Monday, May 11, 2009

Blog Is Dead

And Twitter killed it.

Honestly, Twitter and Facebook killed it. Or maybe something else is killing it.

My friend C-hammer stated in a recent comment that, "I think we're all consumers of so much information that blogs start to seem long and wordy. They take a little effort and involvement. Because I have a reader with lots of blogs in it, I can never seem to catch up on all of them."

I concur, and so does Technorati. In a recent release of data they stated that "200 million blogs have been created, but only 7.4 million have published a post in the past 4 months." 4 MONTHS. Hmmmm. And what has grown like gangbusters in the past 4 months? Grim.

However, its not all twitter's fault. Most blogs were never popular because of the first-class writing, they were popular because of their voyeuristic nature. We are a voyeuristic culture. We like to know what's going on across the rosebushes, behind the curtains, through the thin walls. We want to see and hear and live through other people's eyes. We are an unhappy culture. We are a culture that wishes we were all doing something different. We are never satisfied and therefore we are constantly looking for some new sweet that will satisfy our sweet tooth. We love to live vicariously through other people. I do, you do, we all do. (However, the good Lord is weeding that out in me in the past two years... well that's another blog for another... wait... NEVERMIND.)

I often wondered how long it would take for blogging to die out. It is dying out much quicker than people think. And the blogs that are surviving are the ones that provide the most information in the shortest amount of time.

Twitter is truly amazing because it doesn't give people enough time to get bored. Even thought the twitts or tweets or whatever are usually EXTREMELY boring, with every little blurb we clap our hands and bark as if we've been given a new treat.

As for me, I am glad that I was a part of this great blogging era. I'd like to say a personal thanks to my friend Joey for introducing me to the blog and then to Shaun Groves for showing me the potential of blogging. It has made me a better writer and it has also earned me many new and undeserved friends. The commenting on my blog has been some of the best and most interesting writing I've witnessed on the Internet and I do miss that. However, I feel that those days are over.

Blogging is another trinket on the long dangling, noisy, splendid, spectacular necklace around the neck of our pop culture. In many ways, I think that it was one of the healthiest of the trinkets. People started writing again and when people write, they exercise their imagination and their intelligence, or at least the ability to communicate more clearly and learn new things.

Now see, I've rambled on a good 300 twitts. And all I needed to keep your attention was a mere 5 twatts per hour. Sorry couldn't resist.

No, I'm not signing off. I have adjustment disorder so small change is hard for me. As a matter of fact, in a few years, I'll probably be the lone ragged man wandering in the endless fields of abandoned blogs, posting a thought or two or posting things that resemble paragraphs and complete sentences.

I might enter the twitter world someday, but who knows. By the time I do, people will have become so clever at it, that it will resemble an interesting art form but it will also have become passé. But people don't want steak at a movie; they want popcorn. And if it doesn't "pop" anymore, pop culture doesn't want it boring their sensory buds.

The people I really feel sorry for are those at places like the Rabbit Room where there is quite a lot of good writing going on by several good writers and creative artists. Just when I think they've caught their stride, the masses no longer have the attention span to read things longer than a paragraph. And when I say paragraph, I mean Hemingway paragraph: A sentence, if you are lucky.

Nor do they want to hear about anything that doesn't involve your minute by minute whereabouts or if you decided to wipe the boogie on the couch or the floor. However, they do have the benefit of several hundred fans, as most are performing artists, so maybe they'll become one of the last few bastions of good and surviving blogs. I hope so.

But make no mistake, if Blog is not dead, than it is surely dying. Fast.


Bill Hensley said...

I would say Twitter is more of a Facebook killer than a blog killer. Not too many bloggers post 140 characters or less. Blogging won't disappear, but the twits will go away and leave it to those with longer attention spans.

Seth Ward said...

I'm afraid that I disagree. Twitting is here to stay. Facebook will also survive, I think. Though all will fall away as most will realize that it isn't enough. To quote Bono, "But I still haven't found what I'm looking for."

