You knew it was only a matter of time before a mainstream media organization got one of its reporters to write a story that blogging is a fad, and all will be right again. Well, here is it – compliments of Cox News Service, which picked the SXSW conference as the news peg. According to the story, thousands of blogs are being abandoned as people lose interest. Technorati’s Dave Sifry is quoted as saying that he expects the number of blogs to peak at 100 million before they level off to 30 million eventually. Meanwhile, Gartner is cited as suggesting there are 200 million abandoned blogs in cyberspace, and that 2007 will be the year blogging peaked.
Interesting stuff. My initial reaction was “well, that’s bullshit” but, upon reflection, maybe it’s true and maybe the consolidation of the blogosphere is a good thing. What? How can a blog network executive be content with the idea of his industry shrinking? Don’t get me wrong, blogging is a wonderful communications medium that has shaken up the media landscape. The barriers to entry are low, and anyone can be a published writer within minutes. Because it’s so easy to become a blogger, millions of people have become bloggers but have little or nothing insightful to say. That’s not a bad thing but it’s like going to a hot dance club only to find the place is jammed with people just standing around or just shuffling their feet and thinking they’re dancing.
The other thing about blogging, which often receives little attention, is it’s hard work. It’s easy to write on a regular basis but writing insightful and/or interesting posts is hard work and time-consuming. If you want to blog well, you’ll got to make a serious investment in the process. That’s why politicians, business executives, rock stars, athletes and celebrities don’t blog or don’t blog well. It also explains why many blogs are started with a rush of enthusiasm and excitement only to be abandoned a few days, weeks or months later. Meanwhile, many blogs are orphaned because bloggers move on to other projects. (Personally, I’ve got three blogs that have fallen off the wayside in the past year while I continue to write three on a regular basis).
The consolidation of the blogosphere could be a positive thing because it will provide more liebesraum for blogs that are well written but struggling for attention or more attention. Truth be told, too many bloggers are going through the motions because they want to participate in the conversation. But you can tell they’re not really into it. The telltale signs are blogs that aren’t regularly updated, blog “posts” that consist of a single, sentence and a highlighted paragraph or two from another blog or a news story, and posts that provide no insight, comment or personal flair. While I’m not aiming to be too critical, the blogosphere would be better off if many of these blogs disappeared.
The reality is the blogosphere is already starting to evolve. Just as everyone rushed to publish a newsletter 200 years ago in Europe, blogging has suddenly been the thing to do. But after the initial euphoria, reality and life come into play. One thing I’m seeing is that more good bloggers and high-quality writers want to get paid for their work. They’re no longer content to just attract an audience or build their brands or participate in the conversation; good bloggers are looking at blogs as part-time or full-time jobs and, as a result, want to be shown the money.
None of these developments – abandoned blogs, fewer blogs, professional blogs – should be seen a bad thing. Instead, it shows the blogosphere is quickly growing up.
Fore more thoughts on whether blogs are a fad (or not), check out JS Media Blog and this excellent post written in December 2005 by Below the Fold, which really gets to the heart of blogs and blogging. Another take on the “evolution” of blogger is Twitter, which has become all the rage in the past couple of weeks – much like Mybloglog had its moment in the sun shortly before it was acquired by Yahoo. So what is Twitter? It’s been described as a micro-blog that lets people know what you’re doing and where you are at any given moment. To be honest, it sounds way to Big Brother-ish for me.