Standalone Bloggers

β€œThe future of the new media, in my opinion, is moving away from personal sites toward online collectives that are focused on particular interests,” Joe Carter

Ted Olsen at Christianity Today contemplates the future of standalone bloggers, mentioning three of them [including me]. His post is a kind reference to Joe Carter’s recent thoughts on standalone bloggers in which I am also singled out as a DYING BREED of bloggers in the midst of a mega-conglomorate-collaborative future. My words, not Joe’s. I told you about Joe last week and his new site called Culture 11. Lovely guy! No hard feelings! I feel the love . . . really!


I am not knocking the group blogging efforts here. Au contraire. In 2002 I gathered 40 faith bloggers from a dozen countries and started what might have been the worlds first faith-based global communal blog called A Kingdom Space [now deceased]. And I enjoy reading collaborative blogs as well as the radical individual thoughts of rhizome cowboys.

So even if I am a dying breed of blogger, I still think there is a place for standalone bloggers like me.


– As a standalone blogger, I offer the accountability of a single view point that a reader may or may not agree with but at least everyone knows where that viewpoint is coming from.

– Many people want a filter, not a funnel. A standalone blogger can give the skinny [sorry] on a situation or topic and serve their audience by REDUCING the amount of material to read, rather than turning on the fire hydrant in their face and streaming them with an information overload.

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– Another advantage of being a standalone blogger is that people can pin the blame on a real person, they can project their frustrations onto a human being rather than pointing to a faceless group. And we all like having someone to dump on.

– A standalone blog is a window to a real person and is therefore, or at least it should be, a holistic picture of someone’s life. You are therefore far more likely to see a picture of a blogger’s cat on a standalone blog than in a collaborative blog.

– Being an individual means you can speak for yourself and be bolder than you would be if you were trying to speak on behalf of the group.

– When my mother comes on my blog to look for pics of the kids, she doesn’t really want to sort through other people’s mess to get there.

– Online collectives might be more efficient in gathering information but a single standalone blogger can appeal to a unique audience. The gospel writers might have been more efficient if they produced a single collaborative gospel, and the New Testament may have been lighter to carry in your pocket, but the fact is, and we celebrate this fact, that we have Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and each book is wonderfully unique in a standalone way.

I think the future is still bright for Standalones but thats not to say that things will stay the same. As we upload more and more content on other websites other than our own, as we send our photos to flickr, our stories to Digg, our phone video to QIK, our movies to youtube, etc, we become life-streamers more than bloggers. The standalone blog will thus look more and more like a dashboard than a web page. Eventually our standalone blog will resemble a one screen portal to the various streams of our media-ated life.

So, although I still participate on group blogging efforts, and even though I have thought of opening this blog up to multiple authors, I think I will stay standalone blogging for some time yet. Anyone care to stand with me?


Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.


  • Eddie says:

    The bottom line is that your blog is interesting and informative and as long as you keep my interest and keep informing me, I’ll keep reading. Thanks Andrew.

  • John says:

    I try to combine a healthy dose of both. I think there’s value in both.
    But, having your own space is crucial I think.

  • John L says:

    The phrase “stand-alone blogger” is an oxymoron. Blogging is a globally participative activity. Simply by participating in the virtual ecclesia, we’re creating a broader community.
    Individual blogs are public personal journals – a collection of life thoughts, interests, and passions. I’ve not seen recent stats, but last time I checked personal blogs were -anything- but on the decline. They are exploding.
    The rise of group blogs is great, but usually represents a move towards agenda and centralization of some kind. Which isn’t bad, but it can never replace one’s personal journal. Ted Olson is creating a false tension – a remnant of a dying institutional ecclesia.

  • I [like a lot of others] will continue to stand alone with you.
    The spirit of blogging, and by extension life streaming, is to open up your heart and share it with the world.
    “Personal” is what makes blogging real, and collectives aren’t nearly as personal.
    Welcome to the U.S.A.

  • AMG says:

    The number of stand alone personal blogs may be exploding, but the number of those worth reading (like TSK,, and Urban Onramps)appears to be declining. Most (like my blog) are basically for personal and family consumption and that can only interest a stranger for so long. Personally, I think other types of blogging such as the quasi-blogging that takes place on Facebook and the micro-blogging on Twitter, will soon be moving pass stand alone blogs in popularity.