Also, blogs aren't current enough. One of the attractions of blogging was "what are you doing now?"

Well, the level of connectivity that blogging supplied has been FAR surpassed by twitter.

And honestly, there really are some true positive literary aspects about twitter. It does force you to say what you are going to say briefly. Faulkner and Steinbeck would have been in hell. The first few chapters in Grapes of Wrath would have read, if written on twitter:

It got really hot and dusty in oklahoma. Everything died. Everyone was poor.

A turtle tried to cross the hot road. A man picked it up before it could make it. The man was going to eat it.

Twitter has simply given us a peek to what is to come. I think life videos are next. Some sort of daily, hour by hour video tweeting. But I don't know. Never underestimate the suggestive power of the word. Video simply robs us of the mystery.

Blogging? It was the model T to the fast twitter ride. A novelty, and a good one, but now old-fashioned outdated. Now people simply feel silly when they write their blogs for 30 people when they could write a few sentences for 100!

People seem to have a bunch of fun with twitter and I can't fault them that. There is certainly something to fun!

But is it possible to entertain ourselves to death?

Seth Ward said...

In fact, I predict a whole literary informational overhaul.

From novels to film.

Newspapers are dying. No one wants to read that much anymore. We've gotten more greek than we know. The mantra of all Greek thought could be summed up in one sentence:

"Get to the point."

All writing will undergo a serious change. Publishing is feeling the pangs that the record industry felt in the past 10 years with digital downloads. People want it faster.

And because man always wants either, bigger, better, faster, we will always push towards more ingenious modes of brevity.

I can't count the bloggers that have featured their tweets. And if I am honest, it is tempting. There is something very funny about some of those tweets. They definitely are little cliffhangers, some of them.

It is time to admit the inevitable. The blogger is now cretaceous. Get brief, or get dead.

Vitamin Z said...


If you are right then I am very sad for our culture. No attention span for blogs?!? What does that say about our collective book reading?

My Dad made an interesting comment recently about his circle of friends. He divides them into those who read books and those who don't. When an interesting conversation starts up about any old topic, the people who read books usually have the ability to carry on the conversation. The people who don't read books usually don't have much to offer.

As I think about my friends in those terms I think he is generally right in his assessment.

If your post is right, I think our culture is getting collectively dumber. That is not good.


Bill Hensley said...

Seth, what I think is significant about blogs is the democratization of publishing. That won't go away, at least not right away. It is a medium well-suited to article or essay length pieces, even if that wasn't its primary motivation originally. The desire to communicate your daily activities to your friends began moving from blogs to Facebook quite a while ago, and is now moving to Twitter. It's great for that purpose (if that holds any appeal for you, which it doesn't for me.) This is not a win-lose, but a win-win. Our communications media become richer with the new options, and the various users (and uses) sort themselves out accordingly.

Seth Ward said...

Bill, I agree! Totally. But the facts are the facts! People are blogging SIGNIFICANTLY less than they did since twitter started. I think somewhere down by over 60%.-70.

Even journalistic blogs are turning towards twittering. The whole FOX news corps twitters.

I'd like to believe that blogging will never die, but if not a total death, something totally different than the unique writing community that it was.

Seth Ward said...

Vitamin, I agree whole heartedly with you and your dad.

Btw, you've got a very cool thing going on with your blog as it is a kind of Vitamin Z thinking news feed, mingled with personal thoughts, music and humor. I've discovered so many interesting and thought provoking things on your blog. I've probably commented there more in the past year than anywhere else combined, save Brant's blog. (Who has also quit btw.)

I find that the more I read, the better I am at communication in general. Oddly, reading out loud is also a great and forgotten practice. Just imagine trying to practice piano all in your head. Communicating also involves muscles and connecting thought to muscle and muscle memory. And like any other unused part of your body, the ability to speak fluently can become atrophied or sloppy.

Vitamin Z said...

Brant quit blogging? That has to be a sin.


Chaotic Hammer said...

