Comments: Why (individual) Blogging Is Dead - Objective Measurement

For the people who thought blogging was going to transform the world, well, they're right; it has. I get almost all my news, and more importantly, in-depth niche analysis, from blogs. Google reader is still the only tab in my browser I never close.

That doesn't mean that it was destined to become some kind of new economy, or replace TV or anything like that. That's crazy talk. And while the Scobles of the world will alight on the shiniest thing they can find, their needs are driven by the desire to find shiny things and tell other people about them, which means they're not really like most people. Blogs / twitter have been more or less the accidental confluence that made them visible, but they're less visible now.

Posted by Barry Kelly at October 1, 2009 08:44 AM

Crazy talk?

Wherever you have good artists producing good art on one side and an audience willing to pay good money for good art on the other, there's art and money that needs to change hands.

Sounds like a new economy to me.

You can tell whether this is crazy or not by how desperate the incumbents are to prevent the future happening - this new economy. Spreading FUD to beguile you into believing it's 'crazy talk' is not a tactic that's beyond them.

Business as usual. Nothing to see here. Stop looking out of the window. Get back to your newspapers. We'll keep you informed.

Posted by Crosbie Fitch at October 1, 2009 09:05 AM

It's only dead if you *want* to play in the attention sandbox.

Posted by Karl at October 1, 2009 10:05 AM

i suppose the irony of posting this to your blog has not escaped you. in fact, i'm guessing that part of the reason you believe this is that your readership is down... dont fret, son, they'll come back

Posted by skeptik at October 1, 2009 10:21 AM

I winced when I saw the readership of my sites go down, but I wrote on to the web long before there was weblogging, and did so for reasons other than numbers of subscribers.

In some ways, though, much of the conversational aspect going elsewhere can actually be a benefit. I'm now more interested in writing that doesn't necessarily translate into a "conversation".

Posted by Shelley at October 1, 2009 11:04 AM

I'm skeptical of the (provocative) title: individuals will blog to the extent they want to, as they always have, and those with something to say will find a way to say it. As for "professional" blogging, I think to a large extent it's a myth, as I described in You're not going to a be professional blogger, no matter what the WSJ tells you.

When people tell you a medium has died, it usually means that medium has matured, at least somewhat, but the idea of being able to speak to anyone, anywhere, anytime, anyhow (as long as the receiver cares to listen) is going to stay, probably in some form that resembles blogging.

"blog reader-program development has ceased"

Shoot: someone forgot to tell the developers of Gruml and Byline. Alternatively, someone isn't paying much attention.

Regarding Twitter, I like the comment in Why I don’t use Twitter: “What can be said in 140 characters is either trivial or abridged; in the first case it would be better not to say it at all, and in the second case it would be better to give it the space it deserves.”

Posted by Jake at October 1, 2009 11:17 AM

I think you're quite wrong on this one. Just because blogging has ceased to be the fad of the hour does not mean blogging is dead. Maybe it is now difficult or near impossible to find an audience of millions, but even that is probably still easier than landing a job as the New York Times managing editor. There might be no easy way to make money at it anymore (if there ever was) but what has not changed is that a blog can be whatever the blogger wants it to be. Blogging can fit into your life as much or as little as you like.

I'm inclined to agree with Jake: blogging has matured. Even if wordpress should close down their free site hosting tomorrow, they've thoughtfully provided us with a home version, so we will be able to transfer our blogs to our own websites. Until the exploiters actually manage to artificially inflate the internet transaction fees, people will continue to blog.

Because we can.

A blog can be as shallow or as deep as you can make it. Twitter can barely manage shallow, let alone deep, but still it has its own place, and even when it in turn gets discarded by the fad followers, it will probably keep going. After all many people aren't readers or writers. I can't help but chuckle at how typing words on a piece of technology designed to transmit and receive voice communication is somehow considered cool. Maybe that's the same attitude as my mother-in-law's inability to fathom why I would willingly hand grind coffee beans. There's room for us all.

As an older person and young blogger (my blogging is still new enough to be measured in months) I am having too much fun to believe blogging is dead. As long as people can reasonably afford to connect to the internet blogging will keep on.

There have always been "professional attention-sellers" just as there have always been amateur story tellers. Just because people are giving their words away for free does not mean they are valueless. I've actually read more of less value in some of the "pro" blogs. Maybe its because the "amateurs" actually care. We do it for love.

