Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Evolution of the BLOG

It's a new year, and now is a great time to take a step back and really look at just what the hell we're all doing here on the blogosphere. After taking two years off of blogging, I was amazed to see how everything had changed so drastically in such a short amount of time upon my return.

For those of you who started blogging around 2009 or 2010, that makes little sense. But to those bloggers that have been around longer, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Anyone here remember BlogExplosion? Or how about BlogMad? If you signed up for either one of these blog exchanges, you're probably waxing nostalgic right along with me. These were pretty awesome - and it was a great way to get traffic to your blog, although there was no money to be made in the end by these companies, and they both went the way of the 8-Track. Now, people "Follow" other blogs, creating an organic and ever-growing network.

Remember podcasting? I know, some of you still listen to them. Fewer yet actually still do it - if so, you are a rare thing indeed. Podcasting peaked around 2005-2006. I had my own podcast and was actually syndicated by a real podcasting/internet radio company around that time. But traditional podcasting is dead. Just go to iTunes and start browsing titles. What you'll find are many "dead" and abandoned podcasts. Video blogs (vlogs) have pretty much pushed podcasting back to the fringes of the blogging world.

New podcasting is not dead, but just completely different now. The word "podcast" is actually a bad word these days. Many people are creating "audio shows" and just placing them on their blogs or linking from social networking sites. But the days of using a "podcast aggregator" (other than iTunes) are gone.

And finally, what about blogging in general? It has evolved so quickly in such a short amount of time, it really makes my head spin. When I first started blogging in 2004-2005, the blogosphere was dominated by personal blogs. Think Doogie Howser typing about his life into his computer. A blog was simply an online diary. MySpace was just another format for blogging, along with Blogger (which had just been purchased by Google), TypePad, and WordPress.

Vox was another blogging platform that came to life in 2006, only to be dead by the Fall of 2010. But it played a huge part in what was to come - namely the combination of blogging and social networking.

Later, Facebook was born, but it was pretty much just college kids at the time. As blogging and social media began to converge, anonymity also began to disappear. People didn't have a separate online identity anymore. Your online presence was simply an extension of you.

Then social media and micro-blogging exploded onto the landscape, even converging. And those young people with blogs and short attention spans started Tweeting more and using Tumblr. Combine online chatting and social media and BAM, you got Twitter. Tumblr is a mix of traditional blogging and social media. Blogs weren't necessarily hurt by the transformation, but the nature of blogs and who read them changed. Take a look:

* The percentage of young people between 12-17 blogging dropped by HALF between 2006-2010.
* The percentage of adults between 18-33 blogging dropped by only 2% in that same time span
* The percentage of adults between 34-50 that blogged INCREASED by 6%

I have always written "longer" posts. And I'm pretty sure a lot of younger people don't want to take the time to read something longer than 120 words these days, but there is a place for thoughtful and longer content. So the younger folks turned to microblogging to share their lives and embraced social networking to hook up.

The older folks turned to blogging to write mostly about their interests (writing, technology, music, art). But then turned to social networks to do practical things like find a job, reconnect with old classmates, post pics of their dogs or kids on Halloween. And yes, in some cases, hook up.

So what is happening now and in the near future???

Instead of lines being drawn between micro-blogging, vlogging, blogging, podcasting...we now combine ALL of these mediums and call it Personal Publishing. That's really what's happening here. People are doing two of the three or maybe even all of the above, in all kinds of fun combinations to get their messages out to an audience.

Yes, there will always be a need for niche media: people are still using the blog as an online diary. And people still make podcasts, and amazingly, people still listen to them. And yeah, many people ONLY use social networking to stay in contact with friends.

Blogs have become mainstream, and many subject matter experts who put their work on their blogs have legitimized blogs as a source of information. Dan Rather got his ass kicked by bloggers. Occupy Wall St. was fueled by blogging. And everyday we do research on the internet, and we're finding accurate and reliable information on blogs more and more. Hell, I have a post from my own blog that is part of the curriculum in a college geology class. How cool is that???

