Blogs are dying (except this one, of course)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Economist asks if blogs are dying now that life online revolves around Facebook and Twitter:

Now traffic to two of the most popular blog-hosting sites, Blogger and WordPress, is stagnating, according to Nielsen, a media-research firm. By contrast, Facebook’s traffic grew by 66% last year and Twitter’s by 47% ...

... People are not tiring of the chance to publish and communicate on the internet easily and at almost no cost. Experimentation has brought innovations, such as comment threads, and the ability to mix thoughts, pictures and links in a stream, with the most recent on top. Yet Facebook, Twitter and the like have broken the blogs’ monopoly.

I've been saying this for a long time (my letter of grievance to the Economist is already in the mail), based on my personal experience. I started blogging when that was the only quick and easy publishing platform available. I used my blog for relaying personal anecdotes, posting links, writing political screeds, and generally letting my mother know I was still alive. But once I started using Twitter, the blog seemed clunky and redundant, especially since I could do it so easily from my phone.

A blogger used to be able to sustain an audience around the mundane details of a personal life. People read a blog like that because they were friends, or got a voyeuristic thrill from peeking in on a stranger's life. But now we do that on Facebook and Twitter. Blogs are no longer the place for unorganized, stream of consciousness updates (Tumblr is the perfect place for that now, in my opinion). But blogs are still a great platform for writing about specific topics, your usual suspects like politics, sports, cooking, and hobbies, where you need a platform flexible enough for long text, photos, comments, etc. A blog is more like a formal publication now, with a well-defined mission.

Most importantly for people who might be reading this post though, blogs are still a valuable tool for writers. A blog is a perfect place to post essays, stories, and not-quite-finished ideas, both as a way to market yourself as a writer and simply encourage the writing process. For sheer technical reasons of word count, social networking can never replace that.