Somebody had to point out the elephant in the room. I'm glad it was you, Seth. :-)

I think Bill's comment really hit on an important point. The short "Here's what I'm doing right now" nature of Twitter serves a useful purpose. Such entries should be removed from the realm of the blog anyway. I like the notion of the blog as a place for articles and essays. That's certainly what you write here, and it's what the best and most interesting blogs continue to be.

I also harbor the fear you are alluding to here -- that those of us who became acquainted in real life through the medium of blogging may be losing something precious if it continues to die out. I absolutely agree that some of the most fun, thought-provoking, and interesting conversations I've ever had "online" were in the comments section of the blogosphere (especially this very blog you've got right here!).

What I think this whole internet thing has taught us is that you can't really predict with any accuracy what direction the hive mind will take. Things that were thought to be permanent fixtures have died overnight, and things that were thought to be fads have ended up being the standards -- for now anyway. None of this is driven from the top by the big "idea men". It's all driven by an unpredictable, untamed mass of individual users, with each click making a decision about what the future of the internet holds, whether we realize it or not.

Stephen said...

For obvious reasons, I'm hoping that blogs like the Rabbit Room stay around and continue to reach a broader audience. And I think that many of the readers of the RR go there looking for that kind of content, which is frequently more like an arts and faith journal than a here's-what-I-did-today list. I do agree that most people who blogged for the last reason listed above, as a way of sharing information with friends or merely hoping others care about what was happening in their lives, have turned to twitter and facebook because it offers a way to accomplish the same thing with less of a time commitment.

FancyPants said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Seth Ward said...

I agree Stephen. People do go there looking for that kind of content. However, I also think that the RR has the benefit of some well-known figures that contribute and therefore bring a steady audience of those that want to hear more from the people that they admire musically.

This is what editors and publishers call "platform" and it is a tried and true selling point. In fact, most publishers want to hear about your platform before they hear about your story to see if they'll be to immediately sell. What's great about the RR is that the content is as good or better than the platform, which is not usually the case.

So, yes, the RR is a rarity and one that I'm sure will be around as long as you and the other people running it decide. I sure enjoy it!

What I suppose I'm saying is that even though the content is good, the RR still offers certain "fans" or whatever you want to call them an additional peek into the minds of those they want to see more of, or want to be associated with.

This ties into my theory that one of the first things about the blog that was appealing was this glimpse. This is why people used to call themselves "lurkers." And now that this "glimpse-factor" has been surpassed by an easier and quicker access, blogging has been usurped as the choice mode of giving and getting that glimpse.

Again, bottom line is that people in this day and age aren't bigtime readers, or writers. And the best thing about blogging was that even though the initial allure was one of "lurking" it lured people into writing and reading again, on probably the biggest scale man has known since people used to only write letters to communicate.

Now that the initial allure is gone, we've seen an exodus.

Christopher Lake said...

The decreasing literacy of American society really concerns me-- not that I have been immune to the drift. I find that the more I read blogs, the less I read books. It takes significantly more concentration and discipline for me to read and finish a book now, after the spread of the internet, than was necessary in the pre-internet era (and I have a degree in English!).

I still do read blogs and comment on them (obviously!), but I am trying to get back to reading books on a more consistent basis. As for Twitter? No, thank you. Some of my friends seem to love it, but I think that it is a terrible sign of a decaying culture.

Bill Hensley said...

I've been thinking the same thing, Christopher. The tip-off was when I realized my birthday was coming around again this year and I still hadn't read all the books I was given last year. I think I need to rebalance the time I spend reading blogs vs. books. Let alone Facebook and Twitter!

Anonymous said...

Dear Bitter Kiss

blog is dead? do you have a hit counter? like maybe there are just a bucnh of lerkers out there who just like reading it.BTW haven't heard you talk about Americn Idol this year.Who is going to win?

Amy said...

I disagree. I don't think quantity of bloggers equals blogging is alive and well. Newspapers are dying because people go online for information...not because they aren't reading.

Anyway, you may be right that Twitter has killed some blogs. But I don't think it has killed blogging.