The New York Times Says Blog(s) Are Dead

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Well, sort of. Sunday’s New York Times story has certainly created ripples. Citing research from the Pew Research Center, the author’s core premise is that people are forgoing blogging in favour of short form communications through social networks like Facebook and twitter. Fair point. It is impossible to deny the growth and popularity of these channels.

But are blogs dying? Personally, I think it’s more of an evolution. Social networks have created a culture of immediacy – enabling and compelling people to share in real time. This sharing is typically short form, making it easier to create and consume than a blog post. But does this mean people don’t want to read long form? I say no.

Considered analysis and commentary is critical. 140 characters forces brevity and, frequently, superficiality.

Look at today’s tragic earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand. I learned of the ‘quake through a post from my Uncle on Facebook. I went to twitter and saw a raft of RTs and links to mainly mainstream media channels. To find out what had happened I looked to blogs, mainstream media, radio and news sites in particular. I wanted to go beyond the headlines and sought out channels that were able to frame the story, provide context and give me a level of qualified detail that short form social networks couldn’t offer.

I think what the New York Times has identified is perhaps a decline in traditional personal blogging. But, in doing so, must make us question precisely what traditional blogging actually is. Is Hong Kong’s NeonPunch a blog? Or is it a news outlet? Is Tumblr a blog? A microblog? These channels have much in common with blogs as we knew them.

And what of the enterprise? I feel corporations, too, are undergoing a blog-inspired evolution. We’re gradually seeing companies such as Alibaba.com through its Alizila news site communicate in real language and offer objective commentary and news that can be commented upon and shared.

But more to the point, does it even matter? Blogging has given us a form of expression to which Facebook and twitter owe a great debt of gratitude. The consumers have spoken. They want personal opinions and they want to be able to share and comment. These attributes were at the heart of blogging long before before the first tweet was tweeted nor the first question posted on Quora.com.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, rumours of the death of blogging have been greatly exaggerated. Blogs – and more critically the communications revolution they inspired – will be with us until people decide they no longer want long form articles to read, share or comment upon. And I for one hope that’s a day we’ll never see.

- Cross-posted from http://publicrelationships.blogspot.com