  • Mark says:

    Interesting… I’d go the other way, I don’t think collaborative Blogs generally work, at least all the ones I have been involved in or regularly read have died after a season, whereas individual Blogs are free to change and mutate in order to reflect the journey of the Blogger… and of course a Blog is not a Blog if it isn’t participatory (hence I don’t see all those ODMs who don’t allow response/comment are not “true” blogs πŸ˜‰ I agree with AMG that micro-blogging is growing and fills a niche within the Blogosphere, but they, by their nature, lack some depth.
    I do see that individual Bloggers with form nodes within the open Network, if nothing else through association e.g. “Friend of…” badges and Facebook networks.

  • I have a favorites folder in my RSS reader – blogs that I read first. None of them are collective blogs.
    Part of the allure of blogging is the “Truman Show” or “Ed TV” allure – an anonymous window into someone’s life. I read because I’m interested in what that individual has to say, and secondly I like to see how they live to see why they hold the perspective they do.

  • brad says:

    There will always be something to be said for the ‘single malt’ brew of a blog. And there will always be a tension between the possibilities inherent in single malts versus mixes.
    If blogs are in part about “cultural creative” activities, then might I suggest that some paradigm shifters and pioneers are ducks and others are squirrels? For ducks, research and development is best done individually at certain stages, where the incubation will otherwise be disturbed by the involvement of others – stillness is needed before the idea is ready to hatch and then join community. For squirrels, innovation best happens in a group setting; ideas don’t get sparked and sifted unless the whole litter participates and there typically is a lot of frenetic activity (and perhaps a lotta nutty ideas flying all over the place!). But it is what it is.
    Personally, I’m for the both-and multi-species approach (would that make me a platypus?). However, I recognize that each of us is providentially “wired” for creativity in different ways, and we need to discover that design and pursue it, for the sake of both self and community. Let the ducks be ducks, let the squirrels be squirrels, let the platypi (platypus? platoporoti?) ummm … be whatever the plural form of platypus is.
    And we need to watch out for the dangers: The individual creator can easily become isolated from others, and then stuck at the very point where input from others will help him/her break through to the next stage. Meanwhile, the group creation approach can easily land on a direction too early in the process that pre-empts and overrides the potential contributions of individuals; ironically, this mistake spawns conformity that squelches maximum creativity. Worse, these species can become very suspicious of one another. Maybe some occasional mixer parties in the 1000-acre woods will change that, as we all fly, jump, swim, run, dive, climb together.
    Oops. Did I digress? Or was that just squirrelish flittering combined with some long-term break-outta-the-shell ducking? Or, maybe that was all just an example of platypreposterosity?! Anyway, we need different kinds of blogs. Glad yours has been here as both a single-malt and as a portal to some darn fine mixes!

  • andrew jones says:

    thanks brad – by any chance is your comment sponsored by NATIONAL FLIPPIN’ GEOGRAPHIC??????
    hey – see you next week in san francisco.

  • brad says:

    no. i just made it up as i went along.
    international trippin’ neomonastic is probably more my magazine.

  • John L says:

    I just read Ted’s CT post. It appears that Joe Carter is confusing political community with ecclesial community. Good politics is built on a consensus of the masses, hence the rise of centralized virtual collectives (e.g., Huffington Post). Such collectives are more about promoting ideological uniformity than gathering spiritual community.
    Centralized/group ecclesial blogs are very often a reflection of the religious-institutional thinking from which we are trying to break free.
    Have fun in Las Vegas – best Thai food is a little family-owned place not far from the convention center, here:

  • becky says:

    As a journalist, I find there’s always going to be a need for a small group of ‘experts’ that I can contact for accurate information. Whereas I used to have to phone/email these individuals, I can now go to their blogs and then simply email them to verify this information.
    The trick in this online world where one can fabricate a persona is to do one’s research to ascertain who’s the real deal. (I knew you were or real when Jonny Baker kept referencing you in a blog for example.) I do predict that those who are faux experts will eventually fade because you can only fool people for so long.

