Blogs Are Not Dead

Posted on 12/19/2013 in misc

It's the end of the year, that time when talking heads start spouting off nonsense on all the issues of the day. The current "popular wisdom," as evidenced by Kottke is that blogs are dead. To be fair, his actual post is a bit more nuanced than that, but he and all the rest are still missing the point.

Blogs are not dead, they are just all grown up. Blogs in 2001 were much like a 2 year old. They were often frustrating to manage, likely the throw a tantrum, and not do you what you want. By 2006 blogs were teenagers. They'd try anything. Photo blogs, micro blogs, link blogs, you name it. Pretty much any sort of web based publishing was forced into the blog format. It clearly was not ideal, but it was all we had. In 2013 blogs are now middle-aged. They don't do wild things and try new stuff. They have figured out where they fit in the world and settled down with a comfortable publishing schedule. Today blogs are mostly for longer form, public content.

A look at the history of O'DonnellWeb is instructive. When I added blog software in 2001 (the site has been online since 95) my posts were a mix of one liners, short music reviews, links with little to no added commentary, and some longer form writing. I had over 5000 posts on the blog at one time. At least 3000 of them were formats that were not well suited for a blog. For several years a script created a post out of my Delicious links and created a daily blog post with new links. That's not really a great use for a blog. The links aren't categorized, and hundreds of them were long dead a few years later.Those posts are all deleted. So are hundreds of other link posts that are dead on the other end. I also deleted hundreds of short comments on current affairs that were pointless out of context years later. Many posts were family update types of things that were on the blog because I had no better options in 2003. Today, Facebook is much better place for those posts. The 280 odd friends at Facebook are really the only people that would care about those posts anyway. What's left here is somewhere near 2000 posts I think, and I could probably cull those quite a bit if I were so motivated (I'm not).

My point is, my blog didn't die just because I only update it 2X a month instead of 5X a day like I used to. As web publishing matured better tools were invented and those things that were never well suited for blogs anyway moved to the better tools. A lot of people were blogging mainly to keep up with friends and family. Those people have moved to Facebook. People that liked to share links have moved to Twitter. Blogs have settled into an equilibrium where the available tools are being used in a manner that makes best use of the typical blog- unlimited, uncensored space to say something.

Death is a bad thing. Blogs are middled-aged, and it's a long way from middle-aged to dead.

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