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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Year 2015 in review - ten years of blogging

Thomas Kraemer selfie taken in 2015 by a low quality videoconference cam

PHOTO: Thomas Kraemer selfie taken in 2015 by a low quality videoconference cam shows him wearing a traditional northwest Oregon Patagonia plaid shirt and the new glasses he bought to help improve his worsening low vision blindness related to a stroke that has also caused him some muscle paralysis, but he remains grateful to still be alive. It is uncertain which of his medical problems will worsen enough to prevent him from posting more blog pages, which he has NOT been doing for vanity, fame or profit, but he had been doing because the Google Blogger cloud application allows him to search his own notes from the nearly 2,000 blog posts he has written over ten years of blogging. He is constantly amazed by the ability of the Google search engine to find relevant things, including things he had forgotten about until a Google search of his blog rediscovers it, which is a feat that would be nearly impossible to do even with the old-fashioned and time-consuming method of doing a page by page search of paper notebooks.

When I first started blogging 10 years ago, blogs were the latest invention on the internet and there were several gay authors and opinion leaders, ranging from the conservative Andrew Sullivan to the liberal Michelangelo Signorile, who were both using the same Google Blogger cloud to author and publish their blogs as I still use today. The very prolific blogger Andrew Sullivan moved on to become one of the first paid subscription blog sites, but gave up a few years later, and Michelangelo Signorile's blog was repurposed to post only the free description of his daily paid subscriber Sirius radio show, and he has kept writing a weekly column on gay issues for a liberal website that pays him. (See Michelangelo Signorile Huffington Post Gay Voices). Also still using the Google Blogger cloud is the author and Professor Wayne R. Dynes along with a famous San Francisco AIDS activist and HIV-positive Michael Petrelis who morphed his blog from covering AIDS issues to be more toward supporting his political activity in San Francisco, where his husband provides him support for his blogging.

Other gay authors who are still writing online rarely have standalone blogs anymore, but they will still post content as part of a newspaper site, such as the Dan Savage Love column on Website, and they will maintain both Facebook and Twitter social network feeds, which are usually limited to only linking to interesting content instead of being sources of new content.

Some additional gay bloggers who are still active include the gay law Professor Arthur S. Leonard Blog at who blog posts about key gay law decisions, but his posts frequently are also printed as the regular column he writes for the N.Y. newspaper Gay City News Website.

One of the best gay blogs, which from day one insisted it was NOT a blog, is Jim Burroway's Box Turtle Bulletin Website that features a "Daily Agenda" of gay history. It can be easily read once-a-day in small chunks that will repeat, but have new content added to them each year. Jim recently discussed his pending retirement from his day job as a scientist in Tucson, because he will be 55 years old soon and his father died young. (See post by Jim Burroway, "The Daily Agenda for Monday, November 16," posted November 16, 2015) He also recently celebrated his blog's anniversary with the post , "10 YEARS AGO: Box Turtle Bulletin Goes Live: 2005," posted Nov. 16, 2015. in which he reiterated his original intention for it not to be a blog, but as a counter to the anti-gay forces common ten years ago. However, he notes, ". . . somewhere along the way, BTB became a blog. Not because I wanted it to become one, but because somehow that's just what happened." He also announced his plans "to rejuvenate the site" because, "The site's coding needs a complete overhaul," and he said, ". . .the blog's editorial direction will almost certainly change." My only request to Jim is to make sure the new site coding is done in a manner to be useable by ADA accessible browsers, like the one I use after becoming low vision blind due to a stroke. For example, I usually use his RSS feed because it gives me a simple plain-text stream that is easy to read with enlarged text sizes, however, I realize that RSS feeds are going the way of dodo birds and complicated Website designs are in demand by the fully sighted, however, through good design, I've sites provide mobile versions for small screens that can be easily used by desktop browsers with accessibility features or with assistive devices, such as for Braille readers.

The fully paid subscription model for online content has yet to catch on, as Andrew Sullivan learned the hard way, but advertiser-sponsored content on the internet has become huge, unlike ten years ago when there were few paid advertisements on the Web.

Blogs have become overshadowed by the social networking fashion led by Facebook and others. Despite desperate attempts to add social networking features to Google Blogger, most bloggers refused to spend the time required to sort through the spam of comments and social networking obligations it generated. In my case, I had a malicious attack on my blog that was done by repeatedly claiming I had objectionable content, which caused the Google blog robot manager to automatically disable all search functions for my own blog.

When I lost the ability of searching my own blog, I almost quit Blogger because I don't blog for vanity, fame or profit, but I so still blogs that I can search my own notes. I've written almost 2,000 blog posts during the last ten years and I am constantly amazed by the relevancy of the things a Google search will find on my own blog notes -- including things I had forgotten about until Google rediscovers them and refreshes my memory!

Although Google provides Bloggers the ability to share advertising revenue with them, I've never added advertising to my blog and so I wondered why Google would be willing to host my blog for free. I had a chance several years ago to ask the Google Founders why they hosted blogs for free and they said they love bloggers like me because it improves the quality of their search results, which is their profitable, bread and butter business. Blogs by individual will especially improve searches about more arcane subject matters. The Google founders have ordered their staff to keep blogs forever because one of the founders keeps finding amazing stuff in them he can't find anywhere else. Maybe I should be charging Google for all of the blog work I do! (Full disclosure: I have been profiting generously via my ownership of Google stock a.k.a. Alphabet voting shares even though I don't get any ad revenue from Blogger.)

I don't know how long I can continue blogging with my worsening blindness and paralysis, but I am grateful to be able to again, this year, post a list of my favorite links and posts from last year:

See my previous nine annual reviews of my blog posts: