Last night I read a Wired magazine article about how Twitter, Facebook and Flickr have killed blogging. The article starts with this anti-blogging sentiment:
“Thinking about launching your own blog? Here’s some friendly advice: Don’t. And if you’ve already got one, pull the plug.”
I’ve been blogging since 1998 (coming up on my 10-year anniversary!), so this is an interesting discussion for me. I definitely agree that Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and all the other content-publishing tools out there have changed the face of blogging. My own blogging has changed drastically since I began using Twitter.
But I don’t see the blog going away.
The blog is still good at two things:
1) Long form writing (which I’ll define as anything more than 140 characters, which can still be quite short). If you want to say anything of any relative length (again, more than 140 characters), a blog is an ideal place. I’ve enjoyed Twitter so much partially because it gives me a release valve for stuff that’s not quite a blog post. Instead of filling my blog with all these mindless comments and trying to stretch them into blog posts, I can just let them be short and pithy on Twitter. I can save my blog for stuff like this, where I really want to lay out arguments and discussions and provide context and sources.
2) Being a hub for your personal communication. A blog certainly isn’t necessary for this (a regular web page or landing page would work just as well), but it fills the role nicely. My blog is my online home. My Facebook page is beyond a login, and my Twitter/YouTube/Flickr/Vimeo accounts are on someone else’s site. My blog is the only place I have total control (and for others this assumes you have blog software on your own url–otherwise you’re at the mercy of TypePad or Blogger) and can easily point people to everywhere else I am online.
I don’t think blogging is going anywhere. It is changing, but it’s not going anywhere. It still gives people a voice and enables them to have conversations. The medium may not be dominated by personal bloggers any more, but that’s OK. Being the number one blogger in the world is a goal shared by very few bloggers. The whole point of blogging (and social media in general) is being number one not for the world but for a very small audience of committed followers. And “being number one” for that group may be overstating it. The point of blogging is to connect with a committed group and facilitate further conversations with that group.
The article goes on to highlight two trends that are killing blogging:
These are folks who aren’t interested in a conversation and just want to yell their point of view to anyone who will listen. And since most blogs allow commenting, they’re listening. I think every blog with comments gets these kind people. They can be annoying. They can be irritating. But so what? I find you can either delete them or ignore them and it’s no big deal. And they show up on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and everywhere else, too.
Google Won’t Find You
The article also claims that Google will no longer find posts from random bloggers. That’s certainly true if you’re talking about the same thing as sites with high traffic. My post Why I’m Voting for Barack Obama, for example, isn’t going to show up very high on Google. That’s what everyone is talking about. But if you write something more narrow, like Barack Obama Has No Search Box for example, then you can be the number one result for Barack Obama search box (Note that this post wasn’t on this blog but another one I wrote for. However, a second blog post I wrote for another site also shows up in the results).
Blogging is still a powerful way to show up in Google. You’re just not going to get to the top of the popular results unless you are that popular. Which is the way it should be. Again, blogging is about niche conversations–you shouldn’t care about the popular results anyway.
Keep on Bloggin’
So I’ll continue to blog. And I’ll also use Twitter and Flickr and Facebook. It’s a changing tech landscape, but it doesn’t mean blogging is dead.