This article in the NY Times caught my eye today (some excerpts below):
Blogs were once the outlet of choice for people who wanted to express themselves online. But with the rise of sites like Facebook and Twitter, they are losing their allure for many people — particularly the younger generation.
The Internet and American Life Project at the Pew Research Center found that from 2006 to 2009, blogging among children ages 12 to 17 fell by half; now 14 percent of children those ages who use the Internet have blogs. Among 18-to-33-year-olds, the project said in a report last year, blogging dropped two percentage points in 2010 from two years earlier.
Former bloggers said they were too busy to write lengthy posts and were uninspired by a lack of readers. Others said they had no interest in creating a blog because social networking did a good enough job keeping them in touch with friends and family.
Blogs went largely unchallenged until Facebook reshaped consumer behavior with its all-purpose hub for posting everything social. Twitter, which allows messages of no longer than 140 characters, also contributed to the upheaval.
No longer did Internet users need a blog to connect with the world. They could instead post quick updates to complain about the weather, link to articles that infuriated them, comment on news events, share photos or promote some cause — all the things a blog was intended to do.
Indeed, small talk shifted in large part to social networking, said Elisa Camahort Page, co-founder of BlogHer, a women’s blog network. Still, blogs remain a home of more meaty discussions, she said.
“If you’re looking for substantive conversation, you turn to blogs,” Ms. Camahort Page said. “You aren’t going to find it on Facebook, and you aren’t going to find it in 140 characters on Twitter.”
Lee Rainie, director of the Internet and American Life Project, says that blogging is not so much dying as shifting with the times. Entrepreneurs have taken some of the features popularized by blogging and weaved them into other kinds of services.
“The act of telling your story and sharing part of your life with somebody is alive and well — even more so than at the dawn of blogging,” Mr. Rainie said. “It’s just morphing onto other platforms.”
The blurring of lines is readily apparent among users of Tumblr. Although Tumblr calls itself a blogging service, many of its users are unaware of the description and do not consider themselves bloggers — raising the possibility that the decline in blogging by the younger generation is merely a semantic issue.
But some blogging services like Tumblr and WordPress seem to have avoided any decline. Toni Schneider, chief executive of Automattic, the company that commercializes the WordPress blogging software, explains that WordPress is mostly for serious bloggers, not the younger novices who are defecting to social networking.
In any case, he said bloggers often use Facebook and Twitter to promote their blog posts to a wider audience. Rather than being competitors, he said, they are complementary.
While the younger generation is losing interest in blogging, people approaching middle age and older are sticking with it. Among 34-to-45-year-olds who use the Internet, the percentage who blog increased six points, to 16 percent, in 2010 from two years earlier, the Pew survey found. Blogging by 46-to-55-year-olds increased five percentage points, to 11 percent, while blogging among 65-to-73-year-olds rose two percentage points, to 8 percent.
There’s quite a lot of food for discussion there. Some might argue that a migration to Facebook and Twitter and away from longer form blogging could be seen as an indication that youth are becoming more illiterate, perhaps. I don’t think so, I think there’s always been some division there and if someone was to gather up statistics, I don’t think we’d be seeing any drastic hockey stick or cliff plunge.
The bit about “uninspired by a lack of readers” hits home for me, but not because I lack for readers, my stats are consistently quite okay. I find myself often uninspired by a lack of comments – my blog posts are read on average by somewhere between 500 and 1,000 readers but seem to generate about a dozen comments and usually less than that. (I’m guilty of not commenting on others’ blogs as often as I should, one side effect of doing all my blog-reading via RSS.) Sometimes excessively negative comments get me down; rationally I know that they shouldn’t but I’m only human.
I know I’m talking to the converted here. Obviously everyone reading this still reads blogs to some extent and many of you also write blogs. I know of at least one person who has basically gone over to Twitter and stopped blogging. I’m curious how this is trending for you? Those who write blogs, are you writing less? Those who read blogs, are you reading less? Is your RSS packed with more feeds than you can possibly read in a day (mine is) or have you been trimming that down as well?