Has blogging peaked?
The demands of blogging have pushed many to abandon the form for faster, simpler word bursts on Twitter or Facebook.
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In a way, of course, it’s not just blogging that’s changing – it’s the very way we communicate our thoughts online. In the past, blogs were the prime vehicle for pour-your-guts-out self-expression, often of an uncomfortably intimate variety. Bloggers wrote 3,000 words on a recent breakup, or 17 paragraphs on anxiety over law school applications. Many bloggers haven’t stopped mining their personal lives for long-form blog fodder. But younger users seem to be turning en masse toward social-media sites, where it’s quicker to broadcast information, and easier to receive instant feedback.Skip to next paragraph
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There’s a “flagging desire to blog that I feel in myself and see in other late-20s, early-30s people in my friend circle,” says Jessica Newton, a writer based in Asheville, N.C. Ms. Newton continues to post to her blog, although she says the site “doesn’t serve the purpose in my life I once hoped it would.”
Michael Banks, the author of “Blogging Heroes: Interviews with 30 of the World’s Top Bloggers,” says that many bloggers have simply realized that the energy and dedication to maintain a blog far exceeded their expectations.
When Mr. Banks published “Blogging Heroes” in 2007, there was still a widely shared belief that one could instantly become rich and famous through blogging. Eventually, Banks says, “people sort of woke up to the fact that blogging required tremendous dedication and effort. The best bloggers are there at the keyboard every day, 12 hours a day sometimes, no matter what.” Good blogging he says, is intensive. “You can’t just blurt anything out. You have to think it through.”
Anthony Chung, a dentist in Toronto, says his personal blogging began to taper off in 2007. “From what I’ve seen online,” Mr. Chung says, “few bloggers with personal blogs tend to remain interested in blogging after two to three years. This was true before Facebook, and is especially true now. Our priorities and time commitments change.” Chung points out that when you first start a blog, “all who listen are strangers.” But as time passes, your audience grows, and your identity is more fully exposed. “That’s a pretty big throttle to the momentum of a blog,” Chung says. “Blogging from that point forward requires more thought and less impulsiveness. And that requires more time.”
For his part, Chung now spends a lot of his time with a photography company he calls Enfoto, which he uses Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter to promote. He maintains one blog for Enfoto, and contributes to another group dentistry blog, but keeps his digital scribbling focused on professional matters. New-media prognosticators say Chung’s digital path – from personal blog to an array of platforms, each designated for a specific purpose – is likely to be a common one in coming years.
“I think what might be happening is that something [that] blogging wasn’t very good at – instant notification, status updates, quick conversation – is shifting to the platforms where it is better handled,” says Jay Rosen, a professor of journalism at New York University. “People who once started blogs to be part of the online conversation probably wouldn’t do that today. They would use Facebook or Twitter. But the combination of a Twitter feed for constant contact and a blog for persistent writing over time is too effective for it to wholly disappear.”