The Art of … Can we talk?

The Art of… started life as The Art of Books back at a time when the numbers for this blog began to drop off. The column did little to change that, so I switched to a more general Art of in a further attempt to stave off obscurity. I’ve had fun with the idea, finding a lot of art that I personally enjoyed, but it hasn’t had an effect on the number of views to the blog. I’ve taken the time to find the highest quality images possible and to add tidbits here and there that make it more than just finding a pretty picture and showing it to you. And still, the numbers keep dropping off.

Marcus did an excellent post yesterday (stderr) about similar problems with his blog, except in Marcus’ case he spends a lot of time researching, referencing and writing quality material that puts my small effort to shame and it left me feeling even more panicked about the losses here. If a good writer who deals with important issues the way Marcus does is losing readers what hope is there for me.

When Jack was alive and Jack’s Walk was still a thing, numbers didn’t matter as much. I knew people cared about Jack and those people became an extension of his family, our family. When Caine died and Affinity became a team blog my first goal was to help keep the community Caine created together. Once the initial loss of readers stabilized, I felt that our team had achieved that. Then I began looking for new goals and the one I settled on was to pass on my love for the simple things in life, to share the beauty that still exists despite the ugliness of our modern life. Jack was my main vehicle for doing that, but another element that had meaning for me was the submissions we received from readers. I loved posting and your art and I still do, but there hasn’t been much lately and that has me worried.

I hate that numbers matter to me, but before I lose all of you I want to know that what I’m doing has some relevance. I’m not an artist and I don’t consider the bits of card making/scrapbooking/paper crafting that I do to be art, but are any of you interested in seeing what sorts of art I do enjoy looking at? Would you prefer if I made changes? For example, instead of ping-ponging around, would a longer view of a particular artist be more appealing? Say a week at a time on a single artist. Or would you prefer I focus on modern artists or classical artists or expand my view of art to include craftspeople, musicians, poets, photographers, buskers, etc.? Have the plethora of well-presented vlogs and multi-media channels made diving into static images boring.

Alternately, I’ve wondered about creating content related to Jinx and Sophie, my 3-month-old kittens. They don’t get out and about much, but they do keep me grounded and with a bit of practice, I could use them to share the simple sort of worldview I shared with Jack. I think. Cats are more sedentary and their worldview is more self-serving, but I might be able to make that work. The internet seems to love silly cat videos, does that extend to getting to know 2 silly cats through stories and snapshots, or is that also better done with quality video production values, which I have no desire to learn.

I’m not ready to go away, but I’d appreciate any honest feedback you can give me.


  1. Rob Grigjanis says

    You’ve written some of the most moving pieces I’ve read on the internet. I’d be happy if you just wrote whatever took your fancy.

  2. Bruce says

    I think that engaging communications are those in which the enthusiasm of the presenter is seen. So, what YOU are enthusiastic about on the day you make a post is inherently the right thing to post about. Maybe supplement a post of art or travel or animals or whatever with half a sentence on why you like it. People don’t have to love subject X in advance. People love it that YOU love item X. Can you make it plain to us what is nice about it? In other words, blog what you want.

  3. avalus says

    Hm, I think I really enjoyed the varied mixture of art, even though I rarely commented. But I just saw so many new things.

    I for one think, that can never have enough silly kitten snapshots.

    On a more serious note: I think what you list IS art.I would love to see some of your paper crafts, it does not need to be a three stories magicians manse ;)
    Post what you are enthusiastic about :)

  4. Jazzlet says

    I agree with all that the above commenters have said, I cried with you when Jack had to go, and I rarely cry about something I have read. I like the art, but I especially like it when you say something about why you like it, I rarely comment because I feel I completely lack the vocabulary or knowledge -- I’m a bit “I know what I like when I see it”. I also agree that your crafting is art, so seeing that would be good. As for Jinx and Sophie, well of course I’d like to watch them grow up, and hear about the adventures they have, even if those adventures are only in their minds ;-)

    I am also aware that I haven’t been commenting much, but it isn’t because I am not interested in what you or the others are posting, it’s more a reflection of having had a difficult time, which I know is true for others. I do value affinity as a “safe space”, it’s not that there is never contentious content, more that I trust you all to keep the comments under control.

  5. chigau (違う) says

    What Rob said, write what pleases you.
    Also I always say yes to kitten pictures.

  6. amts says

    Professional lurker here, chiming in to echo the above. I never have much to say but do enjoy the variety of posts here.

