Blogging Is Dead Just Like the Web Is Dead

17 Comments

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

17 Comments

Jonathan Kidder

Well said. The web and blogging are not dying people are just changing preferences. I’m also an avid twitter user. I use tweets to communicate instead of writing paragraphs for blog posts..

Eric Kauschen

I personally think that people with a talent for writing and experience is why the older crowd is blogging. Younger people don’t have the knowledge, experience or the patiences to keep something going for very long. I myself personally would like to see the word blogger go away as it has become equated with amateur writers. I do my best to try not to refer to my website as a blog because to me it’s more than that. It incorporates video and photo galleries as well as audio interviews. I also developed a mobile web app for the site as well and I’m giving people an experience that’s more than just your average “blogger.”

kassia

blogs can be really interesting, but only the really serious ones, and these i don’t even consider to be blogs. if you have enough followers to be a legitimate resource, you’ve moved out of the blogosphere. and if you only have a few followers, it’s more like an online diary. that’s why twitter is nice – people can blog, but if you follow them you don’t have to read on and on about everything they’re doing. 140 characters, that’s it.

bigyaz

Way to take something the original story never said — “blogging is dying” — and then argue that blogging isn’t dying and ridiculing the original story for saying that.

Weak.

Ozio Media

Great response! I definitely agree with your post that blogging is in fact not dying but evolving. The NYT article is an excellent example of using “shock value” to promote content. I think more people were alarmed with the idea that blogging could indeed be dead more so than whether or not it is actually dead.

Rick from Locksmith Dispatch Software

It has pretty much been covered by the other comments. The young kids have moved on to Twitter and Facebook. Which is fine for short thoughts and general information sharing, that would be hard to fill up a worthy blog post with.

Nick B.

I saw the article by the NYTimes as well and thought it was odd that they were somewhat contradictory. I agree with the fact that blogging is simply changing. Facebook and Twitter are now available for the quick thoughts; when people have something to say that takes a bit more time, they switch to Tumblr.

Additionally, new blogs are probably going to become rarer in the business world because most businesses have adapted already. Although they might not have every social media tool, most have a Facebook, Twitter, and blog. So, the growth rate will probably decline steadily because we’ve seen such a boom in blogging the last couple of years.

eideard

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.

Tennyson

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

Norman Rogers

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.

Robert Hempaz, PhD. Trichometryâ„¢

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. Trichometryâ„¢

Swapan Pradhan

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.

C. Enrique Ortiz

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

AK

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?

Comments are closed.