blogging, brian clark, copyblogger, dangerous intersection, duncan riley, mike licht, mudflats, nicholas carr, notionscapital, paul boutin, sarah palin, the economist, the inquistr, twitter, valleywag, wired magazine
I don’t know how Wired magazine manages to do this. While I generally can’t get enough of what’s in its pages, sometimes one of its writers will say something that so ticks me off that I want to hurl the magazine across the room. Usually, it comes in the form of some holier-than-thou, geek-speak prognostication, and, boy, is there one in this month’s Wired. (It’s the November 8, 2008, issue. It’s not online yet, or I’d link you to the offending article.)
According to Paul Boutin of Valleywag, blogging is dead. There are too many big name, commercial blogs out there for the little fish to make a go of it, so why bother? Don’t even think of starting a blog, if you haven’t got one, and if you do, Boutin says you should get rid of it. His opinion is that Twitter and social networks are the place to be, but that Twitter will be dead in a few years, too.
It’s at this point that I want to snort derisively and say, “Why are we bothering to be online at all if everything we do will be dead in two years? What a colossal waste of time and energy. Let’s all just head outside, play Kick-the-Can and forget about digital technology.”
Instead of having a snit fit, let me say in a more polite fashion that I’m not buying what Paul Boutin is selling. While I love Twitter, I can’t say everything I need to say in 140 characters. I need a blog for expounding, for creating substance with words. Not everyone has the patience or verbosity for a blog, and that’s okay. Twitter is great for the terse and busy.
What Boutin seems to be missing is that blogging has become its own distinct form of writing, like the essay, or short story, or poem. It has an intrinsic beauty arising from the brevity of most posts, the ability to insert links and visuals, and the timeliness of topics covered. Blogging, of course, is what the blogger wishes to make of it, whether he wants to reveal his heart through using the form as a personal journal, or she wants to report her take on the local news.
The act of blogging should not be confused with the application that allows one to blog. The blogging app, be it WordPress or Blogger or others, is easy-to-use and affords people a way to establish an online presence without having to learn to write code to create a website. While there are most certainly ways to keep improving blogging apps, why would anyone want to kill off such a brilliant tool?
Even though people may start abandoning their blogs based on Boutin’s advice, or because newer, quicker apps come along, those that appreciate the form should stick with it. There are plenty of people out there who still don’t know what a blog is, let alone Twitter. Should those who enjoy blogging deny these folks the potential of discovering blogs by ditching the effort before they arrive? Should those of us who want to blog in our personal, quirky ways cede the blogosphere solely to commercial interests? How undemocratic. (One of the best sources of background information on Sarah Palin has been Mudflats, a non-commercial, personal blog about Alaskan politics.)
One more question on the topic and then I’ll end this post: Will Paul Boutin give up blogging on Valleywag now that he’s pronouced blogging dead?
[Addendum: October 20, 2008, 5:29 p.m. CST: In what appears to be a display of multiple personality disorder on the part of Wired magazine, I found this report indicating that blogging is alive and well: http://blog.wired.com/business/2008/10/six-apart-ceo-d.html. Okay, people, make up your minds!]
[Addendum: October 25, 2008: Here is a fabulous, but long, piece about blogging as a form of writing by Andrew Sullivan of The Atlantic. It’s called “Why I Blog.” I found it through the blog Dangerous Intersection.]
[Addendum: November 9, 2008: Another article, this one from the Economist, gives a more nuanced look at the evolution of blogging.]
[Addendum: November 10, 2008: A post called “Who Killed the Blogosphere?” by Nicholas Carr. Found by way of a tweet from Brian Clark of Copyblogger. And another, also found through a tweet from Brian, this one by Duncan Riley at The Inquistr. And this one, also from The Inquisitr, blasting Paul Boutin for his pronouncement that blogging is dead.]
[Addendum: November 13, 2008: A post from NotionsCapital about how blogging keeps dying. Mike Licht, the blog’s author, has linked several more articles about the death of blogging within his post.]