In 14 days this blog will be 10 years old. On February 19th I shall re-publish my very first post. It introduces me as jobbing teacher and new second-time-round father and wonders out loud why I've decided to start a weblog. On February 19th 2003 I had no notion as to where it might go and who might read it, nor could I have anticipated that through it I might form some firm and enduring friendships in real space and time. And nor could I have predicted that maintaining a blog would provide the dynamic stimulus that I needed for the prose and poetry writing that had been part of my life since childhood.
Dick Jones’ Patteran Pages began with tentative diary posts, painstakingly navigated through the primitive, clunky Salon Blogging technology. Within a few months I was managing to upload graphics and after a few months more audio and video files as well. The posts had evolved into a hotchpotch of expanded accounts of family life, political harangues, cultural rants and comic excursions, punctuated by poems in various drafts.
Most of the closest and most durable of my blogging relationships grew out of those first two years. Over time I’ve met up with some 10 or 12 of these long-term friends; five of us rendezvous in London regularly. With a handful of others the relationship has been confined to ‘ethereal’ contact, distance, time and finance applying the practical constraints whilst in no way diminishing the quality or authenticity of the friendship.
The blogroll that I have built up during my 10 years of blogging is substantial and at one time I was in regular interaction with the majority of the bloggers on it. I could reduce it now by at least 75% if I were to retain only those with whom I have anything like consistent contact. With many on it I have had no dialogue in several months; with some it’s been a year or more since we exchanged comments; some have ceased operation or actually shut down.
As to the once flourishing blog itself, it’s now largely a billboard for my poetry. I have made a few attempts to revive the old combination of thematic elements. But with so many of the old contacts departed or on the quiet side, the lack of interaction that made the process so worthwhile means that effort is somewhat out of kilter with outcome.
On February 19th I’ll decide whether to try to restore something of the old character and function of the blog or whether to accept that a combination of major changes in the general culture and demographic of blogging and my own consequent ennui have made the Patteran Pages redundant. In that event, I’ll either trim the blogroll, simplify the format and then continue to use it as a forum for emergent poems or abandon it altogether and set up a custom-built poetry blog. With the bulk of my respondents coming now from poetry prompt sites, one of these revised structures would probably make most sense.
Whatever seems to be the best course, I have enjoyed this past decade enormously. I’m proud to have been an early settler in what was in 2003 a largely unexplored blogosphere. And I’m pleased and privileged to have shared the changing times with so many good pals, past and present.