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Summary:

With Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and countless other options, blogging isn’t quite what it used to be. I wanted to know what the future of blogging is so I emailed Twitter’s Evan Williams. Here are some of the things he told me.

Former Twitter CEO Evan Williams

evanwilliams.jpgWhen the rumors of Google retiring the Picasa and Blogger brands hit the web last week, it sent me down memory lane. It made me think about blogging in general and how it had evolved. I wanted to write an Om Says newsletter (and I am working on it) and pinged Evan Williams, co-founder of Twitter, and before that, the creator of Blogger, the service that was bought by Google in 2003.

With Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and countless other options, blogging isn’t quite what it used to be. I wanted to know what he thought about the name change (to Google Blogs) and what exactly is the future of blogging. Williams replied to me and I am sharing with you the excerpts of an email he sent me.

I’m guessing if you talked to folks at Blogger or WordPress (see disclosure), they’d say the numbers are bigger than ever, which makes it a difficult case to say classic blogging is gone.I think what’s changed is that “blogging as we knew it” is no longer the easiest way to express oneself online, so it is not the choice for the most casual users.

You have to be a bit more dedicated to blog than to tweet or post on [Facebook] now and then. Maybe that means the active blogging user base is only tens of millions of people, globally, instead of hundreds of millions for these other services.

Regarding the rumored Blogger name change: It’s kinda sad for me and those involved with Blogger, but I can see the argument why it makes sense for Google. The good news is, whatever the name, Blogger is getting better and is not going way.

The saddest part is that the Blogger [b] logo, created by Derek Powazek (later refreshed by Doug Bowman) is one of the best web logos of all time. Hopefully they won’t get rid of that. :)

Williams, who recently joined up with Biz Stone and Josh Goldman to start Obvious Corp, is sad about Blogger, and so are many others. I was an early adopter of the service and then a pro subscriber. It was like Dave Winer’s pioneering Userland product, and a key part of my blogging journey, something I outline in this post, How Ev, Dave, The Trotts & Matt changed my life.

More on that later, but in the interim enjoy these articles from the archives: 

Disclosure: Automattic, 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.

  1. Hi Om :).

    Evan’s second quote really spoke to me. I still blog on a regular basis, but have seen most of my blogging friends give it up for more casual services such as Tumblr.

    While I can appreciate why (ease of use, more instantaneous, potentially more social), I derive great comfort from the freedom and permanency of a blog. Into my seventh year now, and I can’t really think of any social network from when I started that people still use seriously now, to say nothing of what people will be using in the future.

    I suppose it comes down to what your priorities are, and whether you perceive the benefits outweigh the extra work that goes into blogging. Clearly for many, it seems a harder justification to make now.

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  2. I don’t see a compelling reason for Google to change Blogger’s name. The word ‘blogger’ is already a generic word, a common noun. I can see a reason to change the name Picasa to Google Photos. Picasa is a proper noun and for an unfamiliar person, doesn’t immediately reveal the connection to photos. But anybody who hears the word Blogger knows it is about blogging. What huge difference is there between calling it Google Blogger vs Google Blogs?

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    1. AS, would totally agree to that and frankly it is perhaps not a well thought out decision on Google’s part.

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    2. If you could have your name at google.com instead of blogspot.com, I think that will matter to quite a few people. I don’t know if they are going to do that, but I doubt they will keep them at blogspot.com.

      But I agree with him, I noticed in the first 2 days how posts on Google+ looked like a blog post, and an increasing amount of people using it as a blog to share their thoughts. So I could definitely see “personal blogging” switch to Google+ or something similar, where all you need to do to “blog” is start typing.

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  3. I owe a great deal to Ev, Biz, the Trotts and Matt. If it weren’t for blogging, I don’t know where I’d be. It truly changed my life, both personally and professionally.

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    1. Marshall Kirkpatrick Friday, July 8, 2011

      Me too Paul! I can only guess that I’d be in prison or the circus, were it not for all those folks.

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  4. Notice that he mentions “active blogging”. Clearly people are still expressing themselves albeit sometimes in disconnected ways, like FB, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. There still is potential for a service to perhaps present all those things in a cohesive way. What are your thoughts about the Notes in FB that may allow one to keep things public, private, etc.? In my knowledge, that’s the only one that comes closest to blogging.

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  5. I would have to agree with Ev here on this. Blogging as we know it is going away. Facebook, Twitter and now maybe Google+ is going to be the new blogging model. That’s my theory anyway.

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    1. Going away? Did you actually read the article? Both Blogger and WordPress.com have more users now than ever. What he said was that for casual users, Facebook, Twitter and other less involved tools are replacibg blogging. For serious, committed bloggers, blogging is still growing very fast.

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  6. Ya, Blogger [b] logo is really nice logo.

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  7. Would like to see him do something about his hair with the 2nd mkt money he’s hijacking.

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  8. Thanks Om, love the answers from Ev.

    This reminds me of Fred Wilson’s vision for social media, “every single human being posting their thoughts and experiences in any number of ways to the Internet” (http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2008/06/my-vision-for-s.html).

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