I read David Weinberger’s recent article about What Blogging Was with great interest, mostly because I have been blogging about as long as David has. I started this site in Oct. of 2001, and remember all those heady days and discussions about how blogging was changing the world. As David points out so well in his article, a lot of what we thought would change, didn’t. Yet, a lot that we didn’t, and really couldn’t, predict, did change.
For me, blogging was about connections. Always is, and always has been. That was the promise of the Net for me, the ability to connect and share ideas with people who I otherwise would not know. At the time I was working in IT for a small office, and my “peers” were other IT people who worked in their own organizations. Believe it or not, prior to the advent of blogging, it was rather difficult to actually meet any of them. I knew that there were other IT folks out there working by themselves, but I didn’t actually know any of them until I started blogging about my job and the things I was learning as I ran into your typical technical difficulties.
To say that blogging is dead, or failed, because it’s still only a small portion of the population blogs, or subscribes to blogs, is kind of missing the point. Blogging was, and still is, a place to put yourself and your ideas out to the world, and connect with other people who want to discuss those ideas. It mattered not what those ideas were, blogging was simply a platform for them.
That particular platform may not have taken off to the point where everyone has a blog, but I would argue that a lot more people “blog” than think they do. Back in the early 2000’s, being a blogger meant that I had my own site, whether it was my own domain or something on blogspot, etc. I had a tool that made updating the site very easy, people could leave comments or link to my post when they wanted to extend the conversation, and if you wanted to know who I was following, you could see that in the blogroll.
In 2014, many people still have their own site, but far more have Facebook profiles, Twitter handles, Google Plus profiles, etc. and use them in very much the same way. They are places where it’s easy as heck to share ideas through status messages, people can comment back to those messages, and if you want to know whose ideas I think are important, you check out who I’m “connected” with on those platforms.
I think blogging was simply the precursor to social networks. What we do on social networks is very similar to what we did with blogs. We share ideas, we pass around good links to our followers, we engage in conversations that would have been impossible to have prior to the existence of the internet, and we don’t have to simply trust that one or two sources are giving us all of our news about a given subject.
So, saying blogging is dead because the exact form isn’t as popular as we once thought it would be is a lot like those who say RSS is dead because Google Reader went away. Sure, subscribing to individual RSS feeds might not be as popular as it once was, but the concepts of RSS are behind everything we do on the Net now. Twitter, Facebook’s timeline, Flipboard, etc. are all using those concepts. Those are hardly “dead”. It’s RSS, in a more modern, deeply embedded, form. Blogging, likewise, isn’t dead, it’s simply become so embedded into what we do online every day, that we don’t realize it’s simply taken on new forms.