Fragments Future

Fragments “came together”, so to speak, in the spring of 2002–for a variety of reasons, a history of belonging and writing and journey of self-knowledge and sharing that I have embellished with photographs over the course of the past 15 years and literally millions of words.

And that journey has morphed through several molts over those years, not always for the better, and especially since social media eclipsed the “blog with comments” format and the shrill pundits have proven the squeaky wheel theory true.

And so, as you few remaining blog time-to-time visitors will attest, Fragments care and feeding have bordered on cruel neglect, increasingly over the past two years. During that time, the morning spaces I once filled with blog topics I excitedly and expectantly shared with “my blog friends” as wife called them has been filled instead with ambulance-chasing the bad news du jour, writing about same for Facebook, or some other mostly invisible place, or doing the work of civic duty I have willingly shouldered.

But now…

My server host is building down. Since 2005 I have had local tech support over lunch at the Floyd Country Store and reliable housing for Fragments, and been spoiled by such conscientious care, even in spite of more than my share of fubared archives, hacked code and other oddities of dysfunction under the hood, promptly repaired, and life goes on. But not any more.

And so I have to decide if 15 years is the good fight, tie the blog up in a bow, and send it to the attic for permanent disregard OTOH, I might keep it on life support with the thought that, if I did ever complete “the book” I intermittently work on, that I would have the blog as a platform for sharing and for getting the third book up into the radar.

That promise is much less likely to be realized than it was for Slow Road Home published in April of 2006 when blogs were vital and populated with special-interest readership and felt like community. That books was literally group-edited by more than 40 readers I’d never met but felt I knew.

I don’t know how I found so much time for the work that went into Fragments, only that it was my purpose and mission there for many years, because I could sense that the work matured me as a writer, photographer, researcher and citizen, so it was not a waste of time, regardless of what I have heard from some very local authorities.

Now, maybe Fragments is coming apart. I have a few weeks to decide. And then, if life goes on, I’ll need to do the work to make the paid blog hosting earn its keep in some way–even if only in renewing the self-satisfaction I once felt just knowing I had done the best job I could to be authentic, vulnerable, personal, honest, entertaining and at times, a bit provocative and obnoxious.

Thanks for traveling with the Strange Farmer all these years. However it turns out, I have few regrets and lots and lots of future nostalgic reading to recall this one place, understood.

Share this with your friends!

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. So I guess my new goal is to be the last blogger standing 🙂

    I’ll miss your musing Fred, I do read them all, even though you’ve had no way to know that in recent years. I hope you’ll continue to share your thoughts on FB or Medium.

  2. I guess something went wrong with my first attempt to comment. I just said that “Fragments” has been a bright light each morning with terrific photos and narrative. I read about your “host” shutting down operations and know that he will do anything he can to help you even if he’s no longer providing the server. Only you can determine the best course for “Fragments” and for Fred. Just know that we’re still out here and don’t want you to disappear. It’s your choice, but you will be missed if you do just disappear.

  3. Please know how much i have truly enjoyed reading Fragments all these years. I started way back, maybe 2003. When it was a daily blog, it was one of the day’s bright spots I looked forward to.
    I read both of your books and bought them as gifts for several people. Your photos have been of subjects that I deeply love: critters, plants, landscapes, dogs. Your musings, both solemn and light, I have carefully pondered. All good, Fred!
    I hope you will enjoy all this reading material in your dotage. Lots of it is housed in my deep memory banks, and I hope I will be prompted to recall some of my favorite things from your blog from time to time. (Spider webs; Tsuga; the barn in all seasons.)

  4. Thanks, all…My you have been faithful, through thick and thin—one of which–thick or thin– or both, lie ahead. I hate I would have to rely on strangers to house the massive beast, what with so many images over 15 years. Relocating it might not be practical or affordable. I have all that yet to wade through.

    Will see how the dice roll. I know there are folks who refuse to go through facebook to get to blog posts, and that has kept me posting to Fragments from time to time even lately, when it takes quite a few extra steps to do it that way.

    Something is gone out of me in the present changing climate–meteorological and social-political–that makes it hard for me to find the joy I once found in sharing the trivial or the profound. Might be one day that elan will return. Stay tuned!

  5. We old time bloggers helped usher in a tsunami of social media that has swamped us and traditional mass media alike. Little did we know how our posts would transform our lives and connect us to like minded souls around the world.

