Thursday, December 19, 2013

Jason Kottke on the death of the blog

From the Nieman Journalism Lab:

"Sometime in the past few years, the blog died. In 2014, people will finally notice. Sure, blogs still exist, many of them are excellent, and they will go on existing and being excellent for many years to come. But the function of the blog, the nebulous informational task we all agreed the blog was fulfilling for the past decade, is increasingly being handled by a growing number of disparate media forms that are blog-like but also decidedly not blogs.
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."

I both agree and disagree with Jason Kottke's analysis.

Although the term "blog" is uniquely and exclusively associated with the Internet, the blog is actually just another mode of long-form writing. 

And writing takes work--if you're going to do it with any degree of consistency.In order to maintain a blog, you have to write essays--the very thing that so many people hated to do back in high school English class. 

Not everyone has the time, inclination, or discipline to do this. 

Nor should they, by the way. I have a friend who builds his own computers. That simply doesn't interest me--I'd rather buy a finished product from Dell or Apple. 

I don't regard myself as "lazy" or "inferior" because I want to use a computer without actually building my own. Likewise, I don't think less of people who want to maintain an online presence of some sort, but who don't necessarily want to write 300- to 1,500-word essays on a regular basis.

Prior to the appearance of Facebook, Twitter, etc. a great number of people were starting blogs, I suspect, because blogs were the only way to maintain an online presence. Now, as Kottke notes, there are many choices--most of which don't require extensive writing. 

This doesn't mean that "the blog is dead". It simply means that henceforth, blogging will tend to be the domain of people who actually want to write online, whereas all of these other services will provide more convenient ways for everyone else to simply maintain an online presence.

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