As part of my Blogging Renaissance* I decided to update my blogroll. Hoo boy. The link rot is real.
Apparently I haven’t actually gone through and removed dead links from my sidebar since sometime in 2012. That makes sense, since my son was born at the end of 2012, and my life became somewhat busier accordingly. Of course the real nail in the coffin of this blog was going from teaching in Georgian public schools to private schools with an International Baccalaureate curriculum. I’ve promised to talk a little bit about what that’s like – and believe me, I have *many opinions* about the IB that I’d like to share – but that’s for another time and post. Suffice it to say that IB schools come with an… enhanced workload.
So my link pruning process is simple. I go through all my links and check if they still link to anything. If they don’t I delete them – a few former Georgia bloggers have deleted their blogs entirely, so those links aren’t really worth keeping (I suppose I could try searching them in the Internet Archive, but maybe it’s better to just let some things go). If the link is still alive, I review the content and make sure it’s still in the right category. For example, if it’s a blog that hasn’t had a post since 2012 (there were a surprising number of these), I move the link from “Georgia Blogs” to “Inactive Georgia Blogs”. If it’s an active blog, but the person no longer writes about Georgia, the link goes to “Former Georgia Blogs”.
That process has taken me on a fun little trip down memory lane. I
stalked caught up with some old friends. I read some stories about people’s flights out of the country at end of the 2011-2012 school year (that was the last year that TLG was trying to be huge; for the next year they downsized 75% of their teachers, which probably accounts for the surprising number of blogs that cut off abruptly in 2012). I thought about some of the friends I’ve made who have come and gone. It’s bittersweet.
But the whole process got me thinking about how the English-speaking Georgia-focused internet has changed since I came here. When I was researching Georgia in summer 2010, I found maybe three blogs about Georgia, none of which were still active. Then TLG brought hundreds of foreigners in, and maybe ten percent of us blogged, which really resulted in a sort of Georgia blog explosion, so by 2012 my Georgia blogroll alone was like 40 entries long. But then something else happened. Georgian Wanderers took off, Georgia started getting more press coverage in travel sections of newspapers throughout the Western world, and the government’s efforts to transition from Russian to English as Georgia’s second language started to bear some serious fruit. TripAdvisor and Google Maps set up shop in Georgia. Suddenly you didn’t need to wade through some random blogger’s personal anecdotes to find the information you wanted. Georgia became more legible.
In a way this mirrors the process of the transition between Georgia as a country with three fast food restaurants – all of them McDonald’s – to a country with a fairly well-developed market in Western amenities, including a selection of fast food restaurants, shopping malls, foreign clothing brands, etc. It’s very obvious how much the country has changed every time I take a ride down Chavchavadze in Tbilisi and think back to the first time I saw it, seven years ago. For people who left in 2012 and came back after 2015 or so, the change can be jarring.
I personally really like the direction that Georgia is heading. I like being able to find information quickly on the internet. I like Google Maps. I like Wendy’s. I especially like the plethora of non-smoking restaurants and the burgeoning craft beer scene in Tbilisi, which I promise to talk about more in my Hamburger Revolution post. But recognizing the difference between Georgia 2017 and Georgia 2012 means I have to recognize that this blog has a new purpose. I can no longer reasonably expect to be one of the few reasonably comprehensive sources of information about the country available in English. There is less value in “this is what it’s like in Georgia” style posts, partially because there are now so many of them and partially because “what it’s like in Georgia” is less relevant to expats than it used to be, given the large number of Western-style accommodations and resources.
But, you know, things are still happening, so I’ll talk about them. I’ll aim to do some restaurant reviews. Like I said before I’ll do some education posts. I’ll try to update my blogroll with modern links to the various media agencies that now cover Georgia in English. And every once in a while I’ll try to stir up some trouble, just to keep things interesting.
So anyway. Enjoy my new blogroll!
*i.e. my three-week-long plan to procrastinate from the pile of work I have to do this Winter Break
[video: Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground – The White Stripes]