Are blogs dying?

This morning I typed the following search string into Google: Are blogs dying?

I thought I might get the odd hit or two but instead found a large number of hits. Many people are apparently asking themselves this very question. If you, like me, are sceptical about the ability of the Web to provide a straight answer to a straight question, then you will be unsurprised to learn that the Web’s answer in this case is a resounding “yes and no”.

Islington's village: Amwell Street
Islington’s village: Amwell Street

What prompted me to pose the question was my own perception that, since I started blogging in September 2006, a change has come over blogs and the blogging community. Writing my first posts, I expected to be a lone scribbler sending his words, unnoticed and unread, into the void. Instead, I very soon found that I was part of a community whose members read and commented on one another’s blogs and carried conversations back and forth, discussing both the profound and the trivial, and enjoying it immensely.

Of course, things did naturally change with time. Blogs, like people, die and new ones are born. Some of my favourite blogs perished and I found new ones to add to my blogroll. It was fun to chase up blogs on other people’s blogrolls while new bloggers often announced themselves by leaving comments on my blog and those that I followed.

Over the last couple of years, however, I have noticed a big change. The number of visits to my blog and the number of comments has decreased (though it has begun to pick up again lately). Good blogs were disappearing faster than I could find new ones to replace them. What was happening: was the blog world dying on its feet? Not according to blog hosts like WordPress, who went on developing their platforms and cheerfully telling us how many hundreds of bloggers were signing up and how many thousands of words they were churning out daily.

On the other hand, when I consulted blog directories, I found that an astonishing number of the blogs listed, even those given the rank “top blogs”, “featured blogs” or some such accolade, where dead, their most recent posts dating to months or years before. Why, I wondered, would blog directories give prominent ranking to dead blogs? Could it be that they were finding it ever more difficult to replace them with quality live ones?

As time passed, I also noticed that a number of bloggers of my acquaintance had switched their allegiance, first to Facebook and then to Twitter. Some managed to maintain both but all too often, it was “F & T” that absorbed the major part of their energy to the detriment of their blogs.

“F & T” have their place in the scheme of things, I agree, and some people put them to good and even noble use, but they are not blogging, nor should they be thought of as such, any more than writing a pamphlet to advertise the local museum should be thought of as writing a history book. They are one form of self-expression and blogging is an entirely different form. Give me leave, however, to feel sad when a good blogger abandons blogging for this other activity.

Looking at the matter from another angle, however, “F & T” might even be a blessing to Blogworld. This is because I think that before their advent, many people started blogs who were not really bloggers at heart. It was all that was available to them in order to put themselves in the public sphere. The result was a plethora of very indifferent blogs cluttering up the blogosphere and attracting the admittedly ill-conceived criticisms of people like Andrew Marr.

With “F & T” providing an outlet for the short and spontaneous forms of self-expression, Blogworld can perhaps gain a new status as a sphere for more serious and carefully composed articles that invite thought and constructive comment. In that case, what we are seeing is not so much the death of the blogosphere as its consolidation.

I remain hopeful because there are some very good blogs out there, that deserve to be known and followed, not just by other bloggers but also by the public at large. There are also some bad ones, of course, bad both in the sense of not being very good and in that of being reprehensible in the views expressed. Caveat emptor. It is far better, though, that bloggers of every persuasion be allowed to practise than that arbitrary rules prevent the good but unconventional from making themselves known.

How do you find the good blogs? On the face of it, the answer should be “Look in blog directories” but in my experience, blog directories are generally pretty poor to the point of being virtually useless. As I mentioned above, many of the blogs they list don’t even still exist. This leads me to suppose that their raison d’être is other than the proclaimed one of helping you and me find good blogs to read.

Should bloggers then form an association for mutual benefit and to advertise themselves? This has been mooted many times before and it seems that bloggers are independent types who don’t join unions and associations but prefer to do their own thing independently. I must admit that I don’t see this as a weakness but rather as a virtue and I am not sure that I can envisage what sort of association would really be of benefit to bloggers. Perhaps someone can enlighten me.

So what is the answer to the question in the title? Are blogs dying and if not actually dying, should we at least regard them as being on the endangered list? Personally, I think not, but it does depend critically on bloggers themselves. As long as there are bloggers with something to say and readers who want to read what they say, then the blogosphere will survive. It may be large or it may be small, but what counts is not so much its size as the interest it evokes and whether it manages to maintain this.

I am optimistic that it will.

Copyright © 2010 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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10 Responses to Are blogs dying?

  1. AEJ says:

    I think the blogosphere is fickle and credit is not always due those who are deemed “popular” or “worthy” by some non-credible source. I have visited plenty of extremely popular blogs and what I find is drivel and emptiness. And yet so many blogs that are witty and worthy of praise are left gathering dust. The frustration writers may feel at being skipped over so that some “popular” blog can be visited may drive some away from blogging; however, those who write for themselves are much better bloggers, in my opinion, than those who write only for the possible popularity they may attain.

