I’m speaking about Okie Funk, Blue Oklahoma and blogging today in the classroom of Dr. Terry Clark, a friend, a fellow blogger (Coffee With Clark), an accomplished visual artist and a popular and highly-regarded journalism professor at the University of Central Oklahoma.
Terry and I both teach courses on blogging at UCO, and we have both worked as Oklahoma journalists in various capacities and continue to do so, though, obviously, our full-time positions as professors take precedence in our working lives.
I have spoken to Terry’s blogging class each of the last three years, and it always makes me take stock of what I’m doing these days in the blogging world and just how blogging and other electronic media have impacted the mainstream media and our culture.
Okie Funk, started in May 2004, goes on, perhaps a little battered and bruised these days because of ongoing platform issues, but it survives in a world that now has an estimated 181,000,000 blogs, and that number is growing. Read this next sentence in your favorite, old-guy cranky voice: Well, I remember back in the day when there were only 2.4 million blogs or so tracked by Technorati. I really do, and my blog was one of them.
I keep Okie Funk going for several reasons: (1) Oklahoma still has a deep need for liberal-oriented blogs, political or otherwise, to help level the information playing field in an extremely conservative state with an extremely conservative corporate media establishment. (2) Although Okie Funk hits are down from a high mark in 2008, some posts on occasion continue to receive thousands of hits on any given day, which indicates there’s still interest in local, liberal political commentary. (3) Okie Funk serves the function of helping on a small level to maintain a progressive history of Oklahoma politics, boring to a lot of people, true, but nonetheless relevant for people searching for such information. (4) Democracy is dependent on a vibrant media, and blogs, in general and with all their flaws, contribute to that ideal. Those are just some reasons. There are more.
All that doesn’t mean I won’t eventually run out of time and energy to continue. Life happens.
As many of my regular readers know, I have never accepted any advertising for Okie Funk despite many offers through the years because my intent has always been to remain fiercely independent. (I consider myself a liberal, but I have angered both conservatives and liberals through the years.) I don’t write Okie Funk for money obviously, and contrary to what some people may think, I don’t do it out of narcissistic love for my own writing or opinions. It’s not so much a labor of love as a labor for giving a voice to the less powerful in our culture and speaking up so it might make it easier for other people to speak up. I’ve never asked for donations (though I leave that option open) because that, too, could lead to unwanted influence and, besides, I can afford the hosting fees. There remains a stark need for independent voices in our culture, voices not shaped by moneyed interests.
As for the platform issues, well, Okie Funk is literally a historical lesson in The Blog. It was started on an obscure open-source platform, then came Blogger, then came the open-source b2evolution and then came the platform Drupal as opposed to WordPress, which was probably a mistake. Maybe Blogger was the right choice all along. For now, that eight-year migration process has constricted my site, and I had to recently prohibit comments because of major spam issues. I hope to resolve that issue soon, but most of my comments have shifted to Facebook, anyway, and so my next move will probably be another major platform shift. Speaking of Facebook . . . no, that’s another post altogether.
And, yes, all this is internal and boring at some level, even to me. The real issue with Okie Funk right now is to just keep it going, at least until its tenth-year anniversary, and that’s only about a year and a half away.
(Blue Oklahoma, a community blog, was started in 2006, and I cross post Okie Funk on it.)
As far as the larger issue of the blogosphere goes, I continue to believe that digital media will eventually replace traditional media platforms. (Note the word “platforms.”) This is already happening, for better and worse, but there will still remain a strong need for talented writers and reporters, who must write and work in remarkably different ways than, say, 10 or 15 years ago. As the traditional media continues to contract, the non-traditional media will find its niches and opportunities. I’m not one of those people who lament the supposed death of the mainstream media, which has only itself to blame for its insular and archaic creative and business practices. I also believe that pay walls limiting access on the web will only make independent, digital media flourish faster.
I appreciate all of you who follow this blog and/or have encouraged me through the years. I simply wouldn’t have kept Okie Funk going without your interest and support.