In the end, content is king. The methods in which you utilize to get that message transmitted over the blogosphere has diversified yet converged at the same time. If what you speak and write is of value, people will seek you out. And you will always have an audience.


G. P. Ching said...

Very interesting! Thank you.

The Desert Rocks said...

You use the word diversified and I think that is the idea that captures my muse. The blogosphere is a place I can take my experiences, my education and my various ideas and share them with those who might actually get something out of it. If someone doesn't like it they can visit Diaperpail.blogspot instead!(My apologies if there is a Diaperpail blog):)

Eve said...

Hey Jay, I'm a new follower...very interesting post! I have been blogging for a year now, I'm on Twitter, not on facebook (I hate it!) and I suppose I'm kind of older, as in I'm not a kid..so what you say about the niches different age groups fit into is true. It's very cool that you have a post used in a geology class.. That's awesome!
Happy New Year to you!

David P. King said...

That first picture. Hilarious! I like the information you found on blogging, or personal publishing. Thanks for sharing.

Happy New Year! :)

I left an award for you at my blog.

Jay Noel said...

You're very welcome G!

Eve: I know people with two or three different blogs and such - all very different and independent of each other. If someone wants to share their interests, it makes sense.

The other Eve: Well thanks for stopping by! I'm not a big fan of Facebook, but it helps me with keeping in touch with family I have all over the globe. Happy New Year to you!

David: I thought it was a prefect picture! Happy New Year, and I'm going to check out your awards. Awesome!

Michael Offutt, Visitor from the Future said...

Nice summary of the ins and outs of all this blogging stuff that we all do.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I didn't start blogging until late 2009, so I missed a lot of that. Never did get into Facebook and still don't plan to join. I do use Twitter, but blogging is my platform of choice.

Jay Noel said...

Michael: Thanks man. With a new year upon us, it's always good to take a step back and figure out just what we're doing.

Alex: I enjoy blogging, but it can consume you. That's probably why I took the time off. I wanted to figure out just what I was doing and why. I enjoy reading blogs - just as much as I love writing.

Miranda Hardy said...

I learned a lot from this post. I knew of the various platforms, but I learned something about the history, since I hadn't been on the blogging scene long.

I like what you said about people seeking out what you say. I've long toyed with the content and information I could provide.

Dafeenah said...

Being a relative newbie to the blogsphere I have never heard of many of these. I started on blogger and reluctantly went to wordpress but I have to say I do like wordpress better. It does make me wonder though how we'll be blogging in the Jetson age and will astro have his own blog? kinda scary to think about

Milo James Fowler said...

I entered the Blogosphere in November '09, so I guess I missed out on a lot of the fun. Blogging has been a great way for me to connect with other writers, and I always enjoy the comments from cool folks such as yourself.

Jay Noel said...

Miranda: There's so much "noise" out there, it always pays to be original in addition to being insightful.

Dafeenah: I've thought about WordPress, but old habits die hard!

Milo: I think it's so much easier creating a network of blogs, these days. Prior to '09, it was harder. That's why Blog Exchanges were so valuable.

Mark Noce said...

Neat stats and perspective on the last few years of the blogging world:)

sonia said...

This is actually kind of depressing. Doesn't it seem as if everything has a built-in obsolescence, from TVs to computers to e-readers? Luckily, most of what you're discussing is virtual but when it comes to actual devices it seems like such a terrible waste just to always speed into something supposedly better. Ack.

M Pax said...

Nice history lesson, Jay. I do listen to one podcast when she posts. But it's on a niche topic pertinent to what I'm doing. Otherwise, I don't listen to any.

Blogging and Twitter are great. I'm on FB, but am not very great about using it. I mostly just post what's on my blogs there. lol Lame.

Jay Noel said...

Mark: Thanks man!

