Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
February 21, 2011 9:01 PM

Blogging Is Dead (Again)

Did you read the news? Blogging is dead. Mostly because young people are just not that into it.

Why go through the hassle of thinking up unique thoughts, trying to formulate them into sentences and paragraphs, and then pull it all together in a text-based Blog post? Why go through that, when you can tweet your life away in 140-characters (or less) on Twitter, update your Facebook status, shoot a quick video with your webcam and upload it to YouTube or just post whatever is going on in your life to a tumblr lifestream? In a surefire way to draw attention and traffic, The New York Times' latest piece of linkbait is an article titled, Blogs Wane as the Young Drift to Sites Like Twitter. And, of course, yours truly fell for it: hook, line and sinker...

Blogging isn't really dead.

Here's the main crux of the news item via the New York Times article: "The Internet and American Life Project at the Pew Research Center found that from 2006 to 2009, blogging among children ages 12 to 17 fell by half; now 14 percent of children those ages who use the Internet have blogs. Among 18-to-33-year-olds, the project said in a report last year, blogging dropped two percentage points in 2010 from two years earlier. Former bloggers said they were too busy to write lengthy posts and were uninspired by a lack of readers. Others said they had no interest in creating a blog because social networking did a good enough job keeping them in touch with friends and family."

Big shocker there? Young people prefer shorter, quicker and more direct methods of communication.

So, is Blogging truly waning? Here's another tidbit from the article: "While the younger generation is losing interest in blogging, people approaching middle age and older are sticking with it. Among 34-to-45-year-olds who use the Internet, the percentage who blog increased six points, to 16 percent, in 2010 from two years earlier, the Pew survey found. Blogging by 46-to-55-year-olds increased five percentage points, to 11 percent, while blogging among 65-to-73-year-olds rose two percentage points, to 8 percent."

Blogging isn't dead. Blogging is publishing and publishing online is just beginning to evolve.

It's too bad that journalists, certain individuals and even some brands don't see/understand the value and merits of Blogging. We're not talking about a communications channel here. Blogging's true value comes from the fact that it's a publishing platform. Plain and simple. With the evolution of the software behind it, we are no longer in the world of individual online journaling, but at the beginning of a huge shift in publishing. Now, anyone, anywhere can have a thought and publish it in text, images, audio and/or video instantly and for free to the world (online, mobile and touch tablet). That's profound and that's powerful, but it's not something that's easy and that should be done by everybody.

Blogging is hard.

Blogging is hard because writing is hard. Writing is hard because finding the time to do real critical thinking and then to put those thoughts down in writing is even more complex. Reading, research, critical thinking, writing, editing and publishing isn't like posting a picture to tumblr or texting off a tweet. They're different beasts and they deserve different forms of metrics and comparison.

Make the comparisons comparable.

Blogs enjoyed huge popularity because when they were first introduced online, it was one of the few ways that an individual could publish. There were not many alternatives (like joining and sharing through an online social network). Those who weren't truly "writers" were Bloggers out of necessity. As more options came online to express ourselves that were quicker and easier than writing a Blog post, the migration by the general mass populous to those newer channels were an obvious exodus.

What's left? 

In a world on instant publishing online, Blogging is just beginning to take on its role in the pantheon of publishing. Blogging (and Bloggers) now have their own and focused audience. The fragmentation means that we can better quantify (and qualify) those who Blog (and those who read them). It's even fair game to question what, exactly, a Blog is? (i.e. is Huffington Post or TechCrunch a Blog, news outlet or publisher... or all of the above?).

I'd argue that as mature as Blogging is, it's just getting started. What would you say?

(hat-tip: Mark Evans).

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by John McLachlan
    Mitch Joel

    This NY Times story is just such an example of why journalism is dead.

    Reply
    • Posted by John McLachlan
      Mitch Joel

      Of course, I'm kidding about journalism, too, but you know, it is stories like this which for one thing, mention Twitter in the title and then barely mention it in the story. CHEAP.

      Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    That NYT article was so off in so many ways. I wanted to comment on it but there was no way to write a comment. The article just referred the reader to the section of the print edition where the article first appeared.

    The two things that bothered me the most were a) the sensationalist and misleading headline, not borne out by facts and b) the glaring omission of (almost) no reference to blogging for business.

    Reply
  • Posted by Margie
    Mitch Joel

    I hope blogging is just getting started. I'm just getting started and am enjoying all the opportunities for cross-generational discussions.

    Reply
  • Posted by Damian
    Mitch Joel

    Like all good link-bait, they got me too Mitch as I read it this afternoon.

    I create content for 3 blogs, twitter, email, a newsletter, and an investment news-site. While the format for these are different, the rules remain the same whether 140 characters or 1,000 words. You write for the audience that is reading and good writing is good writing regardless.

