So, I have a quiet weekend, smug in myself that I am one of the new digiliterati. Then on Monday, whilst waiting for my stepson’s car radiator to be flushed at the garage, I spy a page three article in The Australian. Regular readers from the UK will no doubt be aware of better uses for space on page three than a column on how blogging is dead.
Sigh. What now?
It turns out that the death of the blog has been reported (in a slightly triumphant manner?). Taking as evidence the blogs of three celebrities — Lindsay Lohan, Melanie Griffith and Barbra Streisand — that have well and truly been neglected, and the reporter (unnamed but hailing from Murdoch’s Sunday Times; The Australian is also a Murdoch publication) seems to have jumped all over them as proof of the demise of blogging.
“Yet the Gartner research firm also concluded that the trend would level off this year, with perhaps 100 million people still blogging worldwide. Other analysts predict that number will fall to 30 million.”
It is true — blogging has sort of levelled out and no longer seems to enjoy the phenomenal rate of growth that it once did, but to me that signifies something: that the number of people prepared to be ‘thought leaders’ and put themselves out on display for a public kicking and humiliation has reached a sort of peak at the moment. If one accepts that it is only 10% of a population that is happy to ‘go on show’ — public speaking, acting, performing, writing (in whatever form), and so on — then with around 30 million ‘maintained and active’ blogs would equate to a total audience of around 300 million spread across most of the western nations, Japan, China, Asia and the Latin countries. Not a bad size audience, really.
But what happens when Africa gets widespread, unfettered access? Or the middle east?
Don’t wipe off blogging yet, my friends! As one of the commenters to The Australian’s blog piece about it says,
“Darryl Mason of Sydney (26 March at 05:12 PM)
Absurd. Blogs have revolutionised news media in only a few years and caused massive headaches for those who want to keep dissent to a minimum – See Iran and China, where bloggers are being jailed solely because they have such influence amongst young people.
Numerous stories that now dominate American media, in particular, began with postings on small-audience blogs (like the pet food scandal and the sacked attorneys outrage now threatening to bring down the US attorney general), while a novelist like Cory Doctorow has used his blog, Boing Boing, to sell hundreds of thousands of copies of his novels.
Celebrity blogs were pure marketing from the get go, and failed on the whole because they didn’t offer up enough insight, passion or freebies (music, video clips, exclusive interviews etc), and failed to regularly update.
No doubt there are tens of millions of blogs out there that are updated less than once or twice a month, and many that have big visitor numbers but not a lot of commenters.
Blogs have a long way to go before they reach the potential that Rupert Murdoch outlined in a ground-breaking speech a couple of years back, where he said that the future of news would be built around blogs (like this Murdoch owned site is now built around ‘What Do You Think?’ blogs)
There are lots of interesting comments on the blog — some ‘for’ blogs, some ‘against’. What is interesting is that a dialogic process is taking place in the mainstream media, on a new media platform. Dialogic processes, traditionally, is something that newspapers are quite poor at allowing, as you can only fit a certain number of Letters to the Editor on a page but fit as many comments on a blog as you like.
Mind you, there are those who argue that a ‘blog’ doesn’t exist at all. So there! [author pokes tongue out and laughs along with you]
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