Sonia: It's change, and yeah, some of it is a little depressing. When I came back to blogging after more than a year, the landscape looked unrecognizable. I had to adapt, just as we all will have to as blogging continues to evolve!

Mary: I listen to meditation podcasts. Gotta de-stress. Are you on Twitter??? Am I follow you? I gotta go see...

Ciara said...

This is a fascinating post. I've not been around the blogging world that long, so it's interesting to hear the statistics. It sounds like more older people are blogging now, and the young have moved on. Love your blog. I thought I was already following, but it let me follow again, so I guess not.

Rusty Webb said...

Funny, I am a podcast junkie, I think it's great that I can find experts in so many fields, people I would never meet or have a chance to talk to in real life, willingly share about their areas of expertise. It's like having conversations with brilliant people. I think everyone should listen to podcasts.

Of course, there are stupid ones too, it all depends on how you filter what's out there.

And I think podcasting has so many abandoned shows because by its very nature it's not something aspires to do with their life. Of the shows I listen to, several have had hosts come and go, the baton gets passed from one volunteer to the next. Because it's a labor or love for most people, and as folks move on in their lives, time consuming hobbies like podcasting drop to the wayside - but new ones are always (I hope) be popping up.

Hell, I've almost started one myself in the past year, but have decided that I have too many things going on to juggle such a huge commitment that podcasting is.

Anyway, blogging seems to have matured, I see a web full of abandoned blogs too. I'm not sure how I feel about it really, I think it had a bubble of sorts when it was relatively new. I hope it's more or less settled into it's place now.

Awesome post. Love the history you shared here today.

Cindy said...

Thanks for the informative post. It's very interesting. I think the hardest thing about social media is how much time it takes up. It's easy to lose focus..at least for me.

Jay Noel said...

Ciara: Thanks. And yeah, something's up with Google's Follow Button. There have been a handful of blogs I SWEAR I was following but somehow got undone.

Rusty: Podcasting is not easy. I was a one-man show, and in order to get make the production more professional and polished, it was a lot of work. I would say a 20 min. program took 3 hours.

Cindy: I hear ya. There are some tools out there that help consolidate stuff - HootSuite is a good one

The Golden Eagle said...

Interesting history of blogs!

Though as a younger person (as in, falling into the 12-17 bracket) I have to say I don't mind longer posts at all. Microblogging can't cover a subject nearly as thoroughly or with as much depth.

I will have to check out that post used in the geology class.

Tiyana, aka "Yoyo" said...

I didn't even know that blogging had been around for that long! LoL

The only podcast I still listen to these days is Writing Excuses 'cause most times I actually find it to be useful.

Jay Noel said...

GE: You're one of the few bright ones in the bunch!

Tiyana: Oh brother. Now I feel really old! I need to check out that podcast - I've been looking to get back to listening to some good ones.

Mr. Shife said...

Very cool that you have a blog post used in a college class. Blogging is definitely something used by us more mature people. I don't think anyone I blog with is under 30. Awesome post, and it was fun taking a trip down memory lane with blogs. Have a great weekend.

Anonymous said...

I remember being sad when you first vanished on Phoenix. Do you realize your blog is the only one I still read (okay...different name but still) from 2005? Okay...one of two. No one else is still blogging. Crazy!

Interesting post by the way.

Pk Hrezo said...

Crazy, isn't it? I'm always amazed at this alternate universe called the blogosphere. And I've learned so much from blogs. I remember feeling daunted when I learned I'd be expected to blog as a writer. Then it became one of my fave things to do... now I still love it, but it takes a lot of time and is sometimes pushed to the backburner. But you're exactly right ... even if you write long posts, if the content is worth while, peeps will read it. If you're constantly posting your work, not so much.

Jay Noel said...

Shife: We're blogging dinosaurs.

Riann: Ditto there too. We are the last of that great blogging generation.

PK: It can be a big time burner. I do write long posts, and until a bunch of people tell me not to, I will continue to do so!

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