  • Peggy says:

    The Abbess is proud to stand with you, um, as a stand alone blogger … is that an oxymoron?
    Anyway, we need the diversity of the both/and, not the dichotomy of the either/or, eh?

  • Ed Stetzer says:

    I am in.
    At least for now.
    But, it is not easy to generate content all the time.
    Maybe we should join up? Grin.

  • Bill Kinnon says:

    I can’t remember which one of the Marx Brothers it was who said, “I would never join a club which would have me as a member.” (I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Karl.)
    I blog alone. Just me and millions of others.

  • Phil Wyman says:

    If Standalone Bloggers disappear does that mean standalone authors, and standalone philosophers, standalone artists, standalone musicians, and standalone cooks will disappear as well? It’s hard for me to imagine a world in which interesting independent thinking falls out of vogue. In fact, it seems like a fairly terrifying concept of Hell methinks.

  • yeah, yeah… just don’t quit doing it….
    Do not go gentle into that good night,
    Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
    Rage, rage against the dying of the (computer tinted) light.
    Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
    Because their words had forked (or deleted) no lightning they
    Do not go gentle into that good night.
    Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
    Their frail deeds (or typo’s) might have danced in a (once) green (Apple II now on E ) bay,
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.——————
    Sorry – guess the first thing i thought was – Dylan Thomas… but couldn’t help squishing in some thoughts there……
    Or…… “i’m your Huckle-(black)-berry”– we all need a lil Doc Holliday at times.
    It will be a cool book in the Library of Heaven one day…
    luv ya,

  • andrew jones says:

    yes, in the [face]Book of Life.
    Groucho, Bill, its Groucho Marx.

  • Cobus says:

    Maybe we down here on the South-point of Africa is a little behind the rest, maybe not, but I’ll still be blogging alone for a while, although I’ve started a number of collaborative blogs in my life (none working as good as my standalone ones though).

  • Brian says:

    Perhaps in a world that’s sole focus is to sell or consume, the “online collectives that are focused on particular interests” are indeed the wave of the future. However, for those of us who have quoted a Tall Skinny Kiwi and believe in the power of micro-casting and that what makes us indeed the most human is to blog our own voice in our own rhythm and in our own way (with our own graphics) I believe the “stand-alone blog” is here to move us together into a new future.
    If the blogosphere is a window into the souls of those who share, as stated above, it is by nature collaborative, but allows for a single voice to have voice and allows for that single voice to on occasion join others in song or protest or activism or idea share.
    I raise my mouse to the voice on one calling in the blogosphere…

  • Adrian says:

    I am totally with you…

  • – I raise my Tall Skinny glass in a toast….
    – salt peaty humor of Orkney’s Coast….
    – To the finest Single Malt on the Blogosphere
    —– BE That Logos to My Ear!!!!!
    -His fingers dance and twitter still
    – send some dosh to bless the skill
    -though ego bellows when it’s torn
    —- by evils Tempest Cyber-Storm
    -Blessed by lightning dexterity
    – Love of God his pint of heresy
    -Jesus poured out in Word- I Phone
    —- You will Never standalone!
    couldn’t help myself- can i have another drink please!
    shalom & ahava,

  • Alan Cross says:

    I stand alone – for the most part. I’ve done the collaborative blog thing and it is difficult, to say the least. I like the freedom of my own blog and for the folks who read it, it creates good discussion. So, I’ll stand alone with you Andrew, but we’re never really alone, are we? I mean, I come here and read your stuff and comment, so, that’s collaboration right there, eh?
    Have fun in SF for me. Say hello to old friends. I’d love to see Eric and Linda and Brad again.

  • david w says:

    my dog and i collaborate on my blog

  • Craig Sadler says:

    I thought that aggregation was what my newsreader and does, why do I need to further use a collaborative blog. At the end of the day it is about relationship and i can’t have that with a collaborative blog. Seems that is more pointed towards information rather than relationship. I know I have never met the authors of many of the blogs I read, but I appreciate the public dimension to their journey including yours. Keep blogging Andrew as I will continue to read, even though we have never met. Fascinating really isn’t it.

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