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm at October 1, 2009 03:56 PM

Barry: But the "transform" was just musical chairs among media gatekeepers.

Crosbie: "pay good money for good art"??? What audience pays for blogs?

Karl: But I *do*, though "attention" not as in celebrity, but rather being heard. That was the con-game of (individual) blogging.

skeptik: Irony, meta-ness, paradox, I know them all.

Shelley: "Conversation" was always a scam - but audience, or lack thereof, is real.

Jake: Note the mention above about the problem of reading uncharitably ("There's a predictable reaction to articles like these - reading it absurdly as saying nobody would ever post again ...")

Laurel: No. This blog can't be a means by which I can effectively defend myself against attacks from those more powerful than me, no matter how much I want it to be. I'm not much interested in chat - if you are, fine, but I'm not wrong because I don't find that sufficient.

Sometimes I think I should write up a FAQ. But nobody would read it (sigh, to be pedantic, it would be futile in terms of the goal of replying).

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at October 2, 2009 05:04 AM

Seth, the audience that pays a blogger to write is the audience that CAN pay and that WANTS to pay for their good work.

I'm working on the 'can' bit. Bloggers such as yourself are doing grand work on the 'want' bit. :)

NB Paying a blogger to write, to produce intellectual work, is a completely different value proposition to paying a publisher for copies of an intellectual work (that they've previously paid a blogger to write).

As I commented here, we're looking at a paradigm inversion:
from 'distribution of artist's work to audience for their money'
to 'distribution of audience's money to artist for their work'.

It's the same exchange, but inverted as if in a mirror. Just as feasible, but a curiously indigestible concept (I find very few who have the stomach for it, let alone the cognitive ability to grok it).

Posted by Crosbie Fitch at October 2, 2009 11:22 AM

Seth, so tell me, were you heard on this post?

Or what it that you were not heard by those you want to hear you?

There's a massive difference in that distinction.

Posted by Karl at October 4, 2009 07:21 PM

nice post, btw :D

Posted by skeptik at October 5, 2009 11:57 PM

"blog reader-program development has ceased" - no, but it has largely gone mainstream, from special purpose blog-readers into email and web clients.

Posted by MJ Ray at October 6, 2009 03:34 AM


Sigh ... mini-FAQ:

Q: When I say "blog", I mean it in sense "X" (e.g. personal diary).
A: OK, but this post was about "blog" in sense "Y" (e.g. individual voice with significant media impact).

Q; But many people are still writing diaries!
A: See answer to last question.

Q: There's value in people's efforts even if they aren't A-listers.
A: But there's no significant audience for those Z-listers.

Q: Well, I'm happy just to chat with my friends.
A: How nice for you. Others aren't. And they aren't wrong to be unhappy.

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at October 6, 2009 06:21 AM

This is obviously true for blogs that cover mainstream comment (especially mainstream comment that still has value someone might pay for i.e. inside politics etc.).

"Ordinary" bloggers still may be doing alright in niche areas.

For example, I am a fan of horror movies, books, comics etc. This is a genre that really has no traction in the mainstream media. What professional horror media there is (several websites and magazines) do not currently have bloggers in the way big MSM newspapers, for example, now use them. So there are still networks of bloggers like the ones that used to exist in the larger web a few years ago.

If you surveyed other areas with niche appeal, you might find the same thing. Though I wonder where the line might be drawn between amateur and pro blogs. For example, I'm sure there are lots of cat blogs. But is there a professional cat media (cat magazines etc.) that have taken them over?

Something to ponder.

Posted by Simon at October 17, 2009 08:04 PM

I would like to point out that both of the references you use in support of your contention that "blogging is dying" are mainstream media outlets. Their perception on the merits of blogging may be skewed; they see blogging solely as a vehicle for monetization of content, and tend to ignore all other purposes for blogging.

It may well be that the viability of blogging as a means to make money is, in fact, coming to a close, at least for the moment. It could be, in fact, argued that this is a good thing.

Posted by Kelly Martin at October 26, 2009 08:14 PM

Simon: There's definitely professional cat media (.e.g "Cat Fancy" magazine). It's a well-known publishing niche (along with dogs, horses, etc). I don't follow it, but I don't see any reason for it to be immune to general influences. Note I'm not saying fanzines are dead - they're eternal.

Kelly: The issue is whether the objective measurement is accurate, because I was trying to get away from the cool-bloggers-vs-old-MSM framework.

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at October 28, 2009 10:06 AM