
Happy Birthday! I hope I get to read about when Whatever is eligible for it’s first $0.25 cup of McD’s coffee!
I still have my old blog from the 2000’s. Literally nobody reads it any more, but I’m fine with that because (a) I was doing it for me and my ability to find things more than others, and (b) these days, people ONLY look for you on social media for anything, and you get in trouble/doxxed/stalked/harassed there. Meanwhile, I can say whatever on my old site and nobody’s going to find it and complain about it. I’ve still got that freedom, hah.
Happy happy, Whatever. It’s been a hellofaride so far. Expect it’ll be that way going forward.
Actually there are quite a few of us that do updates to our (website) blogs because we don’t use Twitter or Instagram and only use FB for quick things. I try to write a long blog post on my silversmithing website when I finish a project, with lots of pictures; and while I am in the middle of a project and want to share some info on a technique. But I do publish a link to the blog post on FB. I have a personal website were I blog out the day job, trips and other adventures. At this point I think you get the idea.
The reason I started my own blog, about anime, was because I didn’t want to be the 32nd person on some other blog to repeat the same point. I’ll say it myself in my own blog, damn it. People can choose to read it or not. I didn’t and still don’t care. That said, I love the few comments I get.
I like this site too, and I want you to keep at it. I’ve been intermittent, but was reading here even before “bacon cat”.
It’s strange for me to feel old because I still like traditional blogs. I didn’t know what a blog was in 2003. And I use a flip-phone and an iPod, I guess that makes me great-grandpa. WTF?
I thought that when I was forty I would just be a geezer for still liking Phish.
“or when whatever social media site they use the most eventually sinks into the Internet’s graveyard” is true and sometimes painful. I lost a lot when Livejournal suddenly required users to agree to Terms in a foreign language and for which they didn’t provide a reliable translation. Most of the lost items are a pity; a few I really regret.
I also miss broad availability of long-form blogging and the understandability of threaded comments. I’m pleased that Whatever continues to live in that eco-niche and plan to visit for as long as you write it.
Happy Birthday! Great site. Keep up the good work.
I’d buy Whatever a drink. I haven’t been here all 21 years but I’ve been a regular since i found it. Hope it sticks around ;-)
Congratulations on reaching 21 years! I enjoy your blog and like seeing a new episode pop up. Your books are nice too. :)
Reminds me a bit of a car I had a few years back. It got T-boned three weeks before it would have been able to roll up to a bar and order its own sake bomb… by a (probably) drunk driver rushing to avoid a day-care lateness penalty turning left against a hard red light.
And the official celebration for Whatever is not a birthday-cake burrito. It’s obviously an extra slice of Schadenfreude Pie!
Happy Birthday Whatever!!
Happy birthday/anniversay/whatever, Whatever!
I agree it comes down to “feel.” Part of reading anything on Facebook, Twitter, etc., apart from how much I enjoy a particular post, is that site’s feel, like a slightly opaque overlay. Whatever is pure, uncut Scalzi, and after you’ve had the good stuff, the other versions just don’t suffice. Here’s to continuing Whatever as long as it makes you happy — I guarantee it’ll make us happy.
21 years. To mark that milestone, why not a blog post where your imaginary interlocutor goes on a bender and drunkenly tells you what it thinks of you? We haven’t heard from it for a while.
How things have changed. Blogs were The Next Big Thing, then they became ubiquitous, and now they’re passé. Of the handful of SFF authors whose blogs I used to follow, you’re the only one who still contributes regularly.
I’m glad you’ve kept this one going. I don’t check it all that often because you don’t write essays much these days (not a complaint, just an observation), but I still enjoy your random observations, photography (cats, sunsets, parking garages) and paeans to your wife and daughter. The Big Idea posts are a great service to the community. I also appreciate your very occasional crossposts from Twitter to Whatever about noteworthy burritos or the like. Yes, that baby seal really did tie it all together…
Happy whatever, Whatever! As long as there’s a steady stream of pictures of sunsets, pictures from tour, and pictures of the Scalzi clan (do the cats and dogs count as part of the clan, I’m not sure), I’ll be here.
First and foremost: Happy birthday!
It’s kind of funny, I follow a couple blogs, but all of them via RSS, so to me they all do look the same. (With the odd one of where I have to click through, but that’s rare among personal blogs). Nevertheless I *love* following blogs much more than following people on social media. I can read the content in whatever (heh) app on whatever device I wish, in *chronological order* (which seems to become increasingly harder on social media) and it’s privacy friendly!
So yes, I’m glad personal blogs exist, and I’m glad you’re still rocking yours!
Conga rats and happy anniversary on twenty-one cool years of Whatever —
and (one hopes) many more!
21 years? You are just a young’un. My site dates back to 95, so 24 years. It can get cheaper car insurance next year! Cheers to sticking with it for 20+ years. It’s a fairly exclusive club.
And we like it too! :)
The world is catching up – today in WaPo there’s an article on the theological implications of fake meat.
Now if we could get Der Trumpf to read the column from 9-3-2005…
Thank you for continuing. I too much prefer actual blogs to Facebook.
The main reason I still keep a blog is easy access to my own content… Things tend to get lost on sites I don’t control – the content might still be there, but it gets farther from the top and harder to find.Not to mention the constant possibility that those other sites will change ownership or direction.
Congratulations! I enjoy your blog almost as much as your books.
Happy birthday, Whatever!
I like the housing analogy for social media a great deal. Thanks for that one. And thank you for maintaining the site. I miss blogs, and am glad that at least you and one other of my favorite authors continue to use them. I follow you on the social medias but it’s just not the same thing.
I’m another person who keeps up a journal/blog on Dreamwidth (formerly on LiveJournal, but then they said they wouldn’t accept content that violates Russian law, and I talk about LGBT+ issues), partly for the conversation and partly so I can find things later. Like, did I post about the Planetary Response Team two years ago? (no) and What have I said about apple varietals? That’s definitely an internet backwater these days, alas, but I understand it in a way that I don’t understand Facebook (where rule 1 appears to be, if I figure something out they’ll change it).