The Death of Blogs
There has been quite a bit of buzz around the Internet lately about the death of blogs. This discussion is fueled in part by the recent departure of some high profile bloggers from the blogosphere. The irony of this discussion, of course, is that much of it is occurring on blogs.
Fallen! Fallen! Oh, how the mighty BLOG has fallen!
The arguments that blogs are dead usually center around several key points.
- The growth of high-traffic, high-profile, multi-author blogs destroys any hope for the average individual blogger to be discovered and gain any meaningful audience.
- Newer forms of social media, like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr make the need for personal blogs obsolete.
- The never-ending comment spam, coupled with comments from obnoxious readers, simply require too much energy and time.
These observations are completely accurate based on my experience with blogs and the Internet.
The Trouble with Blogs
Comment spam and obnoxious people hiding behind the pseudo-anonymity of the Internet serve to deter many people from starting or continuing their blog. Even when the comments are not spam it is hopelessly frustrating to see an endless stream of comments that prove the person leaving the comment did not bother to actually read the article before firing off a comment.
The advent and rapidly growing popularity of multi-author blogs and high-traffic blog networks make it very difficult for the new blogger to gain any significant audience or to achieve reasonable search engine placement. Further, multi-author blogs are able to deliver quantity of content due to multiple authors and quality of content by having multiple authors with different specialties. The average solo blogger simply cannot compete against mega-blogs and sites like Wikipedia for search rankings and traffic.
Are Blogs Really Dead
The question must be asked though – are blogs really dead? Is there really no future on the Internet for blogs?
Nothing lasts forever – especially on the Internet! However, blogs have redefined how people communicate, obtain and interact with news, and even elect presidents (in the US). Blogs have become an integral part of the Internet landscape and it is certainly hard to imagine them going away any time soon. Blogs (to use the term loosely) have further become an entrenched part of the Internet as blog platforms like WordPress have increasingly seen double duty as both blog platform and CMS. WordPress is my blog platform of choice and my CMS of choice because of the power and flexibility of the program. So where does the blog end and the CMS site begin?
I suspect that part of the problem is that blogs were overhyped as the ultimate solution to online publishing. This situation is reminiscent of the dot.com boom of a decade ago. The technology was (and is) destined to become a major player in the emerging Internet economy – but the hype needed to be tempered by reality.
Blogs Still Have a Pulse
Despite the challenges associated with blogging I believe the humble blog is not really dead. I suspect we will witness a continued evolution of blogs for some time as blogs continue to be integrated into the Web fabric. For instance, many CMS-powered websites now also have an integrated blog. Many social media sites also offer integrated blogs for their users. Blogs as we know them may eventually decrease in popularity as newer forms of the blog emerge but the blog is not likely to be buried any time soon.
Comment spam is a significant problem for bloggers. Anti-spam measures can help (Akismet, etc.) but are always an imperfect solution as spammers continue to develop new methods to beat the filters. Comments can also be disabled or restricted to registerd users. Some social media fans will chafe at this suggestion but, for many sites, this is the best solution to the spam and unwanted comment problem.
Multi-author blogs do present a formidable challenge to new bloggers. Competing for search engine placement against established mega-blogs is a tough challenge. However, this does not mean that it is not possible to compete with established blogs and websites. The blog does level the playing field and provides a voice to anyone willing to invest the required work to make it happen. Blogging in the context of an established network (HubPages, Squidoo, and Associated Content are a few examples) provides a free and easy way to blog while taking advantage of the traffic of an established network. This can greatly increase a new blogger’s traffic and exposure. New bloggers can also compete by focusing on a niche, by writing in a unique voice, or by providing a perspective or information other similar blogs do not provide. Competing with a mega-blog is somewhat like a mom and pop store competing with WalMart. Many small operations will not succeed because they fail to differentiate themselves sufficiently to build a loyal customer base. Independent blogs, like independent stores, can always deliver unique value to their customers.
What’s Next After Blogs
What is next in the world of social media? What will replace the venerable personal blog? The transition appears to already be underway. Social media sites like Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Delicious, and a host of others, offer a synthesis of photos, videos, blogs, status updates – in other words, lifestreaming. Blogs are optimized around text rather than multimedia and, while it is now possible to integrate a variety of multimedia into a personal blog, many people find the technical challenges too great. Social media sites facilitate the integration of mulitmedia into a personal web portal – usually at no cost to the user.
The most recent trend that I have seen in social media is toward convergent media. There are several social sites now providing convergent media services. I have recommended YUDU several times recently as a great example of a convergent media site. The idea of convergent media is that multiple types of media are all hosted in one online space, including text, pictures, audio files, video files, and web bookmarks. This appears to be the direction that personal blogging is headed. Lifestreaming is an obvious trend but is based on collecting various posts, videos, photos, etc., from a variety of sites to display them all in one place. Convergent media sites like YUDU, on the other hand, allow users to collect all of this together in one place to begin with rather than posting in different places and then needing to stream the various media together afterward.
Long Live the Blog
Blogs provide a unique communication and publishing medium that has revolutionized the way the world communicates, shares with friends and family, conducts business, obtains news and information, and even elects presidents. Blogs have become thoroughly integrated into the fabric of the Internet and, as the technology continues to evolve, promise to become even more integrated into the Web. The blog may look different as it evolves and newer forms of social media and convergent media emerge, but it is unlikely that the blog will disappear altogether in the near future.
Are blogs dead? Absolutely not! Are blogs changing as the technology matures and evolves? Absolutely! Blogs may look very different (and may even cease to be called blogs) as the technology matures and evolves and is integrated with newer media forms but, ultimately, blogs are here to stay. The growing popularity of sites like YUDU, Twitter, and Facebook prove that convergent and social media have earned their place on the Internet.
[Link – WIRED]