Back when I was part of a small but thriving Salisbury blogging community, one of the sites I enjoyed reading was called The Gunpowder Chronicle.
I say “Salisbury” based on where Tim Patterson grew up, not where he lived at the time he wrote the blog, up in northern Baltimore County (the “Hereford Zone”) in the basin of the Gunpowder River. But he often wrote about Salisbury affairs, and it was worthwhile reading for the three years or so that he regularly did the blog – it sort of faded from the limelight around 2010, although this internet archive shows he last posted in 2013.
So I was a little surprised to see on social media that The Gunpowder Chronicle was reborn in a different venue, Substack. Reading the initial post: yeah, he’s the same guy. (I originally typed “sane” – Freudian slip?) If I see a couple more posts in the next week I’ll place him back on the blog list he once occupied with his version 1.0 (check out this old view and see what I used to contend with.)
It also got me to thinking, though: is Substack the modern-day upscale version of Blogger? I hadn’t really heard of the site until Erick Erickson started his own Substack (after The Resurgent was bought out) but the difference is that many of those on Substack have a subscription base that pays $5 – 10 a month to read their work. (Erickson is one who I subscribe to, for the low end of the scale.) I also realized that I’m subscribed to a publication that in the process of moving, AND Magazine. They’re dropping their domained website to go to Substack because they’re worried about censorship.
So I got on the social media horn to welcome Tim back and asked why the change?
“Substack is committed to freedom of speech. I cannot say the same thing about Google/Blogspot,” he said, adding, “A secondary reason is I think the Substack model shows more promise going forward.” The former is indeed a valid concern, as Patterson also stated, “I am really unhappy with what Google has done with YouTube in terms of banning/cancelling/demonetizing people.”
On the other hand, that secondary reason does have potential for some – there weren’t many of us who properly monetized our sites when blogs were the thing, though, which is why we still have our day jobs. Longtime readers may recall I’ve had some advertisers and sponsors along the way, but they basically made my website a break-even enterprise at best. So I don’t hold out a lot of hope on that one.
All this got me to thinking, though: is it time to make a change, or expand?
In looking into Substack, it appears they deal with WordPress blogs; however, I only have a WordPress base while monoblogue is my domain. Said domain, though, is on at least its third server owner since I began with midPhase back in 2005 – they were bought out by someone who in turn was the little fish swallowed up by some other company that I believe operates out of the UK. I would love to be with a local entity but there’s not one I am aware of that would handle my site. Obviously I worry a little that my “barely left of militia” worldview may not comport with ownership but I don’t have the wherewithal to be my own server.
One answer may be to begin a Substack for the political but retain some of my features here, such as my news stories, Shorebird of the Week, its tracker, and the SotW Hall of Fame. Nothing imminent – right now it falls in my “something to pray about” file – but in this era it’s not a bad idea to have options.
In the meantime I think I’m one of Tim’s initial subscribers. Give him a look and maybe you will be too.