The Future of Blogging

A recent Pew survey revealed that the popularity of blogging among teens and young adults has declined dramatically from 28 percent to 14 percent from 2006 to 2009. While this wasn’t an exhaustive scientific study, it does reveal a trend that clearly shows that blogging is losing its luster with today’s younger generation. There are many factors that could have contributed to this drastic decline, such as the plethora of real-time communication platforms like social networks, the explosion of gaming platforms (Wii, Playstation, Xbox) and 24/7 access to instant entertainment such as Netflix and Hulu. Regardless of the reasons, the bottom line is that young people are getting bored of traditional blogging.

What’s the Problem?

I think part of the problem with blogs is that they are too static and dull. We need to infuse new life into blogs and make them more dynamic. Just as Flash added a freshness to web sites when it first appeared on the scene, we need to do something that will change the game for blogging.

The other part of the problem involves the incredible shrinking attention span of readers/viewers. Hollywood learned long ago that motion pictures need to reach out and grab the audience right away within the first 10 minutes or else its opening weekend will be its last. That’s why most movies look and feel like music videos these days. Quick cut editing and special effects reign supreme. Even the publishing industry has taken its queue from the movie industry and insist that its authors write tighter and more exciting stories.

What’s the Answer?

I believe the answer could be the same one that’s being touted as the potential savior of newspapers and magazines: The Apple iPad and similar devices, plus the new digital newsstand that it will usher in. Yes, I am suggesting that we look at blogs the same way we look at newspapers and magazines. It’s not a coincidence that many blogs have experienced increased subscriptions after changing to a more magazine-styled theme. Imagine providing your content in a more dynamic and exciting manner, like Wired’s demo iPad app:

Kiss Your RSS Goodbye?

Some pundits predict that subscribing to RSS feeds will become obsolete, thanks to technology such as PuSH (PubSubhubbub) and the proliferation of mobile applications. This could be why many blogging professionals have already started making their blogs available as iPhone apps. Their reasoning is that they want their work to be accessible and available to as many people as possible, and if it means porting it to a new platform, then so be it. The good news is that these same iPhone apps will also work on the iPad. Another factor in the increase of “blogs as apps” is the continuing decline in the cost of having an application developed. Pretty soon, releasing your own app will become as common as launching a blog.

Content is Still King

I’m not suggesting that glitz and glamor are better than substance and message. On the contrary, I firmly believe content will always remain the most important aspect of any blog, newspaper or magazine. I’m just saying that we cannot ignore the obvious truth of today’s readers and viewers. We cannot stick our heads in the sand and hope that the quality of our content alone will win the day. We need to deliver our best work (be it blog post, article, movie, book, etc.) in the best packaging available if we want to give it a chance to be consumed/digested and, ultimately, appreciated.

The new generation of mobile devices such as the iPad and other tablet computers will become ubiquitous and will help us deliver our message in exciting new ways. We should not lament this changing of the guard; instead we should embrace it and adapt to it, and take our blogging to new heights.

What do you think? Could iPads and similar devices usher in a new age of blogging?

Related GigaOM Pro content (sub. req.):

Web Tablet Survey: Apple’s iPad Hits Right Notes

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