Thursday, December 08, 2005

J-blogosphere Anthropologist - The Roarin' 60s

It suddenly hit me today that the roarin' 60's of the j-blogosphere passed me by. Talk about depression! If only I had started blogging earlier, I could have been privy to be part of the elite of the j-blogosphere. You know who they are; the ones with the in-jokes, the constant hyperlink pats on the back, the hidden sparkle in the eye you can feel from a comment, the myriad neural network of links between their sites. The ultimate "Friends" series of J-bloggers, 24 hours a day.

The names are all out there (in no real order of importance); Mirty, DovBear, GodolHador, Orthomom, AskShifra, Krum, Amshinover, Soccer Dad, Lamed Zayin, Gil, Biur Chametz, Mis-nagid, Little Wolf, AddeRabbi, Shanna, AirTime, Ren Reb - to name a few.

Going back into the archives of these sites, I was in shock and awe of the candor, raw energy, and total goofy fun that used to exist. Pinpointing the exact time is difficult, but the big-bang of the modern JBlogosphere was sometime in early 2005. I don't have an exact date, but then again -- I can't carbon date these blogs, and carbon dating isn't always accurate. I don't think there was a creationist timeline; On day one, the Blogger was created. Day two, the comments section, Day 3, uploadable pictures and the like. That's only a myth/mashal anyway. Was it intelligent design or evolution? Did the JBlogosphere evolve? Could it have?

Delving deeper into the archives of these sites, you can see a rebellious youthfulness in the posts, the comment wars, and the metaphorical high-fives and backslaps when something really clever or hilarious was posted. These were the roaring 60's of the Jblogosphere.

If I could be so bold as to determine a date for this end of an era, I would say it must have been circa the return of DovBear from his vacation in late July, after handing over the keys to his blog to a wonderfully eclectic group of bloggers. That was also the time the Disengagement in Israel started. It was also the time I started getting into blogging.

Could it have been me? Was my entry in the JBlogosphere the meteor that changed everything as we knew it? Where are the sparks, the zeal, the fun, the outrageous posts of that bygone era? Are we now in the shadow of the un-fun, conservative 80's of the JBlogosphere? As fun as it may look now, its only a glimmer of the original wackiness reminiscent of classic Saturday Night Live with John Belushi z'l and Dan Ackroyd.

Granted there's a new cast of characters, myself included among them, but after some serious archeological blogging, I've determined that we're only Jonny-come-latelies. We're not even a revival with Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscapo - we're not worthy! I can't imagine DovBear letting Ezzie guest blog on his site. Amshinover's absurdities have diminished. The GodolHador has come and gone, and come and gone, and has metamorphosed into something different, yet less than the original. Joe Settler is academic posts don't have the wit of Krum. Israel Perspectives wonders if he (and I) are too radical? Ask Shifra has mellowed from the wild days of discussing hot married Jewish women.

So where do we go from here? Do you think the golden age has come and gone? Is there any hope to recapture the early magic? I think everyone would agree that the fun and pizzaz has diminished. Its not as fun as it used to be. Its more serious now. Even the flame wars are devoid of passion.

Perhaps we are on the edge of a new era, which by standing on the shoulders of those veteran bloggers, with the proverbial graying hair, a new growth spurt of enthusiasm will reignite the feeling from 6 months ago. Or maybe its lost forever, as bloggers find other things to do, get blogged down in work, family, and hobbies that have more physical exercise than finger pushups on a keyboard.

If its the first, I hope I don't miss out this time.

If its the latter, I'll go back to my other hobbies and wistfully dream about what could have been, had I started blogging in February.


Mar Gavriel said...

Oh, c'mon, Jameel-- you're becoming a big-time JBlogger on your own!

(I joined the blogosphere in mid-July, and could have become a "big-time JBlogger" if my interests had been less esoteric. Or do you consider me an actual "big-time JBlogger"?)

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Mar Gavriel: Maybe big time (not really)...but definitly the wrong era.

