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Random, Incessant Barking

     by Stephen Morris

It's a Jungle Out There

Two dogs, sitting on a sidewalk. One dog turns to the other and says "I used to have my own blog, but now I've gone back to random, incessant barking."

For the Luddites among us (a Luddite is someone who intentionally eschews technology) a "blog" is a contraction of "web log." It's like a diary that is maintained online with entries, or "posts" that are put up chronologically. Since everything is digital, you can post pictures, videos, or just words. Websites that host blogs, such as Blog Spot or Blogger are free and make it so easy to create a blog that even a college-educated adult can manage it.

Thus, everyone is blogging these days. Everyone and his brother, that is, including Tom, Dick, and Harry and all their second and third cousins and all the huddled masses of China and India. The numbers are (pick one)... impressive, stupefying, ridiculous, embarrassing. WordPress, a popular blogging site, hosts 256, 359 bloggers who post 212,187 daily items that generate 307,433 comments containing a total of 49,923,039 words.quiet zone

The problem is, everyone is so busy writing their blogs, no one has time to read them. There are an estimated 112 million blogs in existence. To appreciate this number, just imagine 112 million random, incessantly barking dogs. New York City is roughly 12 million. Imagine twelve New Yorks barking incessantly.

Collectively, the world of barking ... oops, blogging is called the "blogosphere." One of the unique characteristics of blogs is that most of them feature an exhaustive list of other blogs, meaning that further distraction is only a mouse click away. Start on one blog and you can find yourself in uncharted territory fairly quickly.
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The media world is in free fall at the moment. "Print is dead," we hear, and newspapers large and small are shuttering their doors to prove the point. Everywhere the lament is the same, "How do you remain solvent in a new electronic world where everything is free?" Well, uh, Green Living Journal has been providing free information for two decades now. There's nothing new about free.

Here at Green Living Journal we are celebrating our 20th year in business. In looking at our early issues, what stands out is not how much has changed, but how much things have stayed constant. 1990 is often considered the final year of the Cold War. Microsoft was already a behemoth with over a billion dollars in annual sales and nearly 6000 employees. Google would not exist for another eight years. Google, by the way, now generates almost $22 billion in annual revenues and has over 20,000 employees.

Social networking is the current media craze. Facebook and Twitter are growing like mushroom clouds, despite the fact that neither has yet discovered a path to profitability. That apparently is irrelevant in a world where growth and potential trump everything. I can't help but ask myself "Would Scott Nearing tweet?"

The best thing about this, or any, birthday is that it provides an excuse to reconnect with old friends. That's exactly what we have done with this issue, contacting folks who have been "friends of the environment" at least as long as we have. Their reflections on the passage of time are dotted throughout this special issue. Collectively, this is a group that deserves immense credit for moving us towards a greener future.

I was particularly amused by the "technology postscript" that Chris Plant, the publisher (along with his wife, Judith) at New Society added to his contribution:

"After riding the giant wave of the computer revolution in the ‘80s, the most significant technological change of the ‘90s occurred in the form of the fax machine. Lovingly purchased for the first time in about 1992-93, it completely changed the way we did business, making possible the instant transfer of documents, and heralding the beginning of ‘fast mode.'

"Only a handful of years later, email entered the picture, once again completely transforming our daily work into a frenzy that promises not to subside in intensity in any future I can imagine, save a global Internet meltdown.

"I used to subscribe to the belief that these changes were not only inevitable, but beneficial. But twenty years and a whole bunch of degenerated neurons later, I'm not so sure …"

The business model created by Marshall Glickman back in 1990 has proved remarkably buoyant. 2009 was our best year ever, but looking at past success is almost always a guarantee of future failure in a business where you are only as good as your most recent issue.

As founder Glickman likes to say "It's hard to sink a light ship," and our pledge to our community of friends is to remain a light ship, capable of bouncing atop of the media waves, and able to change course at a moment's notice. It may be a turbulent business environment, but there's a certain thrill attached to staying afloat.

20 years of green living. Is the world a greener place? Arguably so. Is our core message about living compatibly with our environment better understood? Absolutely. Is there reason to think that the future will be even greener? Read what our guest experts have to say. You'll find their collective optimism encouraging.

But, what about those 112 million bloggers? So many words and so little time. It's a noisy world out there in the blogosphere. A whole lotta woofin' goin' on. What famous person said "If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kennel?"

Must have been Marshall Glickman.

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River Valley editor: Stephen Morris
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