Thursday, July 14, 2011

Is Blogging Dead?

Let's first state the obvious: this blog has been dead for quite some time. (If, indeed, it was ever alive. Does the life of a blog begin with conception, or...? But I digress.) It was in contemplating the revival of this particular venture that I started to think more carefully about the history--and future--of blogging.

It struck me recently that the life path of the blog has echoed the development of my own generation in many ways. When I was 11, I registered my first email address... back in the day, when everyone used AOL. These were the days of chatrooms: relatively anonymous conversations with strangers--impermanent, impersonal. Updates about our own lives were shared privately via email, with specific individuals. By the time I was in middle school, IMing was a popular after-school activity. Basically, IMing replaced email for the instant-gratification-obsessed, short-attention-span-possessing crowd (that is, teenagers).

It wasn't until I reached high school that blogging made its way into my life. Keeping a diary has long been a favorite pastime of adolescents, especially girls, and keeping a weblog was simply the newest incarnation, utilizing technology more appropriate to my generation than the good ol' pen and paper. Almost all of my friends had accounts at LiveJournal, and unless you diligently kept up with their various blogs, you were so painfully out of the loop, you wouldn't be able to follow half the conversations that took place in person.

This couldn't last forever, of course. Just as the social circle seems like the most important thing in the world when you're 16, and gossip becomes less interesting the older and busier you are, blogging as we knew it fell by the wayside. Of course, there are always a few people you went to high school with who still really care how much Mr. Valedictorian makes a year or whether Ms. Social Butterfly is still ridiculously good looking. Similarly, there will always be people who like to read and write journal-type blogs. But increasingly, purely personal content fails to grab or sustain the average net surfer's attention. Instead, people now mobilize around common interests. The most popular blogs are topic-centered: food blogs, craft blogs, political blogs, sports blogs, time-wasting blogs. (Yes, I would say that time-wasting counts as an interest, especially amongst people born after 1980.)

Currently, then, the blogging platform is being used most successfully as a vehicle for content that does not necessarily match the original purpose. Blogs may not be dead, simply "all growed up." But I would argue that the platform itself isn't long for this world, either. No longer do we need chronological posting, for example. For most user-generated content, the date is not as important as the subject matter itself. Hence the success of websites like our own HubPages, where pieces of content (which we call "Hubs") are organized in a category tree, as well as available on each author's personal page.

While we still see the occasional confused newbs signing up and attempting to write about their in-laws' visit or what they need to get at the grocery store, I predict that these folks will become fewer and fewer over the next few years. Sites that organize around shared interests--like HubPages in the internet publishing sphere and Google+ as a social network--will enjoy the most vibrant communities. And as for blogging? Well, it ain't what it used to be. But that may be a good thing.

1 comment:

Simone said...

Fascinating! I do suppose personal blogging is dead, though I would also argue that the form is still alive but in video format. Even in the vlogging realm, though, it looks like the personal content that has themes and useful/entertaining episodes does the best.
You're right. With social media being so efficient, there is simply no need to write about personal matters alone because it is, as you point out, already efficiently covered!
That said, you had better frickin' keep writing, Maddie.