Thinking about launching your own blog? Here's some friendly advice: Don't. And if you've already got one, pull the plug.
Writing a weblog today isn't the bright idea it was four years ago. The blogosphere, once a freshwater oasis of folksy self-expression and clever thought, has been flooded by a tsunami of paid bilge. Cut-rate journalists and underground marketing campaigns now drown out the authentic voices of amateur wordsmiths. It's almost impossible to get noticed, except by hecklers. And why bother? The time it takes to craft sharp, witty blog prose is better spent expressing yourself on Flickr, Facebook, or Twitter.
Personal sites have been shoved aside by professional ones. Most are essentially online magazines: The Huffington Post. Engadget. TreeHugger. A stand-alone commentator can't keep up with a team of pro writers cranking out up to 30 posts a day.
Hey, didnt you hear? Blogs are so 2004.
Wow thats pretty persuasive, isnt it? ... I guess I had better stop blogging then. To tell you the truth, Im kind of surprised that Paul didnt put a headline like Twitter and Facebook have killed blogging on his piece. Things are always killing other things in the kind of world Boutin describes.
And what evidence do we have that blogs arent the place to be any more? Just this: Jason Calacanis quit blogging and moved to an email newsletter, and Robert Scoble is mostly doing video posts and Twittering.
The gravitation of people like Calacanas and Scoble to things like Twitter says more about the individual than about the product. They are mediocre journalists who at one time could draw an audience for reasons other than their journalistic skills. My guess is that they don't even understand their own celebrity status, and with it fading, they continue to shop for a way to get it back.
I used to read Scoble because he was a good source of information about what Microsoft was up to. I used to read Calacanas because thought he did something transformative at AOL (turns out I was wrong). They both have short attention spans, which think is a bad combination when combined with a journalism degree.
Anyway, the plight of the former celebrity bloggers has nothing to do with these products, which if they succeed will be due to "ordinary" people using them. Ordinary people have short attention spans too, especially when it comes to using computers. They just want to get on, do something and get it over with. In that regard, a picture posting service that lets you add text is probably more productive for them than a blogging service that lets you add pictures.
Wired has now officially claimed that blogs are passé and I should be Twittering and Facebooking more.
I've learned a few things about blogging ... The Internet moves in mysterious ways ... Digg matters, but I haven't decided how much ... I'm not sure if quality matters ... Posting multiple times per day is not the answer ... You have to blog about what people want to read about ... Just make a list.
While I dont disagree with some of his opening words, I do take issue with his black-and-white stance.
Its true that blogging for attention is a lot harder than it was four years ago. The blogosphere is crowded with spam blogs, PR disasters, and next-to-useless sites, and some blog services, such as Technorati, are arguably a lot less useful than they once were. Yet its not impossible to be noticed.
Its also true that the amount of crap bloggers have to deal with has increased exponentially, but that just goes with the territory, as far as Im concerned.
When examining the spectrum of blogs out there, personal blogs appear to be hurting. Many of the top 100 blogs as listed on Technorati are owned by media companies, including the number one Huffington Post. As an individual person, rising above the noise to make your voice heard has become almost impossible. Yet there are still instances where breaking news is heard from a lesser known blog.
But there are two primary reasons that blogging isn't going to die anytime soon. Twitter or Facebook are great for capturing simple ideas, or for "drive-by" comments. But they are useless when it comes to capturing a cohesive train of thought, or for explaining complex ideas.
Sort of reminiscent of Tracy Morgan on 30 Rock when he became a Republican and did a PSA discouraging African-Americans from going to the polls because "you could play two games of pool in the amount of time it takes to vote."
Because hey, the industry is tough right now, and Boutin would much rather the young generation spend their A.D.D. addled brainpower engaging in online activities that have no chance of ever competing in the Internet blog industry. When was the last time you heard anyone besides Mark Zuckerberg getting famous off of Facebook?
Wired used to be cool--at one time it interviewed guys like Linus Torvalds. But today, it kinda sunk to a new level of link-baiting ... (yes, I'm going for the link-bait).
What Paul doesn't seem to remember is how Google used to not pick up blog posts from small bloggers, usually because the SEO was pretty awful. A lot of that changed with Google's acquisition of Blogger and Wordpress's crackin' good SEO ... If you cultivate good keywords and solid posts in a particular niche, you will come up in search more often....AND you will knock out the transparently bad marketing blogs and splogs.
In order to continue his point, Boutin goes on to invoke the old incivility bugaboo ... pot, meet kettle ... And, if you think about it, if blogging's dead, isn't Boutin writing the obituary for his own blogging career?