After a four year run, the Carnival of the Liberals has folded its tent. On his blog, Neural Gourmet, CotL's founder Leo Lincourt writes:
Dear Liberal Carnivalers,
We’ve had a good run. 102 separate editions, over four years and two months. Edition #103 was supposed to appear yesterday but after reviewing the submissions, or lack thereof, I think it’s time to end Carnival of the Liberals.
I had hoped that changing to the monthly format, and the other changes to the structure and format of the carnival would revitalize CotL, but it wasn’t to be. On average, over 70% of the submissions to each edition now are spam and there’s no denying the apathy, both my own and on the part of carnival participants, toward CotL the last year or so.
I think a lot of it has to do with the changing face of the blogosphere, and social media obsolescing the blog carnival idea. I’ll have more to say on this topic in future days, but the capsule summary is that I think that the two main functions of blog carnivals, high quality, relevant curated content and building blogger communities, are done better and faster by the likes of Facebook, Twitter, et. al. Even I have got to admit that I very rarely read blog carnivals anymore....
As an early beneficiary of CotL where a few of my political posts were featured soon after I started blogging and as its one time host, I feel that the closing of the carnival is somewhat akin to the end of a chapter in A.B.'s blogging life. Although I have announced most editions of the carnival on A.B. through the years, I must confess that of late I hadn't been reading the submissions on a regular basis. So, I can't honestly say that I am terribly sad to see CotL go but I take it as a portent of things to come for smaller political blogs, particularly those with a liberal slant.
Closer to home, our rate of blogging on Accidental Blogger is down. Many of our authors have not made an appearance here for several months. My own blogging schedule is sporadic at best, unlike the fast and furious pace of just a year ago. While the big liberal blogs continue to refresh their sites regularly and their traffic remains high, several smaller blogs like ours are beginning to see apathy on the part of both readers and the writers. Some liberal bloggers with serious journalistic aspirations have moved on to big and small organized news media outlets and often maintain their original blogs as archives. Many other popular liberal blogs where politics was an adjunct to academic and professional matters, have increasingly reverted to their original intent and character. Many smaller liberal blogs have closed shop altogether or are not posting with the enthusiasm they exhibited some years ago. The phenomenon of blogging is relatively new. Blogs on the left side of the political spectrum began sprouting in small numbers after the Iraq war was launched and a veritable explosion of such sites, ours included, occurred soon after Bush-Cheney's re-election in 2004.
The slump in liberal blogging is not a surprise. Clearly it has much to do with the change in the political scene in 2008 when Democrats regained the White House and achieved majorities in both the US House and Senate after eight years of Bush-Cheney and a GOP dominated congress. Liberals probably have lost the anger that fueled their blogging energies. With their own side in power they are a bit less focused on governmental malfeasance and are therefore blogging less, even if they don't agree with everything that their elected leaders are doing. I wonder if by the same logic, blogging is experiencing an up-tick on the conservative side because of the right wing's irrational anger at Obama-Pelosi-Reid. On the other hand, may be the angry right doesn't believe in a wussy mode of protest like blogging and its members are spending their energies organizing Tea Parties and armed militias.
Also, Leo Lincourt may be on to something when he speculates that Internet social sites may have cut into the domain previously dominated by blogging. I know that I myself find it far easier to put up a link on my Facebook page than compose a more thoughtful and lengthy piece on the blog. I have also noticed that when I link my blog posts on Facebook, many of my "friends" will read the the post here and then go back and comment on the FB link rather than on the original blog post. I wonder if people are more comfortable at the social forum than on the blog where they may feel that a bit more formality is required in commenting. And oh, I found Leo's announcement of the CotL closing on his Facebook page, followed the link to his blog post and came back and commented on Facebook!
(Note: Although he's not a liberal, my long time blogging friend Razib has left the Science Blogs and moved to Discover Magazine. His blog Gene Expression can be now be found here. The URL of his site on our blog roll has been changed accordingly)