Not only are there a lot of blogs that have been abandoned but those that are still capably owned are losing their value.
It could just be only my own opinion, as I couldn't get any statistical backup from Forrresters or Gartner, but I believe blogs are suffering from fatigue in quantity, quality and identity. Let's explore.
1) Quantity - Steve Rubel from Micro Persuasion essayed a smart post mid-last year "When Less is More and More is Less" and he was naturally right (he has a 92% smart post rate). Social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, microblogging sites like Twitter and commercialized and career bloggers like Denton's Gawker Media/Batelle's Federated Media have made providing value to blog readers through frequency a fool's game. On one side, tools like Twitter feed our ADD-lives with effortless transmission and on the other end, the paid bloggers are heavily incented to find a range of good stuff sometimes ten deep before you even wake up to go to the office. Bloggers who have real jobs can't compete and thus are naturally reducing their frequency in search of other pursuits.
Quantity being down is not a bad thing as the hope would be that it would lead to:
- smarter, more informed posts
- longer treatises that go deeper on specific subjects
- elimination of the noise that invades people's feed readers
but we've also seen a reduction in ...
2) Quality - once again, Rubel authored an intelligent post at the start of this year "The Lazysphere and The Decline of Deep Blogging" - it would be one thing if quality was down but now like lemmings in order to shore up our social currency and a bit of blog frequency, we all go to the same headlines and chirp in our two cents. Not great value - there's probably a Surowiecki companion book in here "The Ignorance of Blog Crowds" .
Unfortunately, a lot of blogs, some popular, have become proxies for Digg or Stumble Upon or in the tech world, Techcrunch or Techmeme. For those that still try to write fresh, quality-conscious posts, blog fatigue has set in with quality of posts the victim and it's likely for four reasons:
- the death of the hobbyist blogger - good, passion-based bloggers have all got more professional jobs or speaking gigs in their respective fields meaning more time with clients, internal stuff and consequently, less time, energy and in some cases, candour in researching, conceptualizing and writing their blogs
- age-itis - once you've had a blog up and running for two years , you've identified yourself with a living trail of an agenda... the truly great blogs, surface great new ideas within that agenda and perhaps even expand the box they play in (see Armano on Customer Experience); many however live in the wake of their past and are stuck in recrafting posts they could have easily written about 3 years ago - the blog readers have caught up to them and their market has passed them by
- the 168 hour work week - the cruel reality is that the week 's length is the same for all of us...if you consider of that - 42 hours will be spent sleeping, 50 will be spent working, 15 will be spent eating, 25 will be spent consuming media, a bit of time on family , lifestyle pursuits and now,the flood of other competing offline (conferecnes, seminars, webinars, camps) and online networking activity, it doesn't leave too much time for the two hours that it tastes to write a well thought out post
- the schoolyard clique - a lot of blogging activity has become a game of "passing notes"in the schoolyard - Scoble passes one to Calcanis who trades it off to Arrington. If you want to see the list of 50 name dropped bloggers , have a boo at Kawasaki's ego blogger list. Don't get me wrong some of these bloggers are great but the sum universe of insight rests well beyond the blogging "hit industry" and some of the best stuff is trapped in The Long Tail. Unlike musicians however,after months perhaps years of not getting noticed, good bloggers that don't have the location, networking ability or precleared credentials to generate gobs of traffic and recognition give up.
...plus we have the final issue of...
3) Identity - I love Todd Andrlik's Ad Age Power 150, it's a great source of inspiration for the top blogs. The irony is the farther I slide down Todd's list, the more business I get. If I really wanted to vault up the list, I would essentially do 5 things : 1) link bait all over the place, 2) chum up to the NYC and Silicon Valley guys higher up the list, 3) write a book (and thus be asked to attend even more conferences) and get lower quality but freebie traffic, 4) keep my blog frequency up and 5) create eyebrow raising post headlines and slam popular people I know with inside scoops. The fact is, it's not worth my time and I don't think the blogosphere would improve because of it.
Regrettably, some of the higher rungs on the list that get linked and followed are doing exactly that. I just scrolled through the top 10 and trying to be concept-neutral, I was not surprised to find 4 of top 10 to be painful to read...their posts usually include:
- so my fourth recap on a conference I just attended...
- when I was hanging with Shel, Stowe and Zucker....
- I must state the obvious and you must believe it - "the conversation is everything" (and other broadstroke, meaningless headlines that will get the chinwaggers talking)
- can I just keep going with this Sarah Lacey story (because we all know schaedenfreude is a traffic builder)
With so many of the stale-dated incumbents hogging the social media high ground and search engine traffic, where is their room for the young and hungry bloggers to get in the game? Blogs are l;osing their ability to incubate change-driven, wide-eyed mavericks and game changers. Increasingly, they're reverting to YouTube to tell their stories and social networks to broadcast their experience, jumping right past this blogging thing and leaving the neighborhood to the more aged and increassingly crusty curmudgeons.
What do we do to stop this erosion of social media intellect? Somebody like TED needs to create an "Ideaosphere" that includes blogs at all levels of the social media caste system that are putting forward great ideas and content. Hopefully, a link and traffic-agnostic blog portal would be able to create the
'Atlantic Monthly" of the blog world - a place where discriminating minds could go and be inspired by fresh and progressive voice.