A few days ago the NY Times ran a story with the title “Blogs Wane as the Young Drift to Sites Like Twitter”. Of course, this being the internet – everyone ran around screaming about how “blogs are dead” now. Because if there’s one thing the NY Times knows, it’s technology and social wind drift.
Let’s take a look at this for a second, because it’s been making me laugh for a few days now. First let’s look at the actual story. It goes on to say how kids these days (Those darn youts! They ruint everything! Except they didn’t at all.) are using FaceBook and Twitter “instead of blogs.”
Well, fair enough. Except… see the article manages to go in circles once it gets past “Kids think “blogs” not as good, older people like them still if not more” and even then it misses a critical point.
People “use” FaceBook mostly by posting Notes on it. Which, really, are blog entries. So people are not blogging by blogging. Righty-o! Got. So what’s this article saying?
It’s saying nothing, it just wants eyeballs on it. I mean that’s the job, there. Writing an article with a lede that grabs people and will knowingly make the internet scream is good for business. And this certainly did that. Because the number of people, obviously myself included, who wrote blog entries about how blogs ain’t dead and linked back to the article… well. There are enough to prove the point.
But let’s look at the bigger point: Younger folks are using FaceBook more than individual blogging sites. And part of that is because they feel people don’t read or comment to their personal sites, but they do if they use something like FaceBook.
Which is 100% correct. Let’s go back in time, now. People used to blog, by hand, without a CMS base. And people wouldn’t read it. Eventually LiveJournal started up and it formed a community and people blogged there and commented and folks found that if they talked there they would get a bunch of people who were tuned to their “station” so to speak, reliably.
MySpace did the same for a while. And then personal blogs took over again. And now FaceBook is pulling it back in, the same way as happened ten or eleven years ago. And it makes perfect sense.
People like to tell stories. You can’t stop that. But they like to be heard, too. And if they have to shout into the wind and hope that people remember to stop in listening range they will get frustrated, more often than not. But if you give them a channel, a network where people can easily make lists of things they want to get information from, an aggregator, then it becomes world’s easier to track stuff – and so people do.
RSS was supposed to solve this but never did. Still, it makes perfect sense that young adults (by which I define teens and those just moving past being teens) are moving closer and tighter into spaces that let them create channels to share data instead of screaming to the wind. You want your friends close. You want a community out there. LiveJournal’s biggest boom time was when most of the user base was 13-16. As they grew older the service started to wane.
FaceBook will, too, in five or ten years time. And the next generation will use something different to create their communities. And then we’ll have screaming and cloth rending parties about that, too.
But saying “Blogging is dead!” is a cheap sensationalist move that ignores the facts, the history and the reality of what’s going on. People want their own communities. Not the ones someone else built and used. Not their own spaces. They want a place to grow and share with other people that can easily drift ideas. And as they get older they’ll move off, the ones who want to keep telling stories, to their own personal spaces (Personally I blog in my own space and then syndicate it out to FaceBook and LiveJournal and an RSS feed. But that’s me and I have issues.). And a new generation will infest a new space and the cycle will continue.
People will still blog – in the sense that they will still tell stories, about themselves, about their lives and about each other. People won’t move away from that. The exact website they do it on will change, and the backbone tech will certainly change, but the fact of it never will.