I don't think anyone who started blogging after June 05 can possibly be considered "big time." Nothing personal, but its natural laws of the jblogging universe.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Oh yeah - If I had the time, the song most appropriate for this posting would be Billy Joel's Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway).

I don't have an MP3 player here so I couldn't really do the MEME thing.

Ze'ev said...

Whoa... Jameel... Such a thoughtful post... and nothing controversial about it!

You made me get all wistful and teary eyed... Either about being radical, or missing the boat...

You must really have a lot of time on your hands in Exile...

Also, why not add links for all the sites that you mentioned - I havent been to a few of them, and it's a post like this that would make we want ot stop by for a peek...

Lab Rab said...

Hi Jameel (first time commenter) - really interesting post.

I have a bit of a longer blogging memory than February 2005. Exactly three years ago, on December 8, 2002, four friends of mine launched a new website that aimed to dominate the entire J-blogosphere. They called it Protocols. And because they got in early, they succeeded. Protocols was hip, witty, up to date, and so very cynical. And if you weren't on the blogroll of Protocols, you didn't exist.

I found little value at the time in political debate, endless philosophizing, and loshon hora, so I kept quiet.

Exactly one year ago, Protocols folded. With it folded the notion that a successful Jewish blog must be abstract and impersonal. Coming into the blogosphere in October 2005 (essentially being dragged by Mar Gavriel), I found the highly developed social dynamics hard to follow. After three months, I think I'm beginning to figure it out.

At least 90% of the blogs you listed started after December 2004. Even the grandaddy of them all, Hirhurim, started in March 2004. You list the cutoff date as February 2005. Well, LamedZayin wasn't around back then. MOChassid, who was, has (almost completely) retired.

My point is, dor holech vedor ba. Generations come and go. Our job is to do what we do best with whomever is out there at the moment. If for you that means injecting some wackiness and frivolity into our routines, I guarantee you that you'll find J-Bloggers with whom to do it. They may or may not be the names listed above - but whoever they are, they'll become your friends.

Ezzie said...

Jameel - excellent post. I've already shared my thoughts with you, but of all the comments above, LabRab nails it: My point is, dor holech vedor ba. Generations come and go. Our job is to do what we do best with whomever is out there at the moment. If for you that means injecting some wackiness and frivolity into our routines, I guarantee you that you'll find J-Bloggers with whom to do it. They may or may not be the names listed above - but whoever they are, they'll become your friends.

Anonymous said...

ooooooooooooh. Great post. This post really hit me in the right place, considering Im Mr. Nostalgia. Though the blogs are most anonymous, I think people still feel a strong friendship, and it hurts when some blogger calls it quits. I first started blogging around the time Godol Hador first started back on Dovbears site. I think he (GH) was the main gathering place for everyone and lately, he has toned down a lot. It certainly does not feel the way it used to. For instance, I see less of Mis-nagid around and the HUGE debates that would arise.

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Yes! I slide in right under the bar of "big time" oldschool bloggers... ;-)

I can't believe i started commenting more than a year ago, and have had my own blog for more than half a year already...

But the blogger i miss the most is Adam Ragil of Baynonim. He was the man.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

LabRat: Thanks for dropping in and giving me great additional background. I'd heard of protocols before, but I don't think I ever visited it. Its obvious that dor holech, vizeh ba, just like the 60's gave birth to the disco, bell bottom jeans 70's. As a genetation X person myself, people still wax nostalgic for different generations, and while every generation has its fun, some defintily had more fun that others. The 60's for example were way different than any other generation till now. (and I missed the 60's too!)

Holy Hyrax: I hear you! I feel your pain...hmmm. Sounds like Spock or something.

Steg: I guess I'll have to make up a new graphic that only golden era bloggers can put on their site ;-)
Sort of like "Graduating Blog Class of Feb 2005."

Ezzie: When I was a kid in NCSY, I always hung out with the advisors who were my friends. Much more fun to hang with the older people -- they have lots more fun, and if they accept you as an equal, you get away with a lot more. That's how I learned to drive. My parents went away for a month when I was 16, and my friends taught me how to drive. The day my parents came home, I passed my road test. Did the entire thing under my parent's nose in 30 days. What are friends for? ;-)

Zeev: I'll find some links and put them up.

