It’s coming folks.
It is inevitable.
Just as the sun rises in the morning and sets in the evening it is coming.
It is the event that over a period of time; which I believe has already started, when blogs – both big and small will fall by the wayside. We see this happen on a regular basis but it is nothing like what we will see over the next year. The type of die off we normally see is those that were started by folks looking to trying something new but for whatever the reason the commitment to stick with it just wasn’t there. This type of die off isn’t the one I am referring to here though.
I foresee that 2008 will experience one of the largest declines of professional style blogs and the serious non-professional blogs to date. There are a few reasons I believe this but primarily it will be because of two major shifts in the social web interaction. Some will bemoan these shifts but others like myself will look forward to them.
First we have to look back almost 10 years by some accounts as to when blogging first came on the scene and how it was looked upon by the majority as a form of self-gratifying self-expression that served no other purpose than to inflate people’s egos. Between then and now that attitude for the large part has changed as blogging has both become considered as a professional career for some and a necessary ingredient for companies of all kinds to be able to interact with their customers.
As well the blogging profession has had to learn to deal with things like splogs and scrapers trying to earn free money on the backs of hard working writers. They have had to deal with the same laws that their predecessors in Old Media have dealt with for as long as their has been the written word. Unlike the members of the Old Media – who were also being into a position of having to deal with and become a part of the New Media – these new journalists and editorialists were discovering how tenuous their own future really is.
In many ways the two shifts that I see forever changing the blogging landscape are so intertwined that in many cases they appear as one. I suggest though that even with this closeness that one without the other would not have resulted in the shift we are seeing. To see how these two things have changed; and will continue to change the landscape we have to look at why people got into blogging in the first case.
Considering that blogging can be pretty well be broken down into three different types. The first is obviously the professional blogger who is doing this as a career and a way to produce an income. The second is serious blogger who while not doing it to produce an income feels that they are contributing to a larger conversation. The third is the casual blogger who typically uses their blog to talk about a wide variety of things – whether it be about their life or the things that are going on around them.
Amongst all this we suddenly had things like Twitter appear on the scene that let people broadcast what is going on in their life and in many cases receive instant feedback. For people in the third group of blogging this was much more rewarding than typing away on their blogs where chances of them being read was slim. So tie this in with the surge of interest in things like MySpace and later Facebook and many of these casual bloggers no longer had a reason to have a blog. Whatever their needs of self-expression or diary keeping might have been it was now easily met with more immediate means than having a blog and hoping people would find it.
Even among the serious non-professional bloggers this idea of immediacy and easier discovery using things like friends or contacts made using Twitter and other social networks was a strong drawing card. In this group of bloggers I can see future forms of social media much like FriendFeed being added incentive to move away from the blogging format. That doesn’t mean that we won’t always have a hardcore contingent of serious non-professional bloggers I just don’t think that their numbers will be the same and neither will they grow in numbers as they have in the past.
This last group though – the career or professional blogger – is much harder to figure out what the road forward is because many times they throw up so many mix messages because I think in some cases they are confused themselves as to where the road is leading. Part of this feeling adrift in a sea of technology is partly the making of the group most commonly referred to as the early adopters. While it was this group for the most part that were to grasp the power that blogs cold hold they are also the one’s that are easily swayed by the next new shiny object syndrome.
These thought leader – the ones that lead us into this new age of citizen journalism are themselves unsure of what is the road forward in many cases. A good example of this is a couple of posts by Fred Wilson in the last few days. In the first called A post a day he suggests that blogging is coming to an end
I’ve posted every day for almost five years. Its a routine and a habit that’s hard to break
But today, I’ve got nothing to say that’s blog worthy
I’ve twittered six or seven times and posted three times on tumblr
I think its time to acknowledge that long form blogging every day may be coming to an end
But then today he suggests that comments can be blog posts
Here’s the thing. I get comments every day on my blog that are as good as any blog posts I see on the web. And they are stuck behind the comments link. They need to be on the front page, not on the back page.
What Tim and I did needs to become more prevalent. Comments are often way more insightful than blog posts. That’s because there are a lot of super smart people who for one reason or another don’t or cant’ blog. But they can comment and do so actively.
Even with all this seeming confusion over where blogging is going there is still a core of both professional and non-professional bloggers who truly see a long term value for the medium. Whether then end up as some sort of new media conglomerate like TechCrunch, Mashable or ReadWriteWeb or just a bunch of really good independent bloggers the point is things are changing.
The trick for many of us – especially the independent bloggers and smaller networks – is to be willing to take advantage of anyway that comes our way to communicate with our readers. We can’t be afraid of changes as they happen but instead embrace them and use them to our benefit.
Blogging is changing. There is no doubt about that. The question is are we ready for it and are we willing to flow with those changes or will we end up in the weed pile somewhere.
Me… I’m looking forward to whatever changes come along.
How about you?
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