    Reply
  • Posted by Clay Forsberg
    Mitch Joel

    I love your insight. I also read the New York Times article and came away with much the same opinion.

    It is short sighted to compare blogging to Facebook or Twitter. The later two should be compared to the phone or texting instead. They are alternatives for casual conversation.

    Blogging is like writing an opinion piece for a a publication, thought and execution for a large (hopefully) audience to read and interpret. And hopefully comment themselves.

    I also agree blogging is just getting started - at least from a quality standpoint. The initial novelty wave has moved on to Facebook. What's left is us. And we can hope that we can uphold the potential. One can say you have.

    Reply
  • Blogging dying? It is evolving, not dying. At times in life cycles, there is a natural momentum shift downward. This shouldn't be confused with a major decline.

    Let's think about this for a moment... If blogging is dead, and traditional media is dead, then how will everyone read content? Twitter is great, but with its limited space you can only say so much. Even with Twitter; where is everyone getting sent to with the links? To blogging sites.

    Some weak sites will get weeded out, but blogging isn't going anywhere soon.

    Reply
  • Posted by MicroSourcing
    Mitch Joel

    The younger set is still pretty much into blogging, and most of these accounts are linked to their social networks. Some are even thinking of blogging from their mobile phones.

    Reply
  • Posted by Charles
    Mitch Joel

    What about the fact that having a blog attached to your static website helps increase search engine rankings? Is this still not a valid point? This is one of the main reasons why I encourage clients to attach a blog to their existing website...

    Am I out to lunch?

    Reply
    • Posted by Ryan Knapp
      Mitch Joel

      Charles - If this is the sole reason for someone blogging then, yes, you are out to lunch. If a company or a person isn't behind blogging it will show. They should be utilizing it for both SEO and for top-of-mind/sharing of info. If it's just SEO it's a waste of time, IMO.

      Reply
      • Posted by Charles
        Mitch Joel

        Oh for sure Ryan, in stressing the importance of including a blog...I like make sure to show how valuable writing informative articles is. I"m moving away from the polished 300 word essays though and believe that the short, sweet and conversational type posts are far more attractive to today's audience. Add some eye candy like video's and pictures will keep visitors interested in what you've got to say.

        That's my two cents.

        Reply
  • Posted by Geno Prussakov
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch, I couldn't agree more. While blogging is not just beginning to evolve, quality blogging is just starting to stand out, and its just beginning to gain appreciation as it enters the exiting new phase (of adolescence?). Of course, it's not dead! Dead blogging (i.e. posting for the sake of posting) is what is dead. Quality blogging -- which is hard (nothing to even compare to tweets or status updates) -- will outlive journalism as we know it today.

    Reply
    • Posted by Ari Herzog
      Mitch Joel

      What is journalism? You don't consider a blog to be a part of journalism, Geno?

      Reply
      • Posted by Geno Prussakov
        Mitch Joel

        Good one, Ari. Maybe "as many define it today" (i.e. traditional media outlets) would've been a better choice of wording than "as we know it today".

        And no, I don't believe every blog is "journalism". I think that the majority of quality bloggers fall into one of 3 types: (i) Reporters, (ii) Theoreticians, and (iii) Coaches. The first type would be the journalistic types, while the other two -- not. How do you view it?

        Reply
        • Posted by Ari Herzog
          Mitch Joel

          I don't know, Geno; there's too much crossover if you specify typologies. Take Mitch with this article. He's reporting news, but he's also theorizing. Isn't the point of a "type" to be specific with it?

          Reply
  • Posted by Adam Singer
    Mitch Joel

    Thanks Mitch - saved me the time of having to reply to the NY times. You've done so nicely :)

    Reply
  • Posted by Charlotte
    Mitch Joel

    Nice stats! Think it's a shame that fewer kids are blogging though. Children should be encouraged to write, not to share personal details mind, but definitely to learn the skills they'll need in the real world. Well, I say that but who's to say that people will actually need to know how to write lengthy prose in the future? Definitely think it's a fun teaching tool though for kids. Publish your classes work/feedback on a blog and I bet they're attention to boring topics would go sky-high!

