Sunday, January 01, 2012

PSA: Blogging is not just what *you* do.

As the year draws to an end, it stirs a natural impulse to review and reflect. Analyze and assess. And being human, and therefore naturally self-absorbed, it is also natural to make the most common of blogging faux pas. it goes like this:

I used to have a joke: Everyone thinks "real" blogging is how *they* blog.

Today my joke would be: Everyone thinks that how their own blogging has evolved is how all of blogging has evolved.

The posts about the end of tech blogging as we know it. The posts about returning to blogging, unsatisfied by the snack-sized communication in other forums. You may have read them, but then again, maybe you haven't. It's entirely possible that such posts were written in the echo chamber of other old-timey bloggers like me, who are often mostly paying attention to each other!

So, here are two data points to chew on.

1. According to comScore, the aggregate traffic to "blogs" has increased year over year the past two years at the same rate as the aggregate traffic to "social networks". Now, I get that "social networks" probably is made up of Facebook and a handful of other sites, while "blogs" represents hundreds of thousands of sites, but the point remains: Blog reading is up (and likely ever more disaggregated across the long tail). But this may not be visible to early blog proponents.

Check out Slide 7 of BlogHer's 2011 annual social media study for the comScore stat for the previous twelve months.
You can also check out Slide 8 of BlogHer's 2010 annual social media study for the same comparison for the previous twelve months, but be forewarned, that's a big ole' PDF file.

2. According to Pew, it's entirely true that teenagers don't blog anymore, and adult Millennials show a slight decline in blogging. But every older generation, GenX, Boomer and Senior, shows an increased rate of blogging. (In fact, blogging has increased overall for adults 18+.)

Some have proclaimed this to mean that blogging is dying, but I think it means something quite different: We simply have better tools now for small talk and chatter and transactional connections and activity. Remember how everyone used to joke about not wanting to read blogs because they didn't care what you had for lunch? Well, that joke's about Twitter now. And Facebook. And so on.

[Side note and off my main point: I think we *do* care what our friends had for lunch. And what the weather is like where they are. And how their mood is in general. That's called small talk, and humans do it. We do it in person, and we do it online.]

I think it's pretty natural that as your life goes on, and inevitably gets more complicated, that you look for more outlets for self-expression and more ways to codify your life. Some of those complications may be about career...advancing your career by advancing your ideas. Some of those complications may be about personal life...more relationships, from partners to children to in-laws to parents. Some of those complications may be about the world...more opinions, more passions, more causes.

So, simple stuff has a better outlet now, and it's not blogging (and in case you haven't noticed, it has a real tendency to get broadcast-y...Twitter, I'm talking to you!). I've said it before, and I'll say it again now: Blogging remains the place where substantive conversations can and do happen.

Blogging isn't dying, nor being reborn. Blogging is steady as she goes.

It just may not be where you're used to looking for it. And it may not be about the same things, or by the same people you're used to reading.

The 2005 exhortation to look for new voices that spurred the founding of BlogHer is just as relevant today. Widen your circle, you might be surprised!

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