Whither blogging

Whither blogging

Just two or three years ago, blogging was being called the sword to slay the mainstream media with. Independent journalists could write and publish articles online and then broadcast it to an audience of millions at zero cost. No intermediaries with biases, no editors with agendas and no media tycoons with vested interests could come in the way of the crusading truth teller.

Several popular bloggers and blogs achieved quasi-mainstream status within or alongside conventional media. Newspapers all over the world invested in blogs of their own.

But now it appears that the sword is not as sharp as it looked. A series of developments in 2010 indicate that the popularity of blogging is declining. The actual rate of this decline is up for debate, but there is no question that blogging has lost steam.

Last week the Pew Research Center in Washington released the Generations 2010 research report that looks at the online behaviour of Americans across different age groups. It says: “Few of the activities covered in this report have decreased in popularity for any age group, with the notable exception of blogging. Only half as many online teens work on their own blog as did in 2006, and… adults ages 18-33 have also seen a modest decline…"

Instead what were all Americans doing online? Email and social networking.

For many aficionados, blogs were a platform to broadcast their thoughts to other like-minded people.

In most cases, social networks have proved to be much better at this. Facebook allows you to build this network with astonishing speed and then communicate with the network in multiple ways. Micro-blogging sites such as Twitter and Tumblr are best used for short updates, but can be handled even with a mobile phone. One study published in January this year said that the average Twitter user gained around 120 followers for every year he/she stayed on the network.

All this has come at the cost of consumers and producers of blogs.

If you are a budding blogger, there is no need to lose heart though. Good blogs of all kinds, especially specialist ones, will continue to thrive.

But it still makes good sense to learn how to say it all in 140 characters or less.

Is blogging losing its use? Tell us at views@livemint.com