August 12, 2007

why we're all blogging less

["Dorothy". One of my fave cartoons from the early days. NYNY, 1998.]

A common conversation thread I'm hearing a lot among the veteran bloggers, is how we all seem to be blogging a lot less. The reasons are numerous; here's a short list of the main ones I'm picking up.

1. We got busy. For many of us, blogging created opportunities for us in the offline world, just like the early blog evangelists predicted. And as we found out the hard way, it's actually quite hard to do stuff and blog about it at the same time. As my father, a very smart and observant man once quipped, "A lot of these bloggers seem to have a lot of time on their hands". That may have been true in 2002, back when the recession was still on. It's certainly less true with a lot of people I know.

2. Scoble quit Microsoft. Just kidding.

3. Blogging isn't for everybody. Web 2.0 is for everybody. Keeping a half-decent blog going is very time-consuming work. So of course there was a market for more time-friendly Web 2.0 apps, like Facebook and Twitter. That doesn't mean blogs will go away. It just means more opportunities for people to create and use new tools. The web stands still for nobody etc.

4. Believe it or not, some of us have better things to do than to be continually justifying ourselves to a crowd of passive-aggressive, self-loathing, loser fucktards. Thankfully these folk are a minority, but their one skill-set in life seems to be in the less-than-noble art of "using up too much oxygen". Which makes "Engaging in The Conversation" a lot less appealing for the others. Life is short.

5. The future we spent a long time evangelizing has already arrived. Blogs are not the future. Blogs are the present. So we're all looking for new things to keep our restless brain cells occupied. I was recently talking to Adriana Lukas about this very same subject. She's getting more into her "next big thing", namely, "VRM".

6. They said what they had to say, then moved on. It happens all the time with book writers, why not the same with bloggers?

[Bonus Link] B.L .Ochman: "Reports of Blogging's Death Are Greatly Exaggerated."

Posted by hugh macleod at August 12, 2007 1:38 PM | TrackBack

Hugh, some interesting thoughts and got me thinking!

I wonder if another reason is that for many people they found that they did not get the audience and readers they thought they would get and lost the will to keep pumping out thoughts when only a handful of people actually cared what they had to say based on how few people stopped by?


Posted by: Gary Bembridge (unleashed on marketing blog) at August 13, 2007 8:32 AM

Not that I was ever a particularly prolific blogger to start with, but I'm in a dry patch at the moment too. I'd give 3 reasons:

  1. I got busy. To put it more simply, I got a job.

  2. It's summer. It's warm out, there are beaches not too far away, pleasure boats on the harbour, etc. Frankly, given a choice between sitting inside writing and sitting outside socialising, I know which one I pick.

  3. It's personal. I do have the urge to write, but I do not have the connected urge to publish it under my name. There is plenty going on in my head, plenty I'd like to write about, plenty I'd like to get feedback about, but very little of it is stuff I want to say to 'the public'. I either want to say it directly to the people concerned, or I want to discuss it with friends I trust and respect.

One other thing, which doesn't fit into the list above, is that my blog is on a couple of planets, and I'm aware that personal/random-life-thoughts stuff is going to get distributed relatively widely and republished in places where it may not be appropriate or welcome. I've heard similar comments from other people - obviously, this may not apply so much to A-listers...

Posted by: Richard at August 13, 2007 8:43 AM

VRM? Any idea how long that's been around as both a concept and technology play?

Posted by: Dennis Howlett at August 13, 2007 8:44 AM

Guilt swiftly exorcised.

Posted by: Max Kaizen at August 13, 2007 8:52 AM

Very true words, as always!

I was thinking of something clever to write but to busy I'm afraid ;)

Posted by: Gerard van Schip at August 13, 2007 9:12 AM

To your overall point (for UK PR bloggers)...

...and specifically to p0int no.4...there's a bell-end curve for evey sector:

Posted by: ...the world's leading... at August 13, 2007 9:13 AM

Nice buddy. I like it so much. Come on keep it up :)

Posted by: faizan at August 13, 2007 9:13 AM

Amen. Well put. :)

Posted by: Adriana at August 13, 2007 9:26 AM

Amen @ Hugh.

Posted by: Dannie Jost at August 13, 2007 9:42 AM

Let us do it for (Open)Money
In the recent Gnomedex there was a talk about OpenMoney. It was bit confused and too confusing - yet very interesting.

Just a few centuries back, printing and publishing were the domains of the government and the church. Now we know how blogs has pushed publishing to fringes.

OpenMoney has the potential to take the concept of centrally controlled Money to the fringes.
What is the benefit you might ask. Well a lot of disruption and wealth unlocking - just like blogs unlocked expression and "finding meaning".

