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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

bring out your dead « Previous | |Next »
July 26, 2008

There's something odd about bloggers blogging that blogs are dead. Or dying.

Social Media Queen, Laurel Papworth, says the problem is that blogs are not collaborative, and collaboration is the way of the future:

The problem with blogs is they aren't collaborative. Yes of course it's possible to have a conversation. People can leave comments on your blog - the Dine In version. Or they can comment in their own blog post, linking back to yours (Take Out or TakeAway). Or a mashup of the two, by commenting on an RSS feed about your blog. But it ain't collaborative.

Like old-style media, blogs are one-to-many, and that just doesn't cut it any more. Blogs will not loom large in the future.

Trevor Cook thinks the blogosphere is losing the old community spirit of altruism and open access, and becoming a replica of profit-focused corporate media.

The original social media vision contains a radical sense of equality with everyone able to produce and consume content that is, in turn, valued on its merits, not its branding or the celebrity status of the author. But radical equality works best in small groups and the blogosphere has already outgrown it.

As social networks get bigger they lose their cosy clubbiness and can feel more like a business networking function where 'product pushers' keep crashing your conversations or snubbing you in favour of more popular attendees.

There is some truth in there. Think A-list, hit counters and various other devices for measuring 'success'.

Mainstream media blogs (flogs) get plenty of traffic and their authors get paid. Cook doesn't mention it, but the celebrity status of some op ed floggers has to be the main attraction for some readers. Look at me Mum, I'm talking to Andrew Bolt. A lot of commenting has more to do with star-frocking than discussion or debate.

Big institutions, business and government, seem to have no idea how blogs could serve their purposes. Business attempts generally fail, for various reasons, although the most obvious but least mentioned is that business operates on a whole other logic. There's no point talking with people if it won't make them buy more stuff from you. And they rarely understand the benefits of letting people publicly tell them why they're crap.

Any serious attempt by governments would have the same problem. Imagine the average response to a government blog seeking public feedback on the ETS? Or anything else for that matter. It would be troll heaven.

Personally, I don't think blogs are as dead as all that. The euphoria and utopianism has subsided, which was inevitable, and there's no way blogs will ever meet the advertising and mass communications needs of big institutions. But as we saw during last year's election, there are times when people need somewhere to talk about stuff that matters to them. Blogs aren't dead yet, just settling down and figuring out what they want to be.

| Posted by Lyn at 12:45 PM | | Comments (12)


yes there has been a large down turn on blogs. Mostly I would say on the attention span group.
The best judge I would say would be the posting of current blogs as this separates from the inactive blogs. Technorati gauge this but Google wont.
And then too it would be important to track overall comments on all blogs that were active. I would put comments at 25% of a year ago.
Yes so I surmise that Blogging is becoming MORE intelligent

I don't pay all that much attention to blogs themselves. More interested in comments and commenters.

You could put the higher levels of activity this time last year down to interest in the election. Huge numbers of newbies arrived through the year, but as you say, a lot have lost interest.

But around this time in 2006 there was more activity than there is now. There was a bit of controversial stuff around then like Workchoices, David Hicks and anything to do with terrorism.

Does this suggest that blogs are mainly for people who are always interested, or that they come into their own when people need to talk? If it's the latter you'd have to figure that currently, nothing's upsetting people all that much.

The other thing I've noticed is that a lot of people who were commenting through 2006 and 2007 have gone. Others have come along instead, but nowhere near as many. So that stuffs the theory that there are some people who are always interested.

I've noticed the change and downturn in weblog commentary---its much quieter was my response--just from the thoughtfactory ones.

blogs need to become more integrated with the social media. Facebook used to do this but the application failed. A new one will be developed.

What I find though is that commentary takes place on Flickr under 'discussion', and secondly, many are uncomfortable with the writing on aesthetics on Junk for Code.

We do need to think in terms of different markets=--the world of Flickr and a design culture has very little to big media for instance. Flickr is a very vibrant world of amateur and professional photography still structured around community.

People are spread around now on many blog formats. Lots of people tend to stick to their format I think. Myspace,Facebook,Bebo have a community feel while the others don't. Many operated in various formats once but seem to dry up after 8 months or so. Apparently running out of steam or interest. Many switch back to posting at one location and target their special interest rather than posting on various topics on various formats. It is easy to get swept along in all that is available in Bloggyworld but all seem to reach a point where they stop or scale down. I would guess that 90% of all blogs out there are inactive.
Comments are way down on all blogs I look at and I would think that this is another reason for blog posting slowing down too.
Bigpond recently opened up Bigblog so that mobile phone customers could comment for free on the blogs but it ended badly because all the blogs were spammed by teenage kids swearing and chatting. That was an innovative thought though I thought. I am not sure that there is any other innovative things in the wind that will spark up Blogging. So perhaps the water has found its level and what it is now is what it will be for a while.