    Regarding blogging directories, that’s how I came upon our good friend Catz’s blog. I looked up my own birthday in a directory and found her blog. It’s our shared birthday, as listed in a blog directory, that brought us together those years ago. But, as you said, hers was one amongst many that were dead or dying.

    I think the move to F&T is a by-product of technology causing us to become lazy. We are used to texting now instead of emailing, so we’re too busy to take the time to read what others have to say if it’s more than three words — and it’s preferable if those three words are abbreviated!

    • SilverTiger says:

      Interesting points, thank you.

      For your blog to become a popular, it first has to be discovered amongst the plethora of other blogs. Many people give advice on how to publicize your blog but in my experience, none of the proffered methods necessarily works. It does help to have a strong following and the weak but popular blogs you mention are probably popular because the bloggers have a large group of fans, for whatever reason.

      On the other hand, very good blogs often become well known too… but not necessarily. It is a very hit and miss business.

      I think every blogger should ask him- or herself the question “If this were someone else’s blog, would I bother reading it?” Answering that question honestly can be a sobering and chastening experience! It should persuade most of us to blog because we enjoy doing so (and the buzz that comes from knowing that others may read our words) and that if others read our blog and leave comments, that’s a bonus for which we should be duly grateful. It is not a right whose lack we should resent.

      I agree too that Facebook and Twitter attract because of their facile formula. While this can speed the flow of useful and interesting information, it also offers an invitation to futility and trivia. On the other hand, it is up to individuals how they use a particular medium and if they derive pleasure from it and maintain friendships though it, we should not criticize them for it, I suppose.

      • AEJ says:

        I had a T account back in 2007 and had it set up to send me text messages when one of those I followed posted something. One day I had 12 texts in the span of 15 minutes to the effect of, “Oh! I’m putting the cookies in the oven now” and then another with, “These sure smell good!” and then, “You all are so jealous!”

        I immediately closed my T account and have never looked back.

        • SilverTiger says:

          Annoying at the time but funny in retrospect.

          There was a time when we had to make an effort to stay in touch with one another but nowadays we have to make an effort to find some respite from the continual bombardment of contacts and information.

  2. WOL says:

    I blog because I like blogging. I’ve blogged for years and it is only lately that I have acquired either comments or “friends.” Gratifying, true, but not the end-all and be-all of why I blog. I have no use for either Twitter or Facebook. They strike me as clique-y and clack-y. I didn’t enjoy that culture when I was in school, and age has, if anything, lessened my opinion of it. I’ve always marched to the beat of a different drum, parade or no. I did put in a page view counter and a Feedjit, but just out of curiousity. I’m not even sure I know how to look at my “stats.” The one thing I am interested in getting out of the blogging experience is what authors call “a cold reader” — creative writing is my passion, which is why I have a link on my blog to the stuff I have on Booksie.

    • SilverTiger says:

      Blogging for the sake of blogging is as good a reason as any (and better than many) for blogging.

      One can become too hung up on statistics. It has become apparent to me that most people who visit my blog do so as a result of searching for something on Google. In other words, they are not looking for my blog at all and possibly don’t even look at it once they reach it. A better indication of who does look at the blog is the number of clicks on the links. That shows some curiosity or interest in the site itself.

      The very best indication of all that the visitor is there for and because of your blog is when s/he leaves a comment! As far as I am concerned comments (genuine comments referring to the post, not pretend ones just for the purpose of creating a link back to the visitor’s own commercial site) are the shiny nuggets in the pan.

  3. cabbieblog says:

    To compare blogging with Facebook and Twitter is to compare apples with pears.

    While “F&T” gives bite sized trivial information for the most part, blogging can be as wide ranging or succinct as you wish.

    “F&T” is used by many commercial organisations as a very effective advertising medium, but not many blogs are exclusively used for adverts.

    Most bloggers are not the spotty youths that Andrew Marr described, but serious commentators. Writers who refuse to accept citizen journalism do so at their own cost, journalists have lost their monopoly on the written word, but can now mine the vast reserves of information available on the net and come to an informed opinion for their own writing.

    • SilverTiger says:

      As with most manifestations of popular culture there is both high quality and dross with everything in between.

      When a new thing comes along, the more ingenious will try to find novel uses for it leading sometimes in new directions. Who knows what lies ahead for microblogging and its derivatives?

  4. Em² says:

    Things evolve and not just for the better. I stopped long form blogging a while ago. I just lost the desire to share my thoughts and stopped finding it a beneficial experience.I do think that micro-blogging and the rise of status update style services has just fragmented things and the rise of mobile computing has changed how people consume and produce personal material.

    • SilverTiger says:

      I’m sorry that your blog has become defunct though I had of course suspected this.

      I can accept that needs change and projects we start have a natural lifetime after which we may be drawn to something else.

      Microblogging no doubt has its uses for some people.

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