by Frank Schnittger
Sun May 5th, 2019 at 07:38:23 PM EST
Martin Longman has decided to turn his community blogging site (Booman.com) into a commercial subscription site as a vehicle for his own writings and political ambitions. Comments will still be possible but even paying subscribers will no longer be able to publish their own diaries. Renamed Progress Pond, it looks much more up to date, but then again it looks very much like most other political and news sites on the web.
From a personal point of view it is a tragedy because I used to cross-post most of my diaries there, and often got as much of a response to them there as I do here. It helped me to keep in touch with a distinct US blogging community, and I liked to think I helped to keep them in touch with European affairs as well. With Trump at the helm the US is growing ever more distant from European sensibilities, and it doesn't help if blogging communities lose touch with each other as well.
Martin is, of course, perfectly entitled to do whatever he wants with his site. He has laboured long and hard over it and had to survive on the goodwill and donations of his user base. In more recent times he has also gotten a job as online Editor of the Washington Monthly, and undoubtedly doesn't have as much time to devote to a mainly voluntary effort any more.
While Booman.com used to have other front page contributors as well, these have gradually faded away and Martin was left - or chose - to plough a lone furrow. He has become a very knowledgeable observer of the US political scene and of "inside the beltway" Washington politics in particular. US political nerds will undoubtedly keep him on their list of favourites or bookmarked sites, but those looking for a broader coverage of topics or more diverse perspectives will have to look elsewhere. There are only so many topics one writer can cover, and only so many articles he can produce.
Blogging as a voluntary community based activity seems to be dying a death everywhere, replaced by social media "influencers" on Facebook and Instagram, and by photographs, videos, graphics, and snappy one liners rather than 1,000 word articles followed by a vibrant debate where you can interact directly with the author if you choose. Everywhere everyone seems to be trying to monetise online discourse somehow, whether by advertising or subscription based models. Hell I can't even play Spider Solitaire any more without Microsoft force-feeding me imbecilic ads.
Participation rates at the European Tribune have also struggled in recent times, and I don't know how much longer we can survive in our current form. I don't want to have to start my own one person blog, because it is the interaction with others here that I value the most. Somehow I can't help but feel I am a practitioner of a dying art, and that soon we will all be caught up in a maelstrom of corporately sponsored news, oligarch mouth pieces, and state sponsored dis-information programmes. You can't even trust the BBC any more.
So many thanks to all of you who help to keep this place going. To our few remaining front pagers who keep an ageing technology functional, the spammers away, the newsroom flowing, and the chatrooms abuzz. My thanks also to all of you who lurk, comment, recommend, and occasionally contribute your own diaries. We may not always agree, but your good faith contributions are always welcome. Lets see if we can survive for another year...