In fact, if some of you bloggers could send me some of their most notable links, it would be a great service to the newbies.

Unknown said...

Lab Rab is right. I think ppl will always assert that the golden age preceeded them. I have heard ppl say the the Golden age was summer of 04 or sometime in 03 when one or another blogger was still around.

treppenwitz said...

I started treppenwitz in late 2004 and there were a small handful of anglo-Israeli bloggers writing at the time. At the same time there were also a solid core of Jewish bloggers in the US. Most of us knew of one another but didn't really bump up against one another constantly until early 2005.

2005 saw an explosion of jbloggers and it was like the 70s when CB radios started to become omnipresent. The old-time CBers became pissed off because the airwaves were clogged with people that really had little of interest to say... and those that did have what to say were being drowned out by the babble of voices.

I think we are due for a renaissance of Jblogging in the next 6 months or so. I say this because there are a ton of people who started blogging with that big wave in 2005 that are just now discovering that a) they have nothing unique to say anymore; b) the care and feeding of a blog is a lot more work than they had bargained for; and c) the issues that they wanted to discuss when they first started blogging are no longer fresh or relevant. A small number of them will reinvent themselves or hang on with their original format... but by mid-to-late 2006 I think there will be a new golden age in the jblogosphere.

Jack Steiner said...

I hadn't really given any consideration to when the golden age was or is. To me it still really early.

I started blogging in May of 2004 and have just enjoyed watching it grown and develop and expect that it will continue to do so.

treppenwitz said...

Whoops...make that late 2003.

Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

Heh. Great post.

But to echo some of the others, it always seems more fun before you joined the party.

I also remember Protocols. THAT was really the 'back in the day' of j-blogging. Or at least it was in my perception. What about Burry Katz's blog? There are different eras, different layers. Someone in six months will think these days were the prime.

All that aside, I've noticed that there are days or weeks when things are boring and then suddenly things just explode into action again. Its happened before, it'll happen again.

Little Wolf said...

I have only had my own blog since the July Dov handover (that is what prompted it as I was guesting there). I have been commenting for quite a while longer. I think that things seem to happen in waves rather than generations. You will have people who will surge forward, then either burn out or drop off, but they will return or someone else will take their place.

I have a feeling that one of the reasons for the seeming 'receding' of the fun at the moment is just a change in how a lot of us are thinking about things right now. Sort of a general J-blog malaise that is suppressing the thinking. Maybe we all needed this post to get us thinking in a different direction. (sort of get us out of our post 'disengagement' doldrums.)

Anonymous said...

first started blogging around the time Godol Hador first started back on Dovbears site. I think he (GH) was the main gathering place for everyone and lately, he has toned down a lot.

DB was the main gathering place through the early part of this summer, but, yes, it was GH in DovBear's comment section, who contributed greatly to the success of the threads.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Thanks everyone for the comments (including the j-blogger hall of famers that dropped by).

Every generation of time still dates things in eras. OK, even if there will be great eras again, the 60's were still the 60's.

I'm upbeat about Treppenwitz's prediction of a new heyday coming soon.

I do have a recommendation; Less individual blogs...more group blogs. Makes like easier for everyone; less places to check, easier to comment (and check back for new comments).

I'd probably abandon the Muqata if I could be a group blogger elsewhere. OK, I'd keep it around for posterity, but group blogging seems like the way to go.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Blue Enclave: Incorrect. You started blogging in June.

Soccer Dad said...

If something revolutionized Jblogging it was the JIB awards last year. I didn't really hook up with many other Jewish blogs originally. I started blogging on Blogger in the summer of 2003 (I think). Previously I had been finding the best articles I could and emailing the links with my comments to 40-50 people. At some point I discovered Instapundit, The Volokh Conspiracy, LGF and Meryl Yourish and realized that I was sending out "e-mail blogs." That and encouragement from a friend to critique Thomas Friedman led me to blogging.
About 2 years ago Presence asked if I'd be interested in coming over to Baltiblogs and that's where I've been since.
But I don't think I hooked up with the J-Blogosphere seriously until the JIB awards.

