I took a couple weeks off from Open Salon, just to make sure. Despite a rapidly deteriorating platform that seemed to portend a death spiral, I wasn’t sure I could stay away. Four years of a weekly blog is a habit that’s hard to break. But break it, I did.
My bottom line is that it’s work to write a blog that contains elements of new reporting, analysis, op-ed perspective, and finally, writing worth reading. It takes, at minimum, one good take on the news per week. And when you do it well enough, it deserves a platform that matters.
I am immensely grateful to Open Salon for nearly four years of stellar performance. As to the last six months, well…in Minnesota we say if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say [or write] anything at all.
Open Salon has had an amazing run if you measure it by the wonderful array of writers and personalities who chose to congregate here, when they could have gone anywhere. The archives on this site contain a collection of writing that can only be called an anthropological treasure. Writing as an artifact of a moment in time, a little archeological sliver, of an online community that mattered. Open Salon’s heyday coincided with the economic meltdown in such a manner that people had time on their hands and axes to grind. So they became whom they really were, or adopted avatars to let them become the bad boys and girls they always wanted to be, and that’s why cyberspace is a bit like a saloon on a strange planet from Star Wars. Dated, now, but cute just the same.
For people who care about writing, it was about the writing. For a brief moment, the short form personal essay was hipper than at any previous time in my lifetime, and really, I suspect, since the 18th Century when broadsheets were new technology. Open Salon became a platform that brought thousands of clicks, if not readers, to work that merited readers. A marriage made in digital heaven.
It is only natural that socio-literary experiments enjoy a moment in the sun and then fade like yesterday’s emoticons. It all comes down to money—adverts reaching eyeballs—in the end. If this little experiment were delivering enough bangs for the buck, we’d have servers that could withstand the harshest spam assault and curation worth noticing. So you can’t blame Salon. Not for trying.
Whether they can “fix” Open Salon or not, who can say? Stranger things have happened. All I know is that in my little personal equation of work v. reward, the equation has shifted: I need more eyeballs to make the effort worthwhile.
I mentioned in a piece several weeks ago citing four years of writing here that the work itself can get to be a grind regardless of platform issues. So I’m not here to blame a flounce on Salon for that reason as well. Rather, I’d prefer to call it a leave of absence. If I soon feel a dramatic need to blab, or if Salon makes the platform once again more enticing, then, well, who knows? Never say never. Or maybe I’ll just take a little break and try a new, robust, platform somewhere.
I have aspirations to write about climate change the way I wrote about health care reform—week after week—presenting ideas and perspectives vetted by some of the best minds in the business, as well as a few notions of my own. Now, as we face a chunk of ice as big as the United States disappearing from the Arctic, and people are still mopping up in lower Manhattan, maybe people will notice that dealing with climate change is really the imperative of the century—that nothing else matters as much for the long-term livability of this little planet; well, don’t get me started.
It’s been a good run. I deeply value the relationships engendered here. I deeply appreciate the readership, having been an avid reader here, and lots of the nonsense that occurred in between. I’ll still be a reader, if not as avid a reader as I was in our halcyon days here. And if I never again encounter the phrase “Lots of errors occurred!” that would still be too soon.
So thanks for the memories, Open Salon, and thanks to all my peers, friends, and frenemies who congregate(d) here. It’s been a good run.