I started this blog seventeen years about today, and according to my usual habit I’m writing an annual blog post about its past, present, and future.
In May of this year (I think?) I took a social media sabbatical to focus on other things. There are complex reasons for this… mostly having to do with the fact that I had a a lot of other things to focus on. It has been a fantastic experience, and I recommend that everyone do it. It is amazing how much of social media doesn’t matter when you are committed to it not mattering, and how much deeper your knowledge of current events can be when you spend your time diving deeper.
In 2018 I left Anthrodendum, the reincarnation of Savage Minds, a blog I’d been working on for over a decade. This has also been fantastic. Instead of producing a thousand words a week for the blog I’ve produced thousands of words of articles, book manuscript, book review, and journal special issues. I’ve spent more time with my family. And I’ve had a chance to experiment with new forms like my history of anthropology timeline and my Tumblr, Highly Accurate Pictures of Anthropologists. I’ve also spent a lot of time on service, which has not been that much fun. But it has been a learning experience. And even if only a handful of people read the 10K+ words of peer review I’ve written in 2018, I am still a stronger writer and thinker for writing them. At least… I hope so!
My goal at this point is to use my personal blog as a personal blog, for whatever thoughts I may have. But I’d like them to be less important to people than SM or Anthrodendum, which some people take very seriously. I’d also like to shift from writing general interest pieces to pieces more focused on what I now describe as my interests: political anthropology, anthropology of the Pacific, history of anthropology, and Porgera. I’d like to have the freedom to write for more than one forum, instead of feeling that I constantly need to keep SM/anthrodendum updated. In general, I just want some room to manoeuvre, instead of being locked into a single configuration.
I’m also going to start following Twitter again, but I’d like to keep a lower profile there. I think Twitter is great for discovery, amplifying a message, and surfacing expertise. But I don’t think it’s a great platform for engagement, and while I enjoy the economy of cramming your thoughts into a byte (or two bytes) of text, it’s not really my speed. I also think a lot of people now feel that there are downsides with the speed of social media, and now after some years people are interested in longer, slower, engagements. It may be that the tempo of blogging is coming into fashion again. At this rate the blog will be out of fashion in 2025, and back in in 2032. At that point I will have been — god willing! — blogging for thirty one years!
I think a lot about Fernand Braudel’s image of history as an ocean: Braudel was not interested in the froth and turbulence on the surface, which he associated with great man, palace intrigue, military campaign history. He was interested in the deeper movements of the ocean, which in this analogy were the ‘structures of the long durée’: the geography and enduring cultural themes which were the base on top of which the historical wave was built.
I am not — and never really was — that interested in the froth on the top of the wave which is social media and twitter. I find it exhausting to keep up with. I recognise it’s important, and a lot of people with excellent taste love it, and I appreciate and respect their position. If y’all want to do that, go for it! But I’d like to run at a slower, more Braudellian tempo. Maybe no tthe longue durée, but more of a focus on the middle of the conversation. At least, that’s the plan.
Anyway, I have more to say, but maybe it is time to call it for this evening and move on to some of my other projects. Hopefully I will be writing more here in the future. And if anyone enjoys or benefits from reading it then maybe my eighteenth year of blogging will benefit more than just me.