Blogging isn’t dead, it’s evolving

There’s been a bit of commentary and opinion in recent weeks that blogging (meaning, written content longer than just a paragraph or two) as we know it is dying or even already dead when compared to the rise of Facebook and Twitter (meaning, very short content like the 140-character posts of Twitter).

It started last month with a new Pew Internet survey in America that some commentators suggest shows blogging is in clear decline as a means of popular online expression.

It doesn’t look that way to me from reading Pew’s survey report. On the contrary, blogging isn’t so much on its deathbed as it is on a continuing evolutionary track:

[…] Only half as many online teens work on their own blog as did in 2006, and Millennial generation adults ages 18-33 have also seen a modest decline—a development that may be related to the quickly-growing popularity of social network sites. At the same time, however, blogging’s popularity increased among most older generations, and as a result the rate of blogging for all online adults rose slightly overall from 11% in late 2008 to 14% in 2010. Yet while the act formally known as blogging seems to have peaked, internet users are doing blog-like things in other online spaces as they post updates about their lives, musings about the world, jokes, and links on social networking sites and micro-blogging sites such as Twitter.

That’s the US picture which, I would guess, is credible to project broadly speaking into other geographies such as the UK.

Then consider this picture – hosted blogging service WordPress.com is growing fast with over 6 million new blogs in 2010 and  pageviews up by 53%.

[…] Media uploads also doubled to 94.5 terabytes of new photos and videos, while new posts were up 110% to 146 million. Meanwhile, mobile WordPress blogging is on the up. The company’s userbase for its mobile apps increased 700% to 1.4 million in 2010.

A good indicator to reinforce the credibility of a view that blogging isn’t dead comes from Anil Dash, a man who knows a thing or two about the development and evolution of blogging and who has an interesting perspective on the role of short-form content tools like Twitter:

[…] Twitter and other stream-based flows of information provide an important role in the ecosystem. Perhaps the most important psychological innovation of Twitter is that it assumes you won’t see every message that comes along. There’s no count of unread items, and very little social cost to telling a friend that you missed their tweet. That convenience and social accommodation is incredibly valuable and an important contribution to the web.

However, by creating a lossy environment where individual tweets are disposable, there’s also an environment where few will build the infrastructure to support broader, more meaningful conversations that could be catalyzed by a tweet. In many ways, this means the best tweets for advancing an idea are those that contain links to more permanent media.

“Links to more permanent media” is the bit that especially grabbed my attention. Twitter (and Facebook, for that matter) is a terrific tool to alert your community and others of more fuller content elsewhere. Syndicating your content to your community, in other words.

No, blogging isn’t dead, it’s simply evolving.

Incidentally, the cartoon you see at the top was drawn in early 2005 by Hugh MacLeod. It spectacularly summed up the sentiment of the time about blogging which, six years ago, was social media. There was even a t-shirt.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Helena makhotlova

    Neville, I absolutely agree with you. Blogging is far from being dead, but taking new cultural forms as media usage among masses (as opposed to early adopters) evolves. In Norway blogging is definitely on the rise, with over 600.000 blogs registered just on Norwegian blogging platform blogg.no. Thats over 10% of the entire population! And that’s not the entire picture.

    Working with digital PR, I have an expression that every girl over here aged 13-18 got a blog. They use it pretty much as a private diary, posting mostly pictures from their daily endeavors. This is an amazing social phenomenon to watch, because the numbers are just unreal. The corporate blogging is also up.

    My best greetings,

    Helena

  2. James Crawford

    When it comes to blogging the shorter the better.

    I don’t like essays on blogs unless the blogger is really very good. Rather, I prefer lots of short links and citations to original source material.

    • neville

      James, if you like shorter blog posts, then I can show you someone who likes longer posts. You prove the point that everyone wants something different. And you can find what you want out there!

  3. Emily Brackett

    I agree with you. There were some people who were blogging who really were looking for a platform that required less effort. However, for many people and businesses, you cannot express a thoughtful article in such a short medium. What if this post was forced to be 140 characters or even a Facebook update? It’s hard to establish yourself as a thought reader without a larger platform to write on.

    My own blog continues to increase in readership and I think it’s because I take the time to write meaningful blog posts.

    • neville

      Good points, Emily, thanks. think everyone can have what they want: what anyone calls a blog can mean one like this one, or like Posterous or Tumblr, Twitter, whatever.

      I still believe content is king, whether it’s 140 characters or 14,000!

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