Saturday, March 21, 2009

Does blogging still matter?


With microblogging service Twitter all the rage now, long-form blogging seems to have gone out of style.
Critics of Twitter say it exemplifies the short-attention spans of American … Hey, did you hear that Chris Brown might leak a sex tape he made with Rihanna?
Anyway, Twitter’s like a service for attention deficit dis … I can’t believe what Gwyneth Paltrow just said. What a stuck-up bitch.
What was I saying?
Oh, yeah, traditional blogging.
I was late to blogging. I started Tech-media-tainment on Google’s Blogger service last November and just passed 100 posts the other day. I started a sister site One Stop Video about a week ago.
In an essay for Wired magazine, posted Oct. 20, 2008, writer Paul Boutin makes the argument that blogs are dead. He says blogs have been co-opted by mainstream media and commercial interests. Twitter, Flickr and Facebook are better ways for average Joes and Janes to express themselves now, he claims.
Well, since Boutin wrote his controversial article, corporations have flocked to those other services too. Dell, Amazon.com, Starbucks and scads more companies are all on Twitter, offering discounts, special deals and posting press releases. They’re on Flickr and Facebook as well.
Boutin makes some good points about Web logs. But he focuses mostly on people trying to make a name for themselves and get noticed. True, it’s very hard to get noticed in the sea of blogs out there. But for some, that’s not the main reason to blog. Some people just use it as a creative outlet and to share thoughts with friends and family.
I’ve been sharing photos and personal stories online for more than 10 years. In January 1999, I made my first Web pages on GeoCities to joke about a ski vacation I took with a friend.
I ended up creating three free GeoCities accounts over the years because I kept running out of storage space for my photos. Bandwidth issues were a big drawback. Use too much and Yahoo (owner of GeoCities) would temporarily suspend access to your Web pages.
Ultimately I switched to a paid account on Flickr (also owned by Yahoo) in March 2005 to share and store personal photos. It’s a terrific service. It makes organizing and sharing photos fun and easy.
As for blogging, I’m not sure how long I’ll stick with it. I mostly got started to learn more about new media journalism and to prepare for the start of a tech blog at Investors.com, owned by my employer, Investor's Business Daily.
The Web is littered with dead blogs or blogs with infrequent postings.
Up-to-date blogs are usually filed with personal stuff, family photos, or people talking about their feelings or their pets.
Hopefully Tech-media-tainment and One Stop Video are more compelling than those blogs.
But who cares? Practically nobody is reading this anyway.
(T-shirt in above photograph available from Despair Inc.)

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