Is blogging dead?

Going by the frequency of posting on this blog recently, you could be forgiven for thinking so. I have the usual excuses, pressure of work etc, plus the impending evacuation of me and mine from our house due to flooding. But that’s all by-the-by.

The question was posed by John Band after he wrote his reflections on the riots and got a much higher number of hits than usual. He noted:

The odd thing, though, is that whenever I’ve written a piece in the past that has gained masses of attention, it’s been through links from bigger blogs, news sources, or occasionally forums. This time, as far as I can see from my logs, there haven’t been *any* blog links to the piece. All the traffic is coming from retweets and reshares on Twitter and Facebook.

I wouldn’t go quite as far as to say that blogs are dead as a medium: the existence of a self-publishing platform with a fairly powerful off-the-shelf CMS, and that isn’t restricted to a particular social network, remains useful.

But it’s looking like the sense in which we’ve traditionally understand blogs – roughly, a community of people who link to each other’s posts, comment on them, and write pieces that track back to them – no longer really applies. Facebook and Twitter have killed it, in favour of something flatter and much less based on the blogger’s personal brand.

I said something very similar exactly a year ago. Since then, the pattern has been much the same. This blog has increased its traffic over the past year yet the number of comments is much lower than it was two or three years ago. Much of the conversation has moved onto Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Does this mean that blogging is dead? Well it is certainly different from how it was when I set this blog up in 2007.  People don’t comment as much any more and I don’t walk around my favourite blogs regularly, like I once did. I wait for things to appear on Twitter and then comment on them. The publicity for blogging and the conversations that get posts started come increasingly from Twitter and other platforms.

Having said that, without blogging, Twitter is completely pointless for me. Most of the people I follow on Twitter are people who write stuff elsewhere, be they bloggers or ‘proper’ journalists (and the line between the two is becoming blurred). To get what someone says in 140 characters, I need to know where that person is coming from. If I have read their blogs then I understand their tweets. With a few exceptions, the most interesting people on Twitter write longer stuff elsewhere. Twitter is a platform for publicising good articles, either your own or other people’s, and discussing your initial reactions. The same is true of LinkedIn and Facebook discussions. Without the initial blogs to start them off, the discussions are anodyne and unfocused.

Blogging forces you to put some effort into understanding your material and constructing a reasoned argument. Most bloggers, even the ones who irritate the hell out of me, usually have something interesting and thought-provoking to say, some of the time. The fact that we have to put some thought into our posts acts as a brake on our more idiotic tendencies.

Not so with Twitter. You don’t have to put any effort in at all. Twitter allows any know-nothing to make up a name for himself and start writing whatever he likes. There is not enough room for proper challenge in 140 characters so people end up shouting at each other like children in a playground. The result is a torrent of asinine fuckwittery. If you don’t believe me, try following the Twitter streams on Question Time or, worse, Sunday Morning Live. Needless to say, I don’t follow the fuckwits but I know they are there.

Without blogging, or some other platform for publishing good, well thought out opinions, I wouldn’t bother with Twitter. For me, Twitter and Facebook are shop windows but, unless people have something decent to display in their windows, I’m not interested.

I don’t think blogging is dead but I think it has changed since John and I were blogger lads. If anything I’m a little more optimistic than I was when I wrote my last rant a year ago. I don’t think Twitter and Facebook have killed blogging because, without it, people would have nothing to discuss in these forums. For the time being, I intend to carry on bashing stuff out on this blog. If and when I stop, I’ll probably pack all the other ‘soshul meeja’ stuff in too.

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9 Responses to Is blogging dead?

  1. Pingback: Is blogging dead? - Rick - Member Blogs - HR Blogs - HR Space from Personnel Today and Xpert HR

  2. I agree that the framework of soshul meeja, within which blogging lies, in in a constant state of flux. The routes by which people arrive at your well reasoned article are many, and ever-changing. Attempting to follow those changes, and adapt to them so that your (or one’s) blog is reaching it’s full potential, and as many eyeballs as possible, is a never ending chore. Becoming an expert in these channels, as well as the SEO to ensure your article gets read before mine, is all very well for a commercial enterprise, but questionable for purveyors of opinion like ourselves.

