In the November 2008 issue of Wired (which I am reading in old fashioned analog form, reading it on a plane flight), Paul Boutin suggests the blog is dead. 404. Deep Freeze. Passe. SO 2004. Not only Tired, but Long Expired.
Kill Your Blog. Still posting like 2004? Well knock it off. There are chirpier ways to get your word out.
Thinking about launching your own blog? Here’s some friendly advice: Don’t. And if you’ve already got one, pull the plug.
Writing a weblog today isn’t the brightest idea it was four years ago. The blogosphere, once a freshwater oasis of folksy self experssionism and clever thought, has been flooded by a tsunami of paid bilge. Cut-rate journalists and underground marketing campaigns drown out the authentic voices. of amateur wordsmiths. It’s almost impossible to get noticed, except by hecklers. And why bother? The time it takes to craft sharp, witty blog prose is better spent expressing yourself on Flickr, Facebook, or Twitter.
Grrrrrrrr. Bleccch. What dog turds I smell there.
I have strong guttural reaction to this incredibly glib, shallow analysis of a complex environment, of something which even an author in a glossy magazine cannot claim to have seen enough of to make such a sweeping statement. But it speaks more to a reason why we should blog more, and spend more time to write meaningful content, that does more that sprays 140 characters, that persists more than a quick Scoble tweet crack high. This is a call to bloggers to announce, “I’m not dead yet! In fact, I feel pretty good! I might take a long reflective walk…”
Boutin goes on to describe how few individual bloggers are in the Technorati Top 100 or how most top Google searches are rarely now from individual blogs. The crucial mistake here is in the broad assumption that it is every blogger’s goal to be at the top of some list. It is surprising in a magazine edited by the author of the Long Tail, that a column would suggest the only focus of the blogosphere is to try to get to the small head.
When blogging was young, enthusiasm rode high, with posts quickly skyrocketing to the top of Google’s search results for any given topic… The odds of your clever entry appearing high on that list? Basically zero.
The odds of that being my goal? Extremely low. That is about the narrowest view of the web I have seen.
And it also suggests that the personal blog is the only form of expression; essentially missing the revolution that has happened in web design for small and media firms, where blog software is being used to power all kinds fo web sites, not just celebrity stalking or political ramps. I am still remembering a dazed feeling at the August 2008 WordCamp that there were about 400 people there who were all engaged in somehow using a blog platform to generate the online presence from everything to companies to needle work societies. I met numerous “web designers” who were really WordPress users. Or how an increasing number of educational organizations are exploiting the platform for an explosion of expression, creativity, sharing, discourse– that lasts.
But that strays the point. It’s only a small number of people needing some sort of ego fulfilment, the quick drug users high, of getting noticed. People blog because they have something to express, not because they expect millions of viewers (well 10 would be nice for many of us).
Another factor is that my blog is my blog. I maintain all the content; although it is hosted somewhere else, I have all my media, database backups, templates, I am my archive, It is my hub. It is me. These starry eyed twitter stars have no chance of permanence, tweets are not archived for their entire history, Facebook Haz Ur Stuff Not Urs– if your online existence is scattered in the social software space, you don’t necessarily have your stuff. it is subject to fickle economics, buyout, etc. But there is something that is stronger than, that; I am truly the Master of My Own Domain Name.
Now do not get me wrong; I am massively ‘out there” on my flickr activities and do enjoy and get a lot out of the twitterspace… but I cannot fathom how it can really be the future vehicle for creative expression, meaningful dialogue that will stand up for some length of time.
Brian recently wrote about the demise of old media, the layoffs of newspapers, the move from print to digital, He went on to lament the loss of thoughtful expression, research and writing as papers go digital. I first had a reaction to that as the medium itself should not dictate that any of that can change. It’s more about the institutions that might be able to carry such traditions, and I thiok Brian’s concern was that as these organizations need to find ways to thrive, compete in the new spaces, that the old traditions may go out the window.
To me, this is where large groups of individuals can make a difference. For every Jason Calacanis giving up his A-list blog for the quick-verse (as cited by Boutin), there has to be hundreds, thousands of small timer folks like you and me who don’t care how high our technorati rating is, who don’t write looking in the mirror to admire their reflection, but write to reflect on their being, their soul, things deeper and more important than stroking their ego, who care more about the concepts of slow blogging, of long deep thoughts by people like Barbara Ganley, Chris Lott, Clay Burell (whose A Portrait of the Teacher as a Young Racist is on eof the most moving multipage blog posts I have ever read). This IS happening, and just because Scoble doesn’t see it or it is not in some Gawker headline, does not mean it does not exist, does not impact. I am tired of this portrayal of the head of the long tail as being the only thing that matters. That issi bullshit.
We don’t have to give in completely to the new short form. We can carry on the traditions of the fading media business. And because we are not spitting them out in snack sized snippets, because we maintain our own content in its original form, blogging is more alive than ever.
Go out there, shut the lid, and write something out on paper. Compose a post, a story, a deep reflection. Save it as a draft. Re-read, and re-write, Dig deeper for your links than the first Google hit. Write for yourself, read others, comment others, write more. You will have your own record rather than a string of flip bird chirp comments. I relish my blog posts form 4 years ago; I really have no affection for a tweet I made last week.
Despite rumors to the contrary, in my blog, blogging ain’t dead yet. In fact, I feel pretty good….