  7. Nightjar says

    It seems to me that the format in which silly cats are presented doesn’t really make a difference when it comes to the internet’s love for cats! I know that since I first saw your post about Sophie and Jinx I have been waiting to see more of them. I also agree with what others have said. You are a talented writer. Keep writing about and showing us the things you are passionate about.

    I’m still lurking here because the content of the blog still appeals to me and I care about the people here. But I haven’t been commenting or sending submissions lately. Maybe I should make an effort to submit something once in a while, sharing my photography with others here is something I miss. Sadly, photography has taken a backseat in my life lately. There are reasons for that which I won’t go into details here because that’s not the point. I still go out with my camera once in a while, but I’ve been lacking the motivation (and the time) to make anything interesting out of those random photos I take. This post has me thinking though. Maybe I could just send random photos sometimes. And maybe doing that would slowly help me find the motivation I lost…

  8. Lofty says

    I fear this whole “page clicks” metric will only ever lead to sadness. Just do what you enjoy and occasionally seek a little feedback from your friends on the blog. I for one enjoy these small diversions into the little known corners of the art world, even if I don’t comment much anymore.

  9. Tethys says

    I can only speak for myself, but I do look at your Art of posts even though I have not been commenting much lately.

    I appreciate your efforts and stories. Maybe the fact that art isn’t a controversial subject accounts for the lack of engagement? I think the conclusion of Marcus’s post on the subject is that there is so much content available that blogs are getting less traffic and vlogs are the new, hip form of social media engagement.

  10. Ice Swimmer says

    As others have told, please write and post what best pleases you! I like your writing and find your choices of the art in the “Art of” to be worthwhile even when they aren’t inviting me to comment.

    As for the user contributions, for my part, I still value this blog and community, but the effects of the covid epidemic and restrictions and other stuff* have left me with less energy for photography and photo editing and I have been having a chronic shortage of disk space so, the photos I’ve taken have stayed in the phone. Now I’ve archived a lot of older pictures, so there’s a bit more space. I seem to have photographed various things.
    * = I know I’m not alone. We’ve all been affected.

  11. flex says

    I am probably not alone in that I often will write a comment (and being me it’s usually far too long) and when I re-read it and edit it I find that I’m not happy with what I wrote. So I delete it. Probably more than half my comments are deleted by me before I submit them.

    I just deleted the next thousand words I wrote, it was a prime example of what I wrote above, and I’ll just say this:

    First, I enjoy your posts. Even if I don’t comment all that often.
    Second, I disagree with Tethys when they say that art isn’t a controversial subject.
    Third, falling hits may be due to search algorithms which promote sites which already have thousands of hits. I also would not be surprised to learn that the most popular search engine creators are willing to be paid by content providers to promote their sites. So even if your post is spot-on a subject, internet searches will put it on page 10 of the results. That’s one of the reasons I still enjoy browsing a bookstore.

  12. Tethys says

    When I claimed art is not controversial I meant that the art that is posted in this space is not going to spark a debate in the comments in the same way that a political OP might over on Pharyngula.

  13. says

    Signing myself onto FtB has always been about being in a celebrity’s sidebar. The existence of PZ Myers (and coming in at silver and bronze Mano and Marcus) is the only reason I have clicks at all. PZ’s traffic, we can infer from comment frequency, seems to be way down from a few years ago, and your diminished returns may be as simple as that. Not to say we also-rans aren’t producing things of value, but if the main draw of the network has a big enough drop, we’ll definitely see an effect.

    Why this is happening I’m not sure, but I’m getting rumblings here and there that blogs everywhere are taking a hit, possibly because 9 out of 10 people have been doomscrolling social media like a permanent flaming bloody car crash for the last few years, letting all other interests slide away. A lot of the people I interact with online do seem distracted, lost, diminished lately. Health problems getting worse. Bad vibes.

    I don’t know if anything can be done for that, but the artists (and curators like yourself) and other content creators of the world can just keep doing their thing, trying to put good stuff out there, it will be something nice to come back to once people snap out of it. Just a thought.

  14. flex says

    @14 Tethys,

    I know. I was just being a little silly. I like seeing the art here. No offense intended.

  15. bodach says

    Lurker here. I am always fascinated by what moves other’s hearts and spirit enough to create and maintain a blog,
    Thank you for opening yet another window for me.

  16. dakotagreasemonkey says

    One Idea for the kittens, is a visit from Jack’s fairies, teaching them how to grow up as magical cats. I still delve into old pages to re-read those stories.
    Your choices of art have been great, I’ve enjoyed seeing them! I mostly lurk here, maybe it’s time I did a little more for the blog, too.
    Thank you for keeping C alive.

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