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What Do I Know About Blogging, Really?

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This scene might bring back memories for those of you who've been here before. It's the road into Þingvellir, with the lake appearing as a thin sliver of blue just under the distant mountains on the right side of the photo. It was a very picturesque day! 

A few days after this photo was taken, I found myself at Súfistinn café in the Mál og Menning bookstore being interviewed by a Finnish university student for her thesis on travel blog culture. She found me via Bloglovin' which I'd kind of forgotten about, but which seems to have kept up with the times with a clean new look and streamlined interface. Annika asked
some interesting questions, and I found myself digging deep into the way blog culture has changed over and again in the past 17 years. 

I started my first blog in 2001, two years after Blogger launched. Since then, what a blog is has changed: it's gone from being a wordy, clunky, public diary (which you had to learn html to make any changes to), to being seen as a lame 'old-people's' social club when MySpaceTwitter, and the rest arrived, and then to hard-hitting journalistic platform and savvy media outlet to, finally, being the oversaturated, hack-written, SEO'd marketing machine it is today (I worked as a hack writer for an SEO builder, and was paid pennies to churn out 600-800 word articles with 24-hour turnaround, given only a title and mood to start with. Here and here are two pieces I wrote that were accredited to other people - without my prior knowledge - by the now-defunct company that hired my fingers to type.)

I told Annika, with all due respect to readers who're also still blogging old-timey-style (you know who you are;) that I felt like a dinosaur. And I'm actually ok with that. 

She asked me if I felt that I'd influenced people with this project of mine, and I had to honestly answer yes. I told her about the comments and emails I've gotten from around the world, thanking me for sharing my Iceland,* and how I've been able to answer peoples' questions and even meet some readers for coffee or beer when they've come here to visit. I told her that even though the Reykjavík Museum of Photography (Ljósmyndasafn Reykjavíkur) doesn't consider my photos to be old enough to be promoted by them formally, I do feel like I've kept a visual diary of the city and all the changes its undergone in this crazy last decade that future generations may be thankful for (my friend Ari  - who's been a guest photographer here - at Fótógrafí on Skólavörðurstígur has also done a lot of great work in this area.)

She also noted that a lot of the blogs she got links for were defunct, and I told her that it's been interesting seeing people start blogs, hit the ground running, get a lot of attention, then lose interest or even lose faith in the whole hyper-public social media circus, and all the spam and junk and spew that can go along with it. I don't get a lot of comments given how many readers I have, but I'm very relieved that I haven't gotten lame haters here, or too much comment spam. My blog, has, however, been stolen and republished, without attribution, on at least two click-bait sites. As in, my whole blog...all 700+ posts as far as I can see. Sigh. 

Annika was also curious to know if I'd ever profited from Iceland Eyes, or had ever gotten advertisers. I've of course profited immensely in knowledge-gained and the international contacts (actually, friends!) I've made, and have gotten a few paying research and translation projects to boot through it, but nothing more. This way I'm óháð, or non-beholden to anyone. I've never gotten free goodies or any kickbacks for mentioning or linking to businesses or persons like some of these tumblr teens get  (crazy good article on that slice of the internet that you, being over 25, have no clue about. At all.) It made me wonder though about press passes and the like, and if I shouldn't just start aiming at formal journalism. Something to consider.

She had also intended to interview Auður of I Heart Reykjavík, whom I've never met, but am totally impressed by. Her site is super cute (great font!) and informative, she offers popular walking tours of the city, and she's a master at social media, with a friendly, inviting tone across all the major s.m. platforms. Well done, Auður!  

Meeting Annika, then, was another great bonus for having spent a little over 30% of my life blogging for the (mostly unknown) masses. So here at Iceland Eyes, we'll just keep moving forward into the rainbow-filled future, grateful, one day, one post at a time : )

* Seen through my eyes, hence the name...though I get confused with being an optometrist, or people want to automatically say Icelandic Eyes, so I've thought for years about changing the name. Also, the body parts reference...eyeballs...maybe not so appealing. Alva's Iceland, instead? Maybe. And a move to Wordpress? I'm tempted! More on that later. 


Professor Batty said...

Sometimes, reading your posts is like reading my mind. I still wrestle with the idea of a blog, my personal life (except for trips to Iceland) is usually pretty mundane, I try to make up for it by covering little known things (not the best way to get a big following!) I've tried most of the alternatives to blogging and found them awkward, limiting or irritating so I've stuck with Blogspot, although lately Google has been trying to get me to "optimize" it for mobile, which strikes me as a step backwards. One thing I am concerned about is the changes that Google makes from time time to its search algorithms—when most searches return 'sponsored placements', I can see the writing on the wall.

You touch on so many things in this post that have a personal resonance with me:Súfistinn café, and Ljósmyndasafn Reykjavíkur and, of course, you and Auður, both great influences, going back all the way to 2004.

I also get Bloglovin' referrals from time to time, I appreciate them, but wonder how it stays in business.

I've always liked the symmetry of the name Ice-land-"Ice", elegant and brilliant.

One problem with blogging is that people who have never been seriously engaged with it have a hard time understanding its appeal. It isn't like television—the reader has to make an investment, its more akin to reading a novel.

As one dinosaur to another, I hope we don’t become extinct!

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

I have been following Iceland Eyes for years and, as one "dinosaur" to another, thank you!

Iceland Eyes said...

Professor, the 'Ice' - 'Eyes' connection never occurred to me, except for the onomatopoeia! Haha, you learn something new every day : )

And to both you and Jennifer...dinosaurs it is, then. And proud of it!

Auður said...

Thank you for the nice words :) I threw out my back and couldn't move that day I was supposed to meet Annika (which was ironic because I was in the middle of moving house) :)

Blogs are awesome by the way, one blogger to another :)