    I started my blog in California as a commentary on corporate life and it spawned a book, Danger Quicksand – Have A Nice Day which was a practical guide to surviving corporate life.

    Ten years later, your posts on Fragments From Floyd brought us to Floyd County and then my posts brought others to Floyd.

    In 2005, I was introducing artists to the strange new Internet at the Cafe Del Sol with your help and Doug Thompson. Now, everyone we know is on Facebook or another internet platform like LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, or Flickr and the artists are selling internationally through Ebay and Etsy.

    I spent my first years in Floyd sharing the hidden wonders of Floyd artists and places with the outside world and finally had to beg off when keeping up with the various events became too much to handle.

    The volume of Floyd critical information outgrew the bandwidth of all Floyd bloggers and we are no longer a choke point because the information is creating new channels every week.

    There are now many avenues for any Floyd artist or business to reach out to the world and we have Floyd discussion groups on Facebook which cover many aspects of Floyd life and the number of groups grows each month.

    I think your viewpoints and mine on Floyd and our changing environment are as valuable as ever but we may need to revise our formats to capture the attention of readers in the midst of the avalanche of information we now are deluged with.

    People use smartphones for most of their reading now and they get their reading, not from a browser, but from special purpose applications that bring them the updates they want on an hourly basis. Getting and keeping subscribers as your interests change is an interesting challenge.

    For those of us with many divergent interests, there is also the problem of burdening our long time readers with new ideas that conflict with their notions of what they want to hear from us. Like Bob Dylan switching from acoustic folk guitar to a Fender Stratocaster at the Newport Folk Festival, we alienate those who resist change.

    I say, keep the blogging spirit alive, but do not get stuck on a particular format. If Podcasts or Videos will carry your message, embrace the medium that gives you the reach you are looking for.

    If your messages expand into other genres, as mine have, set up new soapboxes on the Internet to attract your new audiences and leave links on the old blogs to show where you are going now.

    You still have new things to say and so do I, but these new ideas do not negate the value of what we have written in the past and shared with our readers. If you really do not want to add new Fragments, at least preserve the old ones for awhile.

    I have moved my ancient posts to WordPress and to a very stable hosting company, so I know it can be done.

  6. As you remarked not long ago, it was daughter Bogie who brought me to your blog. It doesn’t seem likely, but, if you (or anyone else) is like me, the energy available for blogging isn’t as high as it was 15 years ago. Whether your blog is here or not I couldn’t forget you if I tried The beautiful violet print jogs my memory each time I walk by it. Thanks for years of enjoyment!

  7. Your influence for good, the beautiful, and the peaceful on this site is more than you will ever know. I do deeply miss those early blogging years, learning to express in poetry, prose, and imagery to a potentially unlimited audience for free, yet retaining individuality and community which current social media fails to retain. Now everyone believes they are a writer, an artist and express themselves to infinity, you know, just like CB radio of the 1970s. I hope the few true artists and writers like yourself can continue to find a mode of expression that brings fulfillment to yourself and a community that gets it, or understands. If you decide to close the door, please keep in touch.

  8. Even though I am pretty new to your blog, I have enjoyed reading your posts and seeing your photos..and I love your book, Slow Road Home! It’s a real jewel in my opinion! Blessings to you in whatever the future holds..

  9. Lots of smiles over the miles, and no going back. Going forward, a step at a time. We’ll see what paths open up, if other than or in addition to the blog. I don’t regret the hours or the keystrokes, and have connected with so many fine folk–even if far too many are distant but kindred spirits.

  10. Seems like more and more bloggers are closing up shop these days. Times change and all that.

    But before I start to wax nostalgic, I remind myself that I used to read (and comment on) blogs on my laptop with its actual keys, and now I largely lurk on my phone, scrolling and nodding, but not much more. It’s difficult to keep talking into the ether when online conversations have moved elsewhere.

    Whenever a significant period of my life ends, I remind myself that Thoreau lived at Walden for only two years, saying he had “other lives to live.”

  11. I discovered your blog in 2015–a late-comer for sure! I enjoyed it. I admire your sincere devotion to helping this planet in distress, and I appreciate the knowledge and wisdom you bring to it! I hope you decide to keep blogging, and at least post an article or two each month.