December 28, 2014 by Paula Reed Nancarrow
At the end of 2013, Jason Kottke pronounced the blog legally dead.
I was too busy resurrecting my own to notice. No doubt I was planning my editorial calendar while standing in the supermarket line with the slowest cashier. Good choices, bad timing: one of my signature blends.
For those of you who don’t know (as until this year I did not), Jason Kottke is one of the pioneers and popularizers of the weblog, since shortened to blog, having started his first in 1998. In fact kottke.org is one of the longest continuously running blogs on the web. So when he pronounced the blog dead –well, people stood up and took notice.
At least people who had not been sitting on the sidelines planning their glorious comeback did.
The cause of death? Social media.
“Instead of blogging, people are posting to Tumblr, tweeting, pinning things to their board, posting to Reddit, Snapchatting, updating Facebook statuses, Instagramming, and publishing on Medium. In 1997, wired teens created online diaries, and in 2004 the blog was king. Today, teens are about as likely to start a blog (over Instagramming or Snapchatting) as they are to buy a music CD. Blogs are for 40-somethings with kids.”
Excellent blogs still exist and will continue to exist, says Kottke – and he still posts quite regularly to his. But information, he says, is increasingly been distributed by other means.
Kottke wrote his post for the Neiman Labs Predictions for Journalism 2014 series, though he was speaking not just about journalism but about personal blogging and the role blogging has played in corporate marketing. His bio at the end of the post notes, rather tongue in cheek, that “Jason Kottke is a 40-something with kids and a blog.”
His post generated a lot of controversy, and discussion, for several months after it came out.
ProBlogger was on it immediately, with a guest post by Steff Green about what the trends are and what a professional blogger can do about it. Grace Bonney of Design Sponge wrote a response in January, noting that advertising as a means of supporting a blog had gone “from boom to bust.”
Of course most of what Kottke says – and as far as I know, the discussants afterward – is spot on and true.
It just doesn’t apply to anyone I know personally who blogs. Including your humble servant.
I’m certainly not a teenager on Snapchat.
Nor am I trying to get teenagers on Snapchat to read what I write. I’m not even a 40-something with kids. I don’t have a design blog with staff and overhead that needs to be cut to face the realities of advertising revenue; I’m not trying to support myself blogging; and while the future of journalism does concern me, I am not trying to make a living at that either.
Nor am I an author using my blog to engage with readers and occasionally (we hope occasionally) to promote my books.
Though about a quarter of those who read and comment on my blog are. For them, the pivotal post in 2013, the year Kottke’s sounded his death knell, might be L. L. Barkat’s It’s time for (many) experienced writers to stop blogging, a guest post on Jane Friedman’s blog which lays out a number of issues with the format and its demands, issues that are discussed with nuance and perspective in the comments as well. The counter post, Dan Blank’s “2 Strategic and Compelling Reasons to Keep Blogging – Plus When to Kill a Blog,” is equally valuable.
The bloggers I have come to know this year are from all walks of life.
They are mothers (or mums) and dads; people living with chronic illness or disability; caretakers of same; young single women discussing the absurdities of dating; mature single women discussing the absurdities of dating; artists; historians; sociologists; storytellers; therapists. Writers of poetry, prose, fiction, nonfiction. Traditionally published, self published, “aspiring.”
None of them, as far as I know, see themselves like this:
The radical democracy of Twitter (and some wonderful hashtag curators) made this very vibrant conversation possible. But the magic is in the links that are clicked on, and the posts that are read.
In August of this year, Kottke himself posted, briefly, “I knew if I waited around long enough, blogging would be the hot new thing again.”
And he cited three writers: Matthew Sippey, Lockhart Steele, Elizabeth Spiers – all of whom admitted that for a variety of reasons they “missed blogging,” and wanted to give it another go. Spiers’ reasons are probably closest to my own:
I like consistently writing for an audience and getting feedback. It helps me work out my arguments and thoughts about various issues and clarifies muddy thinking.
What about you?
What’s keeping you in the blogosphere, with its whiff of steampunk charm, in 2015? What’s keeping your blog alive?