Comic by xkcd
Blogging used to be the future. Now it’s kinda the present and that, rapidly enough, has a way of becoming the past.
Blogging used to be the easiest way to express yourself online, but it’s not anymore. Tumblr and Facebook and Twitter are easier and you can reach more people faster. It took my like 10 years to get like 300 core readers, daily (about a 1000 total). On Facebook you can buy that amount of fans (thru ads) for about Rs. 5000. Times are a’changing.
I don’t think blogs are dead anymore than journalism is dead. Things just move down the supply chain. Blogs are now a more ‘serious’ medium than a disruptive one. Major companies have blogs as do ‘major’ people, it’s becoming almost establishment. However, my advice to people starting out has changed.
Ease Of Entry
Back in the day, as in 2005, I recommended that any company or charity I advised start a blog, it was simply the easiest way to get their message out there. Now I just tell them to start a Facebook page and – though this is less effective – a Twitter account. I say Twitter is less effective because you can’t spend on advertising, it has to grow organically, much like a blog (without, say, AdWords).
On Facebook they can get out there fast, reach people faster, and know more about the people they’re reaching. If I was me starting out afresh I’d probably do that. Just be on Facebook. Or maybe not.
I still like the freedom a blog provides. It’s like having property. I can potter about in the garden, rearrange things, break stuff. It’s also a space I own, and can monetize, theoretically. I have my own way of typing stuff (in HTML), a particular clunky way of adding images, my own idiosyncratic layout.
Sometimes I envy the ease of Tumblr or Facebook, just put the text, a link to the photo and go. I have to find different sizes, manually make excerpts, etc. Then I have to wait for people to visit or stumble upon my domain, which happens quite often through Facebook and Twitter these days. I used to think journalists were dinosaurs, but I’m beginning to look a bit Neanderthal myself.
Evolution Of Media
This whole idea that evolution proceeds in a straight line is, however, incorrect. The value of a medium isn’t its growth rates or its size but its adaptation to a particular niche. People say that humans evolved from apes, as in we evolved from chimpanzees, but it isn’t quite like that. Chimps and we evolved from a common ancestor, which may have looked a lot like modern chimps (more than us). That was a niche that was working and chimpanzees stayed there. They’re not any less evolved than us, theyre just adapted to a different scene.
With media, it’s not that blogs are replacing newspapers or tumblr is replacing blogs. It’s an ecosystem and these things all co-exist, and depend upon each other. Without newspapers I don’t have too much to talk about, and without blogs like me, there isn’t uber-much to discuss on social media. While the growth of respective parts of the food chain may slow down, while they may lose monopolies or particular niches, their value does not necessarily decline.
Of course, the value can decline. Newspapers are no longer THE source, they’ve lost that monopoly. Blogs are also a bit harder to start and maintain than Tumblr or just updating FB or Twitter, so a lot of people (bloggers like myself included) have migrated some functions there. That said, I think the blog is a unique form in that in can jack-knife into many roles – ranging from something like a Tumblr to a full blown newspaper. In that sense, I hope the medium will be long-lasting and adapted well. Not dominant, but not disappearing. Like the cockroach.