Thursday, February 24, 2011

Is Blogging Dead?

Maybe.  Or at least it's dying out.   Many RSS feed readers have already ceased to exist (is Google Reader the only one left?) and just today, I got an email from Yahoo's MyBlogLog, letting me know it will terminate on May 24th of this year*.  This week, the NYTimes reported: Blogs Wane as the Young Drift to Sties Like Twitter. It's no surprise that with our ever-shortening attention spans, the lure of the 30-second sound-byte and the popularity of texting over actual talking that this would be the case.  While blogging platforms like WordPressBlogger and LiveJournal continue to exist, who knows when their numbers might be up.

But is it really so dire?  In addition to the article above on the death of blogs, this week's NYTimes also featured a huge article on Mommy Blogs. So perhaps the end of blogging isn't as imminent as it might seem.  In the meantime, I'll work to keep my blog posts short and sweet, ala Bookshelves of Doom, in hopes that folks keep reading.

*so I guess I'll have to find another way to track the trickle of blog traffic!

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  1. I've been thinking about how to formulate some arguments on this, so here they are:

    1. I think the disappearance of RSS readers other than Google Reader isn't necessarily a sign of lower popularity of blogs - it could also be a sign of Google's tendency to wipe out the competition in any market it has a share in (like Google as a search engine, or gmail).

    2. It's been a while since I've been active on LiveJournal, but I got the impression at the time that many LJ users weren't blogging in the traditional (!) sense of the term: they were using the site to participate in fan communities, role-playing groups, etc. I don't think interest in those is declining - but like I said it's been a while since I've really spent time on LJ.

    3. It's interesting you mention the attraction of 30-second soundbites, since for me, that's actually part of the reason *why* I read blogs. When I'm looking for a 30 (or, more likely, 3) second read, I'll often scan the headlines on Google Blogsearch (hey, another Google product!), and only follow up on the stories that actually interest me.

    4. I have absolutely no data to back this up, but I like to think that any medium that screams out "talk about yourself! share your stories!" is likely to continue to attract people, since this seems like such a fundamentally human thing to want to do.

    - Jill

  2. Aren't people also leaving LiveJournal because of the ads, how they deleted stuff with mature content with no warning a couple of years ago, and similar upset-the-user-base actions?

    I think part of Blogger's stats decline can be attributed to feed readers; even if other feed readers no longer exist, a lot of people keep up using Google Reader instead of actually visiting a blog, and only clickthrough to comment/read the comments.

    You might want to read Clive Thompson's article, "How Tweets and Texts Nurture In-Depth Analysis," in the January issue of Wired. Basically, his argument is that the tweets are good for news and updates, but that makes us hungrier for analysis with the benefit of reflection.

    Finally, motivation -- or maybe it's more accurate to say, the type of blog a person has -- probably has something to do with it, too. I mean, in terms of book blogs, I think sites like GoodReads are bigger competition for blogging platforms than Twitter. (Though even then, it doesn't leave room for longer discourses about books that *aren't* book reviews.) But if you just blogged about what was going on in your life, or if it was photo- or video-based instead of text-based, then yeah, I can see why you'd migrate to something else.


  3. Interesting points, ladies! As a person who uses Google Reader, I wondered what reading blogs through a reader did for their stats and worried people didn't know I was following. Guess that worry is confirmed!

    I had an LJ for a class, and the platform was good for hosting discussions. Once the class was finished though, I never went back. I just didn't like the aesthetics and didn't have enough connection to others on LJ to stay. I feel like I heard about some controversy with them, but couldn't tell you what.

    The analysis/reflection point is interesting. I find that I want that from a blog, but I also find that I only skim longer blog posts - especially reviews - and gravitate toward shorter entries.

    And now I'm wondering. If blogging is on the decline, what about vlogging? Does the shortness of clips, combined with visuals make it more appealing?

  4. Interesting conversation!

    Alicia, I can say for myself that I almost never watch videos of any kind (vlogs or otherwise) online. I know! - it's like it's still 1980s Usenet around here but my reasons are: 1)it actually sort of is still Usenet around here, since my internet connectivity remains so shoddy, 2)text is just easier on my eyes/brain (I also watch very little TV), and 3)I can read - or at least skim - MUCH faster than I can watch. So if I'm browsing CNN for the day's news, for example, I'll read/skim the text stories and skip the video ones.

    Trisha, you're referring to Strikethrough in summer 2007, and I was actually one of the users who left LJ over it! But the 'joke' was on me because Greatest Journal, which I moved to instead, closed up shop completely (and also without warning), so I lost all the material I had there...and ultimately went back to LJ when they half-heartedly apologized. I think they really did understand that they'd fumbled badly on that one (although what they planned to do differently in the future wasn't clear).

    You're absolutely right about the ads, though - I'd forgotten that new addition. I loved some of LJ's features (nested comments, communities, the ease in connecting with other LJ users [I kept meaning to invite virtual guests to my class that way but it never worked out]), but if I was looking for a new platform today, I wouldn't use them. In fact the links that refer to my old class blogs explicitly mention that users did not see ads at the time the blogs were being actively used.

  5. Great post!

  6. As a fellow blogger, I share your fears. As I expand my news-source horizons to websites like Huffington Post, and other less memorable niche websites in the techie community and politically twisted spinsites, I bemoan the increasing preponderance of typographical spelling errors. However, being an old-school student of verbosity, I am also a classicist-leaning anti-traditionalist. I write a blog which defies the sound-bite-oriented audiences, and invites its readers into a more luxurious reading experience. I, for one, will not stop blogging (especially since I am also an Amazon Associate who is constantly advertising his own recently published book). I will persistently create unrelated content in order to permit readers to visit the web so that they can enjoy some detox (or catheatic literature, if you will) without being barraged with fear-mongering divisiveness and journalistic deception. The time has come to expect more from bloggers, not less! [I cannot properly recommend my writings to young adults, but I will defend blogging as a sociological art AND as a creative market!]

  7. Ooops, I meant to say "cathartic." I myself have become guilty of typos now!

  8. More responsiveness: I will proudly claim to be the author of what Theyayayas called "longer discourses about books that *aren't* book reviews." But I would also like to raise a troubling point: I have always steered clear of inclusive communities which would invite me to join members of my craft/discipline/hobby who share my views and activities, especially when they don't. The problem I see in the NYTimes article is that it is talking about a narrow sector of the audience, based on the assumption that all bloggers are more interested in posting videos and sharing short comments on Facebook and Twitter. I could easily argue that it is far easier to write a long rant in my blog and then post that entry on Facebook or Twitter than to make a "Notes" page on Facebook, or summarize a rant in less than 140 characters on Twitter. Slant. It makes the news world go round, but that's why the news world runs away!