    For us (and certainly for me), the the core reason for blogging remains a means of expressing oneself, regardless of the audience, and whether they exist or not. When my tree falls down in the forest, it makes a noise because I am there. Should anyone else hear it too, then we have something to talk about.

    Please read my blog. Please? It’s really interesting, and I sometimes swear.

  3. Jan says:

    Thank you! Finally I found a comment on “is blogging dead” which makes sense (because it appeals to what I believe;-)).
    Since I set up my blog project end of last year, I was getting bombarded with voices telling me about the importance of twitter, facebook and the like.
    However, for the same amount of time I have been struggling to extract meaning out of all that Twitter noise and too often brainless Facebook blabla.
    If you have a half-way complex issue which you want to put into words, how on earth can you do that in 140 characters?

    I like my own idea to think of the “new” blogging in terms of a kind of hybrid blogging, where your blog is your home base, having satellites and drones in the social media sphere.

    Anyway: thanks for confirming my own theory😉

  4. Pingback: Idiots On the Left Blog AND I Now Have Another Site! « Idiots On the Left

  5. Doug Shaw says:

    An enjoyable read – made all the better for the inclusion of the fabulous word “fuckwittery”, I slipped that one into a song once🙂

    My experience is one of steady improvement both in terms of visits and comments. It’s not consistent but I seem to be getting occasionally better at sparking a conversation on my blog. I enjoy seeing these conversations emerge and of course I enjoy practicing writing which is why I blog in the first place. I increasingly see my blog as part of a network that links up with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Youtube, Twitpic and other places too. Thanks for making me think about these links and how this stuff does and sometimes does not fit together.

  6. Please don’t go quitting “soshul meeja” any time soon, Rick – the worlds of blogging and of Twitter both need you!

    I think that the position of blogging in the information landscape (for want of a much better word) is continuing to evolve. But that doesn’t mean that blogging is by any means dead, or even starting to look green around the gills.

    Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms offer ways for sharing links to and passing comment on blog posts that are different from the ‘old school’ approach of a community of (ususally) mutually supportive bloggers reading and commenting on one another’s work. But I would say that that is all it is: just different.

    The discipline of blogging itself remains the same – in terms of writing one’s thoughts and opinions in a “weblog” format (preferably to be used as a “platform for publishing good, well thought out opinions.”). And the basic unit of information used in blogging – the blog post – is also unchanged.

    With the speed at which social media are evolving, the coming years will undoubtedly see even more rapid wholesale change in the way in which people find, share and discuss what’s written in blog posts.

    At the moment, blogging itself is unchanged. But that’s not to say it won’t evolve. The discipline of blogging itself might change beyond recognition, too.

    The pace of change definitely takes some getting used to. But it’s nothing to be pessimistic about.

    I’m very interested in your saying that you’re “a little more optimistic” than you were a year ago. What’s behind this change of heart?

  7. Loads of interesting stuff here, which I’ve been mulling over ever since Rick posted this originally.

    I’d agree about Twitter and (especially) FB; there is a multiplicity of reasons why people use them, and neither platform takes that much thought to do casually, even badly (sorry). Blogging requires a bit more integration of thought, on the whole, and cetainly rather more courage or assertiveness.

    So maybe we’re reaching saturation point of some sort for now, re comment responses to blogging. The demography of the UK etc wherever hasn’t changed much over the past two years, but perhaps the percentage of that population who blog has increased, thanks to easier access and web technology; in which case we might expect the ratio of comments to posts might diminish?

    I’m sure there’s more to it than that, but this could be an element of the change, especially given that women – catching up on the IT now – are noted for generally wanting to read stuff on the internet, rather than write it?

    Just a thought, from a woman who does try to write on the web…. And I expect everyone is right, that it’s all going to change again, quickly and repeatedly, anyway.

  8. I don’t know if it’s dead, but I definitely think that other social media platforms have impacted the use of Blogs – Facebook, Twittter and LinkedIn to name a few are attracting bloggers to those platforms.

    But you can’t do on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn what you can do on a blog – they still have their place.

    thanks,
    Jane

  9. Darwin says:

    Blogging’s not dead… it’s just going through some changes. People were born to have their say, so they’ll just find different ways as the technology evolves.

    thanks,

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