17 Comments

Summary:

A New York Times story says that blogging is on the decline, especially among young people, who are using social networks like Facebook instead. But blogging is arguably still growing rapidly — it’s just that the form it is taking is evolving in different ways.

3560874221_54e3bf01aa_z

Blogging is on the decline, according to a New York Times story published this weekend — citing research from the Pew Center’s Internet and American Life Project — and it is declining particularly among young people, who are using social networks such as Facebook instead. Pretty straightforward, right? Except that the actual story said something quite different: even according to the figures used by the New York Times itself, blogging activity is actually increasing, not decreasing. And as the story points out, plenty of young people are still blogging via the Tumblr platform, even though they may not think of it as “blogging.” What blogging is really doing is evolving.

The NYT story notes that blogging among those aged 12 to 17 fell by half between 2006 and 2009 according to the Pew report, but among 18 to 33-year-olds it only dropped by two percentage points in 2010 from two years earlier — which isn’t exactly a huge decline. And among 34 to 45-year-olds, blogging activity rose by six percentage points. The story also admits that the Blogger platform, which is owned by Google, had fewer unique visitors in the U.S. in December than it had a year earlier (a 2-percent decline), but globally its traffic climbed by 9 percent to 323 million.

In many ways, this “blogging is dying” theory is similar s to the “web is dead” argument that Wired magazine tried to float last year, which really was about the web evolving and expanding into different areas. It’s true that Facebook and Twitter have led many away from blogging because they are so fast and easy to use, but they have also both helped to reinforce blogging in many ways.

What’s really happening, as Toni Schneider of Automattic — the corporate parent of the WordPress publishing platform (see disclosure below) — noted in the NYT piece, is that what blogging represented even four or five years ago has evolved into much more of a continuum of publishing. People post content on their blogs, or their “Tumblrs,” and then share links to it via Twitter and Facebook; or they may post thoughts via social networks and then collect those thoughts into a longer post on a blog. Blog networks such as The Huffington Post get a lot of attention, but plenty of individuals are still making use of the longer-form publishing abilities that blogs allow.

One of the reasons why Tumblr seems to have taken off, particularly with younger users, is that it is extremely easy to set up and use — but it also offers many of the same real-time sharing options that have become popular with Twitter and Facebook. For example, Tumblr makes it easy for users to follow others and see their content in a “dashboard,” and then with a simple click they can “re-blog” another user’s post, which redistributes it to all their followers in much the same way that a “retweet” does on Twitter.

So what we really have now is a multitude of platforms: there are the “micro-blogging” ones like Twitter, then there are those that allow for more interaction or multimedia content like Facebook, and both of those in turn can enhance existing blogging tools like WordPress and Blogger. And then there is Tumblr, which is like a combination of multiple formats. The fact that there are so many different choices means there is even more opportunity for people to find a publishing method they like. So while “blogging” may be on the decline, personal publishing has arguably never been healthier.

Disclosure: Automattic, the maker of WordPress.com, is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.

Related GigaOM Pro content (sub req’d):

Post and thumbnail courtesy of Flickr user Beverly

  1. I think the people who claim “blogging is dead” are the same who said the “web is dead”. They are just trying to draw attention to themselves. They overlook the fact that things evolve in life, especially in tech (where change happen faster). Personally, I consider Twitter as part of the blogging experience as it is to communication. Sure it’s micro but still blogging somehow… Not only that but it has become so common to see Facebook and Twitter icons on blogs that one can wonder where is the separation?

  2. C. Enrique Ortiz Tuesday, February 22, 2011

    Yes, agree. It is evolving, not dying, for example what you wrote:

    …” or they may post thoughts via social networks and then collect those thoughts into a longer post on a blog.”

    It is right on the spot; I’ve been doing just that recently.

    ceo

  3. Well Said -AK-
    I agree with you on that note, Web and Blog will exist till the end of Information and Technology, they might be revised or upgraded but they will remain.

  4. Robert Hempaz, PhD. Trichometry™ Tuesday, February 22, 2011

    The number of older ‘active’ participants in the process are weeded out daily as more newer ones come into play. In the interim, the tool-kit offered to converse continues to expand. No, it’s a wide ocean out there in cyber-land. The key is to focus your message, and always use #hashtags to monitor your impact. “Stay cryptic, my friends.” Thx for da RT Pls + #lhommeincarcere to all Ur tweets n re-tweets! C=>http://zazzle.com/hempaz* Robert Hempaz, PhD. Trichometry™

  5. That’s why WordPress downloads are increasing every second. http://wordpress.org/download/counter/

    The number so far is 34,057,996.

    With all do respect to Tumblr but they have been more down than up.

  6. Korta klipp – 23 Februari 2011 Tuesday, February 22, 2011

    [...] Blogging Is Dead Just Like the Web Is Dead: Tech News and Analysis « [...]

  7. Exactly right.

    Tumblr, and Posterous in particular, are great tools but you have to invest the time in creating original stuff to put on there. You cannot keep re-blogging your single stream of content. You have to have things you say, things you curate, and things you discover out there on the web and you have to blog in all of these different formats, as originally as possible.

  8. Blogging is evolving, just like old media is evolving. You guys are reactionaries! Cracks me up.

  9. It’s a situation that’s accelerated very quickly among the “hyperlocal” blog set – here in Loudoun County, VA, the meaty blog content is focusing more on commercial, community, political and pseudo-government dialogue, while much more of the lifestyle, social and family content is dispersed into the shorter-form social media….see this article on Loudoun County Blogs…http://loudouncounty.blogspot.com/2011/01/loudoun-blogs-and-bloggers-list.html

  10. Nice article, Mathew. I’m using it as the basis for a post at my personal site. later today.

    Just one of those cranky old geeks who hasn’t left WordPress for instant rewards.

Comments have been disabled for this post