Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The reports of blogging's death are highly exaggerated

I think there are some interesting conversations going on right now re: the "Is blogging dead (and mostly because of Twitter)?" meme.

I was quoted in a Fast Company story about this as saying that each has their place...and that “blogs continue to be the place where people introduce, explore and discuss events in their lives, ideas in their minds and the causes they care about.”

While the geek digerati may occasionally be self-obsessed navel gazers who overestimate their own importance in the scheme of the blogosphere, they are certainly having an interesting conversation about just this subject (again) right now.

Some links:

Francine Hardaway rocks my world with a post entitled: "Jason Calcanis, I Love You, But You Are Wrong"

There's so much good stuff I'm having trouble finding the key excerpt, but I do think she makes a fresh point here:
"You guys who get a lot of traffic and have tried to monetize your blogs directly have asked for the trolls. In the early days, you link-loved, link-baited, and trackbacked yourselves to death. YOU established the conventions for what constitutes successful blogging by starting and fomenting the bitch-memes during the dull times. Now you have angry mobs shaking their verbal fists at you, but you stirred them up."

I'm not exactly a blame-the-victim gal...I mean no one is responsible for really bad behavior but the person exhibiting it. Still, it's valid to say that certain sites and online communities get exactly the kind of environment they foster and allow. Complaining about it later is, at the very least, not showing much 20-20 hindsight.

Then, Mike Arrington stirs the pot and gets even more personal by telling Robert Scoble he needs an intervention over his FriendFeed addiction:

Key excerpt:
"So lots of people follow Robert on those services, but they aren’t visiting his site and the content he writes is on someone else’s server. Plus all that content is just really forgettable, compared to a good thought piece that people refer back to over time. There is no direct way to monetize any of that content, which is something that a full time blogger with a family really needs to think about.
Meanwhile, all this attention from Robert has certainly helped the valuations of Friendfeed and Twitter. How much of that value does Robert receive? Zilch."

Scoble, of course, responds...and with a blog post even!

He lists the pros and cons of blogging less and mega-chatting more. You'll have to read his list yourselves to see if you agree or to judge how you weight the pros and cons he lists against each other.

Finally, Steve Rubel has his own take:

Key excerpt:
"In 2009 I think we're going to see a lot of the old guard return to their roots - their blogs. The reason is home field advantage. Why build build Twitter or Friendfeed's equity, when you can invest in the turf you spent so much time on? That said, there are tremendous advantages to doing all of the above.
Louis Gray, Chris Brogan and Jeremiah Owyang all seem to have the right model. They do it all. How, I don't know but they do. I have been blogging more lately too. I missed writing long form. My roof has a leak and I am fixing it. Scoble should do the same and I bet he will.

I wrote a post on this earlier this year: Should You Rent or Buy Social Real Estate. The answer - both. But ask first which helps pay the bills. In my case it's my blog. Twitter and Friendfeed are steroids.

As personal branding becomes a weapon in a down economy, look for blogging to make a return run."

The interesting thing is that I don't follow any of these last three guys very closely anymore, and certainly not very passionately. Their work has become less and less relevant to my daily life. I scan their stories in my feed reader, and have certainly noticed how Steve and Robert barely blog anymore. Because I am a Twitter/FriendFeed participant, but by no means an addict who must keep track of everyone's river of information and opinion, I've lost touch with the people who rely mostly on that as their means of expression.

This is a macro conversation worth reading, and I think Steve is right that more and more bloggers are going to think long and hard, and ask themselves these questions:

-What fulfills the goals I have for my online presence?
-What serves my long-term plan?
-What delivers short-term value?
-How do I weigh the different answers and decide what to prioritize?
-Perhaps most importantly: what does not deserve the mental space and hours in the day that I've giving it?

I know that some people will abandon their blogs for a mega-chat life.

But I do think 2009 will see many people return to their online roots: Blogging and reading their online community's blogs.

Friendfeed and Twitter are for people who don't have the patience or the ability or the time to develop a concept. They are ephemeral. But blogs live on. Just this week I discovered a post I did in 2002 about business behavior that is similar to what's being exhibited now in the Madoff swindle.
I agree Francine.

I also had this thought re: the ephemeral nature of the twittersphere: Robert refers to being able to show his numbers of followers as a concrete metric of his value, more concrete he implies, than pageviews on his blog. However, a page view means that person actually checked out that page. Whereas I can tell you that, as one of Robert's twitter followers, he is one among 500 other people I follow...most of whose tweets I never actually see because I cannot keep up with the river of information.

So I'm pretty sure I don't agree with Robert's contention that a follower is of more concrete value than a page view.
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