For years, we’ve seen so-called analysis pieces pondering whether blogs are dead, due mainly to the ascendancy of Facebook. The latest round involved a Pew Internet & American Life report (where pundits didn’t bother to question sample size, differences between longitudinal and latitudinal developments, and convenient redefinitions of generational years). Any exercise declaring a communication channel dead is foolish, and millions of blogs are indeed alive and well.
But I do think Facebook and other social media platforms have changed the order of blogs in our universe. The connections and instant confessional of Facebook (and Twitter) changed some things: 1) The blog as primary community, 2) The primacy of multimedia and 3) The shift from general/personal blogs to more purposeful/professional ones.
Once upon a time, a main way I gained new friends, and kept up with their lives, was via the Xanga blogging community. Last I checked, only four of my Xanga friends updated in the past month, whereas I used to see many more than four update any given day. These days, most of my new online connections come via Twitter, perhaps moving on to Facebook.
As a microblogging platform, Twitter allows us to spill our thoughts in 140 characters or less any time with no muss or fuss, and allows us to connect with others in one catch-all location as opposed to surfing to their blogs. And yes, most of those I interacted with most on Xanga I keep in touch with via Facebook and Twitter now.
The boom in visual online sharing — whether YouTube for video or Flickr/Photobucket/Instagram for photos — means we can communicate quickly, simply and effectively with more than just words. I used to do photoblogs, but I find it easier to make a Facebook album and tell the story through captions. And with video the richest of online storytelling formats, content creators and consumers naturally gravitate toward this medium.
If you look at the blogs that are most known, most read, most ballyhooed, they are topical blogs, or those that revolve around a particular thread, theme or point of view. Blogging Nation is no longer about teenagers discussing their unrequited crushes. That can, and does, unfold quicker across Facebook, with greater ability to sate instant gratification. Now blogs are more likely to detail new products, apps or online communities; people defending or refuting various political positions; and people chronicling some kind of life journey. Taken as a whole, any given blog with any readership is more likely to have a more specific focus.
And oh yes, Facebook and Twitter drive more traffic to my blogs than anything else. So it’s not a zero-sum game but a question of how audiences and interests intersect and overlap.
Those are just my general observations as someone who keeps and/or contributes to five blogs and manages a sixth. What do you think?