    Charlotte

    Reply
  • Posted by Jerome Pineau
    Mitch Joel

    I think blogging is probably orthogonal to the instant gratification civilization currently in vogue - That combined with the fact the noise ratio on blogs is super high, and people's attention span is approximately 3 seconds now for new messages (if that long).
    So, as a messaging platform, I don't think it works too well. As an intellectual one, it's limited due to the noise - only 1 our of 20 blogs is worth reading (rough estimate) and WOM often finds other channels - just my 2 cents :)

    Reply
  • Posted by Ben Wise
    Mitch Joel

    Great post Mitch.
    If there are fewer bloggers, that by no means that blogging is dead. I think it shows that blogging is past the 'shiny new toy' phase where people adopt it because they *think* they should, not because they have something valuable to write and share.
    If the blogosphere has fewer writers, but ones that are more committed and passionate about their blog, then the world of blogging is getting better, not wrose.
    Cheers

    Reply
    • Posted by Joel Lazeski
      Mitch Joel

      Thanks Mitch,
      I'm on board with Ben Wise on this one. I think it's potentially a good thing that the sheer number of bloggers is decreasing. I doubt the quality of the writing was in correlation with the increase in popularity. One of the great things about the blogosphere is that only rich material will be recognized on a regular basis. What I would really like to see more of is the use of facebook and twitter to direct us to great writing. I think the tools can be utilized as a combination most effectively and should not be segmented.
      J...

      Reply
  • Posted by Josh Muirhead
    Mitch Joel

    Aren't we getting a bit tired of this whole "Blogging is dead" argument?

    I 100% agree Mitch that for some people, they are quick to write off something like blogging when they see a slight dip in "popularity." But likely, this person isn't active in the blogging community, or they're one of those people who was unsatisfied with their numbers.

    We focus to much right now on comparing everything. Often, we don't focus on the the true impacts of what ever media we are talking about, and instead focus on the numbers - i.e. Journalism is dead..no it's not, it's just moved, and specialized (oh, and it appears the NY Times still isn't hurting that much either)

    Really, we all need to take a small step back, and look at what's happening. You're examples of the Huffington Post, or TechCrunch are brilliant examples. These are in truth traditional news outlets, with one major difference - they publish online vs. in print. Almost every other element remains virtually the same (even where they get the revenue from)

    Is blogging dead? No - is anything "DEAD" not really. We all just nee to know that "Life happens while you're making other plans"

    Reply
  • If anything, I found this piece heartening. The message I'm getting is that blogging is for us grownups, who have plenty of useful and/or entertaining things to say, and the attention spans to say it in! :-)

    Reply
  • Great Insight Mitch! I guess if you don't care about your audience, or you don't like ranking on page 1 of Google blogging is dead (For your Keywords)... :) Best, Brian-

    Reply
  • Posted by Jason Malikow
    Mitch Joel

    Good observations, Mitch. The evolution of blogging as a platform for critical thought and debate should mean higher quality content across the board. The opportunity for individuals and brands to communicate an a deeper and more thoughtful way is too good to pass up.

    I returned to blogging after a six year hiatus because it offers a more direct connection with a wider audience and a faster way to get ideas into circulation than traditional (popular or academic) publishing. My pieces aren't any less rigorous, and I enjoy the challenge of working in such a flexible medium.

    Reply
  • Im a young new blogger, and while I do enjoy Twitter as a way to interact on a more personal level with those I meet through blogging, it does not replace the joy derived from posting a great new blog entry. I certainly hope its not on its way out because I adore it!

    Reply
  • Posted by Jon Buscall
    Mitch Joel

    The piece in the NYT is the sort of thing that makes it harder to convince some C suite folks that blogging has a place in business. Whilst they're keen to explore what Facebook can do, blogs get a bad rap.

    I personally think the term "blog" has too many negative connotations but I can't come up with an alternative.

    No matter, I'm convinced blogs are the best way of distributing content online for B2Bs at present.

    Reply
  • Right on the nose...once again.
    Thanks Mitch for this insight.
    Your latest article is just one more reason why I read YOUR blog.

    Mind you, I READ it because
    - it is long enough for you , and me, to forge an opinion.
    - it is frequent enough to link it with current events, articles and concept
    - it is insightful
    - it is honest and transparent
    Try to do all this with Twitter or FACEBBOOK

    Blogging is going down?

    GOOD!

    Once again the old rule stands :
    "success" comes before "work" ...only in the dictionary!

    Persistence and content.

    It worked before technology allowed everybody to write anything on everything.

    It will work afterwards too!

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    I read that phrase at least once a month since I started blogging myself.
    First time I was kinda "shocked", like, wow I just started and it's already over? I believe every change can be perceived as death of the previous set of "rules", as you say blogging is evolving, can this mean "old blogging" is dead? Well, I guess so, but it surely doesn't mean blogging is dead altogether, nor that it's about to anytime soon.

    Reply
  • Posted by Sara Tetreault
    Mitch Joel

    Once those youngsters grow up, they'll need advice from us mature, critical thinking adults. Good thing we'll all be ready with our grammatically correctly blogs.

    Reply
  • Posted by Amanda Frank
    Mitch Joel

    and the only thing worth reading is paid for, according to the contents of this blog post announcing why he's "murdered" his blog http://www.drivingtraffic.com/

    Reply
  • Posted by Jon Thomas
    Mitch Joel

    Simply put, blogging is a narrow term, while content creation (or publishing, if you may) covers a far wider range. Content creation will never die. Soon it will be difficult to even define what "blogging" is.

