Are the New York Times’ reports of the Death of Blogging greatly exaggerated?

rip“Blogs Wane as the Young Drift to Sites Like Twitter” claims a recent article in the New York Times, based on some statistics gather by Pew Center research that appear to show a percentage decline in self-identified bloggers among the younger age groups, and stagnation among the more middle-aged set.

Is Blogging dying, or at least on the decline?

The article has sparked a good bit of debate, prompting e.g. GigaOM to retort: “Blogging Is Dead Just Like the Web Is Dead .”

But rather than latch on to the specifics of some percentage gains or losses, that may well be semantically arguable as pointed out in the Times piece, I believe the key quote to be this:

Former bloggers said they were too busy to write lengthy posts and were uninspired by a lack of readers. Others said they had no interest in creating a blog because social networking did a good enough job keeping them in touch with friends and family.

Which is both an argument for the type of Curation-plus-commentary-plus-community activity I’ve been advocating for on my current “mini-blogging” platform of choice,, as well as apt to highlight what I have come to call “the Content Creator’s Plight” or Dilemma (I’ve been cooking up a longer, substantive post on this for a few months, but ironically always find myself dragged in other directions…):

It is difficult enough to keep up with our 21st century information “maelstrom” to begin with. And to arrest the flow of the real-time Web long enough in one’s mind to write much of substance on rapidly emergent, “newsy” topics, so that a post might persist in providing value for longer than a day or two. The other day I curated a post that aptly coined the term “content decay” in this regard.

In a way, it represents a massive act of will, especially in the face of what is now a fair number of professional “blogging machines” (like Techcrunch), that do nothing else.

Now add to that the fact that without already having sufficiently large, built-in audience, which very few bloggers ultimately achieve, the motivation for these “acts of will” is very quickly used up… Notice the second sentence in the above quote, which points out that many find such a built-in audience, and hence at least perceived affirmation, on their social networks of choice.

A service like Amplify, and intelligent curation tools in general, can solve at least the first issue, and while many of its curation peers are neglecting the community/conversation angle, this is where Amplify ultimately shines in solving the second problem to some extent as well.

Going back to the original question, one could say that blogging is most definitely evolving, though also certainly still alive and well:

[B]logging is not so much dying as shifting with the times. Entrepreneurs have taken some of the features popularized by blogging and weaved them into other kinds of services.

Ultimately, people are still expressing themselves online, in however long or short a form (though the trend has certainly gone toward the Twitter- or SMS-like micro-blogging), and the main differences are merely the User Interface (UI) metaphors used.

For example, Amplify has been wrestling with the issues of providing easy-to-use, elegant metaphors, while still maintaining a modicum of depth and relevance for conversation. Bigger services such as Tumblr (another mini-blogging tool) or Twitter have grown so rapidly precisely due to the extreme, push-button simplicity with which content could be created or curated, and passed along socially.

As I’ve argued before, Simplicity Wins, but there is also a fine line to walk to provide both simplicity, as well as still allow for the depth that at least some of us crave.

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  • Christopher Drinkut

    (Blogs dead? Bah, not yet.)

    Seriously, I enjoy my amplify account too. It I have thought really exemplifies this 'evolution' mentioned. Albeit, I'm hoping to (and I guess planning to) see the blogs maintain their purpose and presence in the scheme of things. … You know though what I think really could pull us away from blogs.. is if we start video/conferencing in real-time with others via our handhelds. … how about the ground services like and including are pushing? Compelling.

    .. good post. Thanks!

  • AlexSchleber

    There are real issues here, and I tend to agree that the NYT got caught up in some of the fuzzy semantics of the study, and went with the overly sensationalist headline. Long-form isn't going away by any means, but there are real issues with how long it still takes to write a substantial blog post, insert all of the links and quotes, as well as maybe a post picture and/or accompanying image evidence, etc.

    That's why Scoble et al. have been arguing for better curation tools, that should make longer, amalgamated posts with plenty of quotes and media much easier to do. I've been talking to the Amplify team about a few simple things they could add to their excellent clipping tool/bookmarklet, to move almost ahead of anyone else in the field. Alas, while they've promised to do it eventually, they've been busy with their mobile app, and some deeper commenting/conversation issues.

    Storify has the right idea, but it forces you too tighly into their model, where text from e.g. a referenced blog post is merely excerpted from the top of the post in standardized length, NOT customizable (last I checked, which granted was a few months ago). But the model is on the right track as far as ease of use is concerned.

    I'd still like to end up with a good old blog-post-like…well…post, that can be syndicated around the Web if desired. Asf.

    Hadn't check out Yobongo yet, will do…