To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the death of blogs have been greatly exaggerated.
That’s not to say all blogs are doing well. When examining the spectrum of blogs out there, personal blogs appear to be hurting. Many of the top 100 blogs as listed on Technorati are owned by media companies, including the number one Huffington Post.
As an individual person, rising above the noise to make your voice heard has become almost impossible. Yet there are still instances where breaking news is heard from a lesser known blog.
Blogs are also impersonal. The content appears the same for every reader. There is no way to reach out to your specifically to your friends.
New tools have arisen to counter these issues. Services such as Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, or Facebook seemingly offer the same power of self-expression as blogging does. And they make it easier.
Creating a blog post that includes video can be bothersome, with attendant file upload and bandwidth issues. By comparison, getting your video on YouTube is a much simpler process; it takes care of those details for you.
They provide a social aspect — you can discriminate between friends and the general public. You can tweet for public consumption, or directly to your friends. You can limit who sees your photos on Flickr, or you can tag your friends’ photos. You can control who is allowed to interact with you on Facebook.
These services are also fast. At StartupCamp a couple of weeks ago I found blogging far too slow to capture ideas – microblogging with Twitter was the obvious choice in that case. And posting pictures is definitely faster with Flickr. And all the cool kids are using Twitter, clearly the defining tool for our short-attention-span world.
But there are two primary reasons that blogging isn’t going to die anytime soon. Twitter or Facebook are great for capturing simple ideas, or for “drive-by” comments. But they are useless when it comes to capturing a cohesive train of thought, or for explaining complex ideas.
You can tweet “obama rocked in the debate last night. he blew mccain away on tech policy”, but try to explain or defend his policies regarding technology 140 characters at a time. Just as it is difficult to follow an email conversation, it is also extremely difficult to convey and follow detailed information using Twitter. And Flickr and YouTube offer little in the way of commentary. A blog post can be as long and detailed as is needed to make your point.
The reach and the longevity of the conversations are an issue as well. Any conversations you have with friends on Facebook are private, as is any friend-limited social media.
They won’t be showing up on Google anytime soon, so the conversations can’t become part of our greater body of knowledge. And though it is certainly easy to search Twitter, try reassembling that conversation. You can preserve the media, but the essential sense of the conversation is lost. A blog post is available exactly as written to everyone, forever.
If you just want to be noticed then they may not be the tool to use, but blogs still provide an essential method of communication — the ability to explain something in detail in a single cohesive post, one that can they be indexed and referenced.
Those detailed posts have helped me to solve numerous problems in the past few years. And of course smart bloggers also make use of tools like Flickr and YouTube to include media in their posts in order to make their ideas clearer. And they use Twitter to share simpler ideas. New tools can improve your productivity, but there is still a place for the old dependable ones.
<A href="http://larryborsato.com/”>Larry Borsato has been a software developer, marketer, consultant, public speaker, and entrepreneur, among other things. For more of his unpredictable, yet often entertaining thoughts you can read his blog at larryborsato.com.