Posted 6 November 2008 by Robert Peake.

“I rhyme / To see myself, to set the darkness echoing.”

-Seamus Heaney, “Personal Helicon”

PhoenixWired Magazine‘s Paul Boutin recently declared personal blogging dead. Soon after, The Atlantic‘s Andrew Sullivan extolled the endurance of blogging’s “human brand” in a postmodern world of words. Me? I just keep writing. But why?

In “Personal Helicon” Seamus Heaney rhapsodizes on his boyhood love of wells, then concludes that writing poetry has become a sublimation of this love of the messy, muddy darkness no longer accepted in adulthood. I, too, write–both poems and blog posts–to create reflection in the dark, and to delight in the mess.

I did not start as a poetry blogger, but rather converted my existing site from a static collection of all-about-me pages into the chronological format of a blog. I did so around the time I became a freelance technology writer and consultant. It became a great outlet for me to float my nascent technical ideas before a global audience, and I soon found my blog posts widely re-syndicated.

This was during the heyday of personal blogging. Boutin now sees this golden age as having been pulled apart by two forces: the major news sources catching on, and dominating the market, and social networking sites like Facebook providing an alternative outlet for those seeking self-expression and a social community of peers online.

But my blog isn’t about monetizing my writing. Otherwise, I would still be mostly writing about technology. And, although I joined Facebook some time ago, social networking messages and status updates have by no means supplanted my writing here.

I never set out to write about poetry, or about grief for that matter. But by following the thread of my thoughts through the thread of my life, I seem to have touched upon a wide range of subjects, and to have built new thoughts upon past ruminations. In doing so, I feel I have also actually begun to build up a greater understanding of my self, and of how best to share that self with others. Far beyond “self-expression,” blogging for me represents a means to see myself in Heaney’s well, to gaze down through layers of history, into the dark.

For those who are afraid of the dark, perhaps it is true that many of the rewards of blogging’s prime have withered, and with it a certain breed of personal blogging has died. For the rest of us, I say: personal blogging is dead; long live personal blogging!