    Reply
  • Posted by Mike Agres
    Mitch Joel

    It is fair game to examine what a blog is.

    The funny thing, though, is that the answer is "a blog is whatever its creator intends it to be."

    In some instances, it's an online diary (think: Julie Powell, or friends of yours that may blog about expecting a child - I only use this example because a friend of mine's doing that now).

    In some instances, it's a foil for traditional media coverage (think: Huffington Post as a foil for news sites or SB Nation as a foil for ESPN)

    In some instances, it's a means providing deep insights that help others advance their businesses, advance their careers, or advance their thinking -- all while becoming the most effective means of marketing the producer's other products that may provide more of the same (think: Seth Godin, 37Signals, and Mitch Joel -- whose book I would have never discovered and read had it not been for subscribing to this blog).

    Where is blogging going? I have no idea. But it's safe to say the blogs I read today are different from what I read 5-6 years ago.

    Reply
  • Posted by jeremy
    Mitch Joel

    been a while since I commented (i see engagement is still high!). Just chiming in to say that i really enjoyed and agree with this post. Keep up the good work.

    Reply
  • Posted by Kyle Judkins
    Mitch Joel

    I get so tired of hearing that blogging is dead. Blogging is a HUGE building block for all sharing in the other social channels. Without blogging, how would you share anything with deep substance? It's all short form. You need the longer form to really tell a story or explain a hard topic.

    I would really like to see the data broken out. Which are the blogs not getting created? Is it just the personal blogs or are we actually losing blogs that have real content? I'm sure it's mostly personal pages not getting developed. Facebook and Twitter are better for sharing basic thoughts, and that satisfies most needs, but we will always need an outlet for deeper content.

    Reply
    • Posted by Jerome Pineau
      Mitch Joel

      @Kyle - well part of the problem is that "deep substance" is hardly every popular although I believe this can be changed.

      Reply
      • Posted by Kyle Judkins
        Mitch Joel

        @Jerome - Well, "deep substance" was maybe a little strong. You also need a blog to write linkbait, which many would argue isn't "deep substance," so I should have probably just went with expanded thought or something more broad like that. :D

        Reply
  • Posted by Jeph Maystruck
    Mitch Joel

    I live in Regina, Saskatchewan, blogging is far from dead here. I'm sure many people would marvel in the opportunity the online world is in Saskatchewan. I just love reading this stuff because I think our market place is about to explode.

    Oh and the comment "It's articles like the one in the NY Times that prove that journalism's dead" - That's funny.

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    Web 2.0 has brought with it a high level of uncertainty. We never know what the next big thing is going to be. We never know the impact that things will have on societies and industries. And because the outlet to "speak" is increasingly available, people are often speaking their minds without proper research, assessments, and honestly, without proper knowledge.

    Before the Twitter boom started people the naysayers said it couldn't work, because 140 characters was too little to say anything of real value. One extreme. When it boomed, they said it will kill blogging because people will not bother writing blog posts anymore. Another extreme.

    I think we should stop trying to throw the baby out with the bath water. I use a mixture of Social Media tools, and I always tell people that one tool (e.g. Facebook) cannot work alone. You need a mixture to talk to a variety of categories of people. I even use a mixture of Social Media apps - because each app provides a different level of advantage in different areas.

    There should be a call and a move towards balance. Things are moving pretty fast, but our mouths needn't.

    Reply
  • Posted by edward boches
    Mitch Joel

    We are being programmed, as well. As DR tells us. With Tumblr and Posterous all anyone does is post things that they "found" online. "Hey, look what I found on the web!" Agree wholeheartedly that the online publishing thing is where the future is. Some of us will be individual content creators, others aggregators. Some will write to build valuable audiences, others to gather and connect with community, others to build their personal brand and still some to simply find their voice and clarify their thoughts. You're also right that it is hard work.

    Reply
  • Posted by Hajra
    Mitch Joel

    Blogging can't and won't die so soon....I just came here seven months back (Lol!)..jokes apart, I come across so so so many blogs every day I am surprised by this argument every time.

    Reply
  • Posted by Jim Raffel
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch,
    Is writing really hard? Or, could it be that not watching YouTube videos, reading Facebook status updates, and playing on Twitter are hard to give up?

    For me, the hardest part of writing is getting started. Often times when I get started I find myself in a flow and write multiple posts.

    Just my take :)
    Jim

    Reply
  • Posted by aman
    Mitch Joel

    Thanks for sharing with us.

    Reply
  • Having read this I believed it was rather enlightening. I appreciate
    you spending some time and energy to put this informative article together.
    I once again find myself spending a significant amount of time both reading and commenting.

    But so what, it was still worth it!

    Reply
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