Really interesting article from the Chicago Tribune about the stagnation of blog readership. And tons of interesting discussion about it. It seems like whenever anyone suggests that the blogging phenomenon is waning, the whole community comes out and bashes something with a collective large blunt object. Only human nature, I guess.
I’ve actually had many issues with the hype around the blogging phenomenon. I didn’t understand why it was such a big deal, and the posts from Scott Karp and Rex Hammock both suggest to me that blogging wasn’t worth the hype (though I’m sure both of those guys would disagree with my interpretation).
Scott Karp writes that blogging is not a business but just a tool that helps people publish. I totally agree with that. I think he’s totally right. But a lot of the hype around blogging early on was that it was a business. There were and still are a lot of start ups that are trying to make money on it. There are a ton of bloggers today that are trying to make money from their on ramblings.
Rex writes that we shouldn’t compare blogging to traditional media. He lists reasons why people should blog, including “because there are two or three people who actually matter in your life or work, or who share your passion for a particular topic”. (But if there are only 2-3 people who care, shouldn’t that be email?) The blogging hype came with the fantasy that anyone could be a publisher, a journalist, a reknowned scholar on things that they know. Rex and Scott know that that’s not true. And the blogging community is now saying that they never thought that in the past. Yeah, right.
Blogging doesn’t create an audience. Streaking to the 50-yard line during the Super Bowl and setting yourself on fire creates an audience. Blogging helps people who have an audience (whether you’re a journalist for CNN speaking to thousands/millions of people, or you’re sock-darning expert speaking to two people) speak to that audience more efficiently. (OK, and yes, it does help grow an audience a little bit.)
So if very few people are making money on blogs, and very few people are reading blogs, and a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?