When I was listening to the Gnomedex talk, your cartoon - 'Let us opensource our Sex lives' came to my mind.

I'm writing this in the hope that some A-lister sees OpenMoney as the Next Big Thing. And opens the Pandora's box.


Posted by: Balaji Sowmyanarayanan at August 13, 2007 9:56 AM

Balaji, that's a bit naughty [I usually delete off-topic comments/plugs], but what the hell...

Posted by: hugh macleod at August 13, 2007 10:08 AM

Thoughts re post:

1. Re: Busy yes - but also, there is far more competition for attention out there - I would bet that it takes more time now for similar impact.

3. Facebook saves time! No ways!!! Its v inefficient at messaging and data handling even vs Web 1 tech (eg Yahoo Groups) and does not have the reach of an Open System such as a blog. It's just todays noo media darling, dahling :-)

As for Twitter - yup, saves time - but does less.

4. The f*cktards will be with us always

5. I recall VRM in the late 80's and late 90's reprise...nice to know its on a re-release :)

6. Possibly...everyone has a novel and a bell curve inside them....

Posted by: alan p at August 13, 2007 10:27 AM

Hugh, I fully agree. I have thought for the past two weeks of why I haven't been feeling to write anything on my blog. I realized - I just don't feel for it, it is really not that important and at the moment Twitter/ Facebook are better outlets for my impulses.

Posted by: Net at August 13, 2007 10:33 AM

Blogs are the start, not the end.

Posted by: James Cherkoff at August 13, 2007 11:06 AM

"It's summer. It's warm out, there are beaches not too far away, pleasure boats on the harbour, etc. Frankly, given a choice between sitting inside writing and sitting outside socialising, I know which one I pick."

I continue to be fascinated at how just a year ago, everyone readily offered this as the explanation for why blogging had suddenly slowed down. I remember several bloggers I regularly read leaving a 'See you in September' post, in June.

But this year, it's all because blogging itself has slowed down, and is no longer the 'shiny new toy'. Ah well, at least it's better than having the biannual A-Lister/Z-Lister dustup.

Posted by: Mack Collier at August 13, 2007 11:07 AM

It is summer. I don't doubt that some are too busy and ths some have outgrown blogging. It's quite clear that some who came first want to be the first to move on. But Mack has a point there, it's still summer, as summer was last year. . . .

Posted by: Liz Strauss at August 13, 2007 12:15 PM

I know some bloggers who found their blogs became "work" once they found an audience. What started as fun, or a way to promote their offline business, became a responsibility once they had hundreds of readers expecting insightful, inspiring and interesting posts on a regular basis. One friend said "I have grown to hate my blog", and he has not posted more than once in two months.

Plus, for some it was cool to say they had a blog, as folks did not know about blogs. Now it is common, and thus some need to move on to avoid being average.

Posted by: thom singer at August 13, 2007 12:41 PM

great blog dawg!great cartoons!!!!

Posted by: boyanother at August 13, 2007 1:22 PM

It happens all the time with a new tool, toy, ability, superpower, whatever. For a while the focus is on the "thing" and some people learn how to use the "thing" to produce some amazing results.

After a while, the focus becomes more on results than the "thing". Some people incorporate that "thing" as one arrow in their quiver - some continue to use just that one tool, toy or whatever. Some get bored with the whole mess and move on.

I was involved in the popularization of the coaching movement in the mid-90's. Several of us started a professional association, credentialing, the whole bit. After a few years I noticed that many of the folks who were there at the start no longer spent most of their time (or got most of their income) from coaching - they had branched off to writing, speaking, consulting, whatever.

I think this is a familiar pattern.

Posted by: John Seiffer - Business Coach at August 13, 2007 1:47 PM

I'm with Mack and Liz on the general sentiment of this being the summer season and folks feeling quite European about things.

As for #3, I think everybody is into blogging these days and thus there is less exclusivity associated with it. Although when I hear people refer to posts as BLOGS I know they might be into them while still not 'getting' what they're into ;-) And for many the actual conversation is still quite elusive... I will leave you all to ponder this point.

Happy summer, Hugh.

Posted by: Valeria Maltoni at August 13, 2007 3:27 PM

You got it, Hugh. I insist that blogs written by writers are not really blogs, just a medium for writing. Writing is writing, period. As you know, I go on hiatus regularly.

Posted by: latinbombshell at August 13, 2007 3:48 PM

The future for blogs, and sort of everything, is going to come down to either creating or being part of on-line social clusters or feeding stand-alone content to these clusters (what I call content worms). If you have blog, especially of you are an A-lister, now's the time to work out if you want to evolve it into a cluster - possibly morphing twittery, facebooky stuff into this - or instead focus on creating content worms.
Hugh, I figure your all new GapingVoid, to be unveiled in September, might be going the clustery way? Myself - I'm going to focus on content worms and look to join other people's clusters.

