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 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.