Sunday, February 27th, 2011
A lot of pixels have been sprayed since the New York Times story headlined “Blogs Wane as the Young Drift to Sites Like Twitter.”
The essential data: “The Internet and American Life Project at the Pew Research Center found that from 2006 to 2009, blogging among children ages 12 to 17 fell by half; now 14 percent of children those ages who use the Internet have blogs. Among 18-to-33-year-olds, the project said in a report last year, blogging dropped two percentage points in 2010 from two years earlier.”
Does this spell the end of blogging? In fact, the decline in blogs as a place for random musings and trivia is wonderful news for blogs and their readers. We already had WAY too much noise. Now with Twitter and Facebook siphoning off the trivia and momentary mind-burps, blogs are increasingly the safe-harbor for deeper dives into a topic, whether that topic is books or gossip or politics.
Clive Thompson captured the new blogging ecosystem perfectly a few weeks back in Wired:
When something newsworthy happens today — Brett Favre losing to the Jets, news of a new iPhone, a Brazilian election runoff — you get a sudden blizzard of status updates. These are just short takes, and they’re often half-baked or gossipy and may not even be entirely true. But that’s OK; they’re not intended to be carefully constructed. Society is just chewing over what happened, forming a quick impression of What It All Means.
The long take is the opposite: It’s a deeply considered report and analysis, and it often takes weeks, months, or years to produce. It used to be that only traditional media, like magazines or documentaries or books, delivered the long take. But now, some of the most in-depth stuff I read comes from academics or businesspeople penning big blog essays, Dexter fans writing 5,000-word exegeses of the show, and nonprofits like the Pew Charitable Trusts producing exhaustively researched reports on American life.
And Matt Mullenweg of Wordpress also noted that the data isn’t actually that dire. Fewer people may be blogging, but the number of people reading blogs is growing.
The title was probably written by an editor, not the author, because as soon as the article gets past the two token teenagers who tumble and Facebook instead of blogging, the stats show all the major blogging services growing — even Blogger whose global “unique visitors rose 9 percent, to 323 million,” meaning it grew about 6 Foursquares last year alone. (In the same timeframe WordPress.com grew about 80 million uniques according to Quantcast.)