This is a question that’s actually been around for a while now. In researching this article I found articles from as early as 2004 saying that blogging was going to decline in importance. In 2006, Technorati reported that overall daily blog postings fell. Some said that blogging was a passing fad and was at the peak of its popularity. However, we still see new blogs appearing everyday and new bloggers becoming popular, here at the end of 2007. So, what’s the real deal? What should you look at and not look at to determine the health of blogosphere? And where is it headed?
Many people start blogs but few really stick with it. Dead blogs, blogs where there has been no new posts for over a month, are quite common. These blogs get counted in totals and skew the statistics downward.
Why do blogs die? There are many reasons, worthy of a post by itself, but the bottom line is that if you’re serious about calculating the health of the blogosphere, you shouldn’t include them in your count. Only active blogs, which I would defined as those having at least one post or comment a month, should be counted.
Social Networking ‘Blogs’
Many “blogging is obsolete” prophets of doom also count pages on sites like MySpace and Facebook as blogs because they have a personal journal aspect and commenting. I wouldn’t count them as blogs myself though, would you? These sites really shouldn’t be considered blogs if one is serious about analyzing actual blogging.
Blogs with auto-generated content, created from stolen content, public domain or creative commons content (usually Wikipedia), or excerpted, are increasingly common. That they’re around indicates that blogging is popular. Should we count them as healthy blogs? Perhaps, at least at a “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” level.
Real Blogs / Real Niches / Real Passion
Active blogs are appearing in almost every niche on a regular basis. You can’t do a Google search without finding several on almost any given topic. While some drop out of blogging, there are always new writers to take their place. The real growth in blogging isn’t in the ‘personal journal’ area that blogging was associated with in its early days, that part may well be fading or moving to other venues. The real growth area is in a passionate author creating quality content for a niche audience.
The Future of Blogging
My take is that blogging is, in a sense, maturing and not becoming obsolete. The initial, experimental, phase of blogging ended in 2006 and now we’re in a new period where successful blogs will find niches and the bar will be raised somewhat for creating a successful blog. Writing skills will need to be better and content quality and presentation will become increasingly important. While blogs won’t become obsolete, some of the old ways of creating content and monetization will become so.
Multimedia blogging will also become more and more common. Many blogs will present audio and video content on a regular basis. Once again, content quality and a good presentation will be tantamount. Simple ‘talking head’ video won’t cut it much longer. Text presentations will need supporting images to capture user attention in most niches. Ultimately, creating content that brings in an audience will become more time consuming but the goal of connecting to that audience on a personal level won’t change that much.
What do you think should count as a real blog? Do you think that there is a transition in blogging going on right now? Are you planning to go for tighter niche content or more multimedia presentations on your blog? Leave a comment to let me hear what you think.