It's stupid to predict anything, but I imagine blogs becoming more multi-everything and also more niche as they go along. Kind of like an authored, one-to-many blog being one part of a site that also does other things, and allows more people to contribute in various ways. Possum's seems to be venturing down that road.

Everything we have so far, Facebook, MySpace, blogs, YouTube, Flickr and anything else people do online is embedded in our offline lives. People do things online that they can't do offline, so as far as blogs as they are at moment are concerned, I think they serve a purpose when needed for commenters.

"Many operated in various formats once but seem to dry up after 8 months or so." Studies of such things usually find that there is such a thing as being too popular. Some people will wander off after The Next Big Thing and others will form spliter groups to go on doing what they were doing before. Either way, it's a matter of 'there's too many people in here'.

I think the copyright laws will toughen up viewing of youtube and other vids sites. There could well be a pay per view system introduced. There was a recent court case in the U.S but I don't have all the details on it but I assume that it targets the area of whether a person has the right to upload vid that they don't have the rights to. I also assume that people will in the future not be able to embed some vids to blogs or websites.

what do you mean by this

I imagine blogs becoming more multi-everything and also more niche as they go along. Kind of like an authored, one-to-many blog being one part of a site that also does other things, and allows more people to contribute in various ways. Possum's seems to be venturing down that road.

Can you give an example of an authored, one-to-many blog being one part of a site that also does other things, and allows more people to contribute in various ways?

Do you mean blogs attached to American Prospect or The Atlantic? Or do you have something else in mind?

I'm not sure that collaboration, altruism and open access are the right key to understanding what is happening here in the information economy. That economy used to be understood in terms of technopoles', science parks, and biotechnology by economists and policy makers and academics.

Blogs are just one example of a taking back of control of cultural production in the face of corporate control. The categories are those of networks and clusters, innovative milieu and the competitive advantage of place, and cultural industries.

The broader perspective is a creative economy involving high levels of human input, and organised as clusters of small companies working on a project basis, where teams, partnerships and alliances dissolve and re-form constantly. These groups/companies rely on dense flows of information, goods and services, and benefit from economies of scale in skills-sourcing and know-how.

The copyright stoush has a way to go yet. We have corporations and governments on one hand, trying to enforce property values, and innovations on the other hand working out new ways to get around those things. As with Napster, I think that if YouTube caves in to pay-per-view something else will come along to replace it. Also, there's a lot of emphasis on people getting copyrighted material free, but not much emphasis on the popularity of free content.

I guess the nearest thing would be a MySpace or Facebook page with music, video, photo album, blog and whatever else all in one place. Considering Papworth's argument it would have to include more wiki-style opportunities for others to contribute, or something else that people more imaginitive than me will invent.

The more I think about that though, the less convincing it is. I can see it working for, say, an extended family or group of friends with a variety of things they want to share, but not so well for a news and current affairs blog.

Would the blog still be the central component of such a thing, or an extension on something else like they are at media sites? It would have to depend on the purpose of the thing. Wouldn't it?

There are two information economies going on at the moment - the one that accumulates money capital and the one that accumulates something else which nobody has quite defined yet. There's also a reasonable Bourdieu-style argument to be made that social capital links the two.

I'm not convinced that corporate control of cultural production is anywhere near as threatened as the brawls over copyright or mainstream vs independent media suggest. Video didn't kill the radio star and TV is still the primary source of news and entertainment among people over 23 or so. There are some gradual shifts, but as Les points out, some of them are temporary novelties rather than permanent fixtures.

In my view, the only thing that can be safely said is that distributions are no longer centralised or fixed as securely as they used to be.

Papworth and Cook are exploring the issues of culture,technology and economics in a narrow sense--blogging and social media.

They ignore the broader context of the new economy driven by digital technologies and closely related to the information or knowledge economy. This is crucial because the the creative industries are those which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent and which
have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation exploitation of intellectual property.

The new concern with
IP rights is an attempt to overcome one of the key restrictions on profitability in the cultural industries – the tendency of cultural goods
to become public goods.