An essay by Valleywag writer Paul Boutin is proclaiming the death of the blog. It’s become too professionalized, is his argument. Clearly, in the age of Facebook and Twitter, who needs a blog to get your ideas across, right?
Cut-rate journalists and underground marketing campaigns now drown out the authentic voices of amateur wordsmiths. It’s almost impossible to get noticed, except by hecklers. And why bother? The time it takes to craft sharp, witty blog prose is better spent expressing yourself on Flickr, Facebook, or Twitter.
I got a couple of e-mails this week from friend/colleagues concerned about my continued relevance: “so what do you think of this guy, blogging queen?”
Well, to be honest, Boutin is right to a point. Blogging as we once knew it, is absolutely dead. The personal blog, The blog-as-diary used to be akin to the photocopied-and-stapled ‘zine, an oasis of personal expression. Grammar, spelling and accuracy were sacrificed on the altar of authenticity; it was a place for non-media professionals to become the media and reach the masses (or at least the Internet masses) No more. Internet audiences are as fragmented as traditional media ones and no individual starting a personal blog these days should expect to find an audience bigger than their circle of friends.
And that’s OK. Because for the professional and semi-professional blog, the topical blog, the blog-as-online ‘zine (like Boutin’s own Valleywag) it’s a new Golden Age. And there is is still plenty of room for blogging as a way share ideas and hash out concepts, to comment on local news and world affairs.
Topical blogs like Brooklyn Vegan‘s indie music coverage or Pandagon‘s progressive political commentary, local blogs like Chicago’s Gapers Block or professional news blogs like Mashable, even corporate blogs like the official Google blog (yeah – I read it, I love it. What’s it to ya?) This is what blogging is now, blogging as news, blogging as taste making, blogging as media.
And I say hurray! Bring it on! Hurray for blogs with editors, original content and citeable sources! It’s good to see evolution. And unlike Boutin, I don’t think the evolution of blogging means that there’s no longer room at the table for people who just want to write. Far from it, I think if anything, many traditional media professionals are the ones scrambling to adopt a style “The Bloggers” have been doing like pros for years now.
The personal stars of the blog world, the Heather Armstrongs of the world, have been found. Blogging has evolved as a medium, as all media do. I don’t think this evolution will affect the old workhorses of the so-called “blogosphere,” the ones who started blogs back in 2002 or earlier, who now blog out of habit, or because they have something new and creative to share, or they have an audience of friends and acquaintances and random people who read regularly.
This shift is giving an opportunity for some of the under-employed media professionals who have long toiled in the blog world to get a pay upgrade to, like, actual money. And it’s still a lot more accessible to newcomers who want an audience than the old-boys club of mainstream media. It’s still a medium where if you’ve got something to say, and you’re good at saying it, there’s a place for you here.
Old-school blogging is not what it was. Good. It’s a brave new blogging world! So, yeah, I’ll cu on Facebook. Just as soon as I’m done reading HuffPo.
Edit: Comments on this post have been turned off due to spam.