Posted by: Richard Stacy at August 13, 2007 4:24 PM

My blog is still the "core" of my online identity. And I think I am engaged in a conversation as much as I ever was. However, I find that posting links (via replaces about 50% of what I once blogged about and twitter ( replaces about 25% more. And since I aggregate both of those on my blog, I can post still "blog" but not "blog" -- if you know what I mean. (I hope you do, because I'm not sure anyone else does.) I think if I could draw pictures on the back of business cards, that would replace another 20% of my blogging -- you've already cornered that niche, however. :)

Posted by: Rex Hammock at August 13, 2007 4:54 PM

People are fickle, maybe?

Posted by: momo at August 13, 2007 4:59 PM

After nearly four years of blogging, I'm finding the need for allowing myself a week hiatus here, a month hiatus there to be growing all the time. There has been a good deal of #1, but definitely Twitter and have taken some of the old content.

Also the part where having a personal life started getting in the way of writing a personal blog, which Accidentally Jewish is. That said, this weekend I started two more blogs for smaller, more focused discussions after getting asked this week, "Why don't you ever blog about that?"


and, you know, it's August.

Posted by: Leah at August 13, 2007 5:20 PM

I love #4. I think I'll quote that the next time I get an "unconstructive" comment (to put it nicely).

Posted by: Keith Handy at August 13, 2007 6:00 PM

My personal reasoning is thus:

I used to blog more and read more blogs back in law school (2004-2005). I had "free" time then. Most of the blogs I read were written by fellow law students.

We all graduated (presumably) and got jobs (again, presumably) and now do not have nearly as much "free" time (thrice, presumably) and/or interest in maintaining a blog.

Mine used to actually have "content". Nowadays it's reduced to intermittent updates about my personal life. I might say I only maintain it because I'm a narcissistic asshole but I still hold out hope for more substantive content. *shrug* Plus it's still fun for me.

Posted by: Alan at August 13, 2007 6:09 PM

I got lost at Richard's worm cluster thingimijigs!

I am definately out of this conversation.

Posted by: Robert at August 13, 2007 6:59 PM


I think less blogging is happening for many of the reasons you mentioned.

As well as noting the relentless competition when other people state that they just got 100,000 hits in 7 days and I just counted 20 on all of my sites! That alone makes me feel like a failure!

Blogging is not new anymore, but it is still a good way to reach out and market yourself and just connect...with any quantity of audience. Hell, at least someone is listening.

Bloggings present state may be analogous to a marriage where you have to work at it as opposed to the one night stand of twitter, or other 2.0 tricks (so to speak).

Also, realize that people who have been blogging are 'ahead of the curve.' You are essentially very high tech and connected on many other fronts.
You have been doing it for years and now it is 'mainstream.'

Therefore, pro-bloggers are on to the next faster, sweeter 'hit'whatever that may be.


Posted by: Adrienne Zurub at August 13, 2007 10:10 PM

Oh, crap.
So since I'm still posting every day (on 3 different blogs) that means
1) I'm not busy (good to know, should start a few more projects then)
2) I'm dealing with the Scoble situation (Hugh, baby, if you need help... drop me a line sweetheart, I'll make you forget all about him)
3) I haven't figured out Web 2.0 (guilty as charged, 'course I haven't figured out how to properly moderate my comments yet either)
4) I enjoy talking to fucktards (actually I simply ignore them, see #3)
5) I'm living in the past (where I'm 20 and a size zero... what's wrong with that again?)
6) I have a lot more crap to say and no, I'm not moving anywhere

Posted by: K at August 14, 2007 12:58 AM

"Believe it or not, some of us have better things to do than to be continually justifying ourselves to a crowd of passive-aggressive, self-loathing, loser fucktards."

If it's all right with you, I'm just going to quote this (with attribution, of course!) the next time the opportunity presents itself in my comment threads. Could be a while -- or, given the nature of things, could be tomorrow . . .

Posted by: Tim Walker at August 14, 2007 1:41 AM

Finally got around to blogging, and already feel like I'm over it after a handful of posts. Can't sleep any faster so something's gotta give. Thanks for letting some air back into the room.

Posted by: JimH at August 14, 2007 3:56 AM

Velveteen Rabbit.
How we do anything is how we do everything.
We change the channel.
We punch a different button.
We trade in the old.
We quit.

Posted by: Karen at August 14, 2007 4:07 AM

#3 - sure, blogging isn't for everyone, as everyone can't write. Twitter's fine for ADD-like updates of what's interesting or in your face at present, but blogging affords you to think. To craft words together in a way that engages. Web 2.0 has its place, but it has less potential to connect me to others with "What? You too?" moments than blogs do.