PsychoToddler said...

Aside from Protocols and Adam Ragil (which I agree is sorely missed), you really need to look up the archives of MoChassid, Velvel, and Heimishtown.

And don't forget, On the Fringe's Shira Salamone is still plugging away at it!

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Zion Report; You're confused between 2 bloggers. "On the Fringe's Shira Salamone" is who psychotoddler was talking about.

I mentioned Ask Shifra, the answer person...that who the cartoon points to.

Both are worthwile blogs to read ;-)

JoeSettler said...

"Academic and lacking wit"?

You're really pushing it Jameel.

Anyway, while you may have missed the Golden Ages of blogging, I've personally had a semi-regular web log on the Internet since 2001 (under a different name, and it wasn't called blogging back then).

Quite interesting, I just noticed that you're mentioned in one of the early online posts.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Joe Settler: OK OK -- you aren't lacking wit...but you aren't a side splitter either. And academic isn't a bad thing, is it?

What do you expect - I wrote the post when I should have been sleeping, far away from my natural habitat, and didn't even send it to you for comments first.

Bless me Joe, for I have sinned.


topshadchan said...

Burry Katz was the first blog i read.
I was sorry to see him close, which led to a series of closures.

I blieve it all changed during the slifkin controversy of jan 05.

till then everyone was simply making choizek of everything.
That event made everyone get soooooo serious.

JoeSettler said...

First of all, my kid thinks I'm hilarious. I just have to make a face and he bursts out laughing. Who needs wit when you have an easy audience.

Second, just because you don’t understand my humor, doesn’t mean the wit isn’t there.

Thirdly, I’ll send you the link privately with the 2001 reference to Jameel.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Joe: Looking fwd to the link.

Easy audience? Anyone making a face to a bay gets a laugh! (Sorry to burst your bubble there).

As to your sense of humor, I guess its much more advanced than mine. Could be. Maybe if I were more academic I would understand it.

Anonymous said...

hey fellows lets shake hands and make up.-no harm no foul?

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Daat Y: Don't worry about it - Joe Settler and I have been friends for years...(like 17)

Shabbat Shalom!

JoeSettler said...

Daat Y: I met him the first time when he was trolling for girls on what at that time passed for the internet in University.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Joe: And that's the difference between my vivacious personality, and your academic dry wit!

JoeSettler said...

I think it may be more like almost 18 years now.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Joe; You had the get in the last word, didn't you?

Ha...its shabbat by you, and I can still post from LA on erev shabbat. So there.

YMedad said...

Gee, I tried to participate but after writing and writing and trying to click, I was informed that only 300 characters are allowed. I guess all by myself I'm enough of a character to be rejected. Oh, well.

YMedad said...

Seems that "friend" link sent my comment back to me so here's Part I: Define "golden". Quality? Quantity? Mulitplicity of themes or one
major one (the secret world of the ultra-Orthodox; Israeli politics;)?
Massive inter-communication or just putting our your iconoclastic
messages? Staying anonymous or letting it all hang out?

YMedad said...

and Part II: In any case, the medium is powerful (my own experience with the Mt.
Zion - Vatican is quite illustrative) and needs to be fine-tuned. A
little more coordination could help and the Hevel Hevalim positings are a
step (click?) in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

If you've never read Protocols, then you completely missed the boat on Jewish blogging. Those guys are still around. You can read them at their new blogs.

Pragmatician said...

I feel the same thing, I post something It takes weeks to see some comments appearing. They post anything (from ridiculous to magnificant)and 30-60 comments appear the next day. I admit it's probably due to the quality of their writing but it's the fame that plays a role too.

Irina Tsukerman said...

Hey, consider yourself lucky. I started blogging in MAY '04 (which would make me a dinosaur in blogging terms, lol) and totally missed those people when they came up! : ) At least you got to see the afterglow...

Erica said...

Would you believe, this is the part that really brought a smile to my face: John Belushi z'l.

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