Nicholas Carr of Rough Type wrote an article for Brittanica 3 days ago called Blogosphere, R.I.P.?. In the article he talks about how blogs, as we know them, are dying and are becoming more mainstream. I recommend reading the article before reading the rest of this post 🙂
One Sided View
I agree with some of the points he makes in this article but on the whole I feel it is very one sided and singles out blogs unfairly.
For example, near the start of the article Nicholas states :
As blogs have become mainstream, they’ve lost much of their original personality.
This I would agree with. Most successful blogs do have a less personal touch to them compared to a few years ago. However, the same could be said about websites in general. Can you remember what most websites were like 10-12 years ago? They were definately more personal. Most websites were a collage of the webmasters thoughts, ideas and hobbies ie. they covered numerous topics. Most were very poorly designed too (mine included) and had lots of pointless animations and images.
Fast forward to today and most popular websites are well designed, well maintained and focused on the one topic. The same could be same about blogs which is why I think it’s unfair to target the blogoshere as this is something that has affected all websites on the net. It’s a classic case of evolution rather than a medium dying.
He goes on to say :
It’s no surprise, then, that the vast majority of blogs have been abandoned. Technorati has identified 133 million blogs since it started indexing them in 2002. But at least 94 percent of them have gone dormant, the company reports in its most recent “state of the blogosphere” study. Only 7.4 million blogs had any postings in the last 120 days, and only 1.5 million had any postings in the last seven days.
Now, as longtime blogger Tim Bray notes, 7.4 million and 1.5 million are still sizable numbers, but they’re a whole lot lower than we’ve been led to believe. “I find those numbers shockingly low,” writes Bray; “clearly, blogging isn’t as widespread as we thought.” Call it the Long Curtail: For the lion’s share of bloggers, the rewards just aren’t worth the effort.
Again, this is very one sided in my opinon and singles out blogs. Unfortunately, these Technorati stats appear to be quoted everytime someone talks about blogs and the blogosphere. But are blogs unique to this phenomenon? I think not.
How many regular websites have been left to rot for years, how many have not been updated in the last 120 days? There are still hundreds of thousands of websites on the internet which have not been updated in the 21st century, nevermind the last 4 months.
I do believe that blogs are abandoned more than traditional websites. There are two main reasons for this :
- You can setup a blog for free
- You can setup a blog in minutes
Because blogs are free, quick to setup and require no programming experience whatsoever, it became incredibly popular with a wide range of people. And because they don’t cost anything to setup, most people don’t mind letting a blot rot, why should they?
10 to 12 years ago, before blogs were around and before Google was King, Yahoo ruled the roost. They let Yahoo account holders create their own website with their hugely popular GeoCites brand, and millions of internet users did just that. Similar to the blog platform, geocites made it easy for members to build and maintain websites and it was also free. Which is why so many of them were abandoned and never updated again.
Bottom line, these technorati stats are incredibly misleading and don’t give a fair interpretation of the blogosphere. Platforms which let people have a voice on the web for free are always going to be popular and they are always going to be abandoned more than regular websites.
So is the Blogosphere dying?
Here is what I think you need to do before you start using these Technorati stats for the basis of an assumption that the blogosphere is dying.
- First you need to remove all Blogspot.com and WordPress.com blogs from the technorati stats. Yes, they do represent a large percentage of the blogosphere but they also represent bloggers who setup accounts for free so there is a much higher chance of them being abandoned. Which is why these blogs have to be removed from the stats. In other words, they are skewing the results.
- Then you need to gather stats from the last 5-10 years from all types of websites and see how many have not been updated.
- You would then have to find the number of internet users worldwide in each of these years so that results from each year can be viewed fairly.
I don’t believe that anyone out there has access to this information but I suspect that blogs would still be the most abandoned type of website. Again, it comes down to the huge popularity of blogs and the ease at which they can be setup. However it would put things into perspective and give a more realistic picture of the blogosphere.
Mads Kristensen from Vadnu agrees. In his post ‘Why there is still life in blogs’ he writes :
I agree that blogging to some extend has gone mainstream with over 100M blogs created during these past few years. However statistics indicate that less than 2M of these are really active, so does that mean that we can still talk about a blogosphere as some sort of meaningful concept?
In other words, should old abandoned blogs even be included in any list about the blogosphere?
There is no denying that the Blogosphere is changing. This is due to the flexibility of the blogging platform and to the fact that blogging, as a medium, has become more popular and more accepted with internet users.
At the end of his article Nicholas said :
Who killed the blogosphere? No one did. Its death was natural, and foretold.
And perhaps the death was natural, and foretold, but in it’s place we will have the second evolution of blogging, perhaps thats microblogging, perhaps that’s something else. At the very least I suspect that blogs will remain popular for at least the next 5-10 years.
What do you think : is the blogosphere dying or evolving?