Posted by: CheekierMeSly at August 14, 2007 1:07 PM

Great post. I think there's another element in play here. In my opinion, even if this is the 10th anniversary of "blogging" it is still extremely new for most people. Its not like you, or me, or Scoble or *most* bloggers were writing 800-2000 words or more PER DAY before the platforms came to be.

I firmly believe we are at the apex of blogging popularity, and many "established brands" of blogging will decrease the quantity of writing they do, if not stop altogether. If you look at this in an abstract, it seems highly unlikely and highly improbable that a few million people truly have an aching need to write this much...

Posted by: Jeremy Toeman at August 14, 2007 1:16 PM

Isn't VRM just being a competent customer?

Caveat emptor, and all that.

Posted by: manpageman at August 14, 2007 2:46 PM

Thanks for this post. You're helping me put words to the pink elephant that's been in my blogging room lately. ;)

Ah, August. And it's been such an August-y August for me. I'd like to think that this is what is causing my blogging mojo to float away, but for me (and perhaps others), it's more likely that:

1. Just as what is "cool" continues to change, so will everything that human beings find interesting continue to change. It's not that we are fickle, it's that this is how things are. We and the world are in constant flux -- life is constant change, big and small. Go with the flow.

2. With that being said, I'm keeping my blog even though I haven't been posting much lately. Everyone's points about the conversation continuing to morph is right on. Blogging is a vital part of my conversations. It's the only way I can keep in touch with some people, too. I'm not closing this door, though I am supplementing it with Twitter, now Facebook (who knows what is next).

3. We're not robots (yet?), we're human. This is good. Who can keep up massive post outbursts for years? Burn-out is real.

When cooler weather visits in a month or so, I still think I might start blogging more again. We'll see.

P.S. Looking forward to your mysterious September announcement...

Posted by: KG at August 14, 2007 3:49 PM

Longer comment posted here. Glad you survived the trip - even if the South wasn't worthy of your whirlwind tour.

Posted by: CheekierMeSly at August 14, 2007 8:50 PM

Just never stop creating cartoons.

Posted by: Chuck Nyren at August 15, 2007 1:03 AM

Good thoughts.. It really makes me wonder if it's too late to get into the game. Hope you don't mind I linked to this in my blog since it got my gears working about things.

Posted by: Trisha Fawver at August 15, 2007 8:12 AM

I kinda saw this coming last year, but it's been getting more and more real lately. I've got at least six "active" blogs but rarely get to focus on more than one at a time. That suits me okay, because I like to switch the focus now and then. Whatever's hot at the moment gets my attention.

But this summer has been off the hook. I'm swamped with sales, clients, media requests, personal conversations and projects in development. It's a funny dichotomy… the more I have to blog about, the less time there is to do it.

Personally, I miss blogging more. I actually enjoy it. Twitter's okay, but doesn't seem (yet) to generate the kind of benefits that blogging has. Facebook leaves me cold because it's too much of a pain to add people, etc. Most of my time online seems to be about email now… because that's the best way to close the deal usually (for me).

Posted by: John Unger at August 15, 2007 6:21 PM

hmm; blogging or talking; blog or phone ? Yes one can get either, but does that mean using it everyday or every hour ? The novelty must adjust and perhaps the more frantic, daily-updated blog is sometimes too much. bring on slowblog...

Posted by: James T at August 15, 2007 7:27 PM

There's something about the rush of chasing a topic that's being widely discussed that gives you an adrenaline boost. But after 200 adrenaline boosts, the jolt isn't as noticeable. Either you get past the adrenaline phase, or you look for a bigger jolt elsewhere.

I still love the focus, structure and interaction of blogging. Some days, though, it feels way too much like work....

Posted by: Eric Eggertson at August 16, 2007 6:30 AM

Blogging does take an effort whereas many of the current vogues of facebook, twitter etc are low-input and you don't have to think that deeply. But the rewards are in proportion to the effort - facebook tends to connect you to people you know, while blogging can connect you with totally different people that you would never encounter.

One thing that does lend credence to the notion that blogging is on the wane is the mainstream media telling us that it's a key influencer of the upcoming election. When they get to trumpet somethings power it's usually on the way down.

Posted by: Neil K at August 17, 2007 1:05 AM

7. Plain old fatigue. It can get tiring, being expected to have an opinion on every little thing. People need a break now and then.

Posted by: Jim Treacher at August 20, 2007 4:04 AM

Believe it or not, some of us have better things to do than to be continually justifying ourselves to a crowd of passive-aggressive, self-loathing, loser fucktards

Don't mince words now! ;) :D :-P

Posted by: Chuck Adkins at August 20, 2007 4:39 AM