The New York Times has been publishing since 1851 – nine years before the start of the Civil War. The Boston Globe has been cranking out newspapers since 1872 – seven years before the invention of the cash register. And BusinessWeek began publishing when Herbert Hoover was president.
Blogs have been around since 1996 (the term “blog” was coined in 1997). The challenge with blogging is that most blogs are written by a single person (occasionally by a team). And most bloggers do it part time or as a hobby.
And most blogs don’t make money (or if they do – very low amounts). There are exceptions, of course. Blogs like TechCrunch, Mashable, and the Huffington Post have become runaway successes – and extremely popular money-making ventures.
But most blogs are not professional enterprises (Technorati says only 4 percent of bloggers are full-time professionals in its 2009 State of the Blogosphere report).
There’s little doubt that blogs are a powerful medium. They have become the communications engine of the internet; changing the way businesses, organizations, and people interact. But the question remains: Do blogs have a shorter shelf life than magazines and newspapers? Do they just naturally just run out of gas? And will they be replaced by other platforms?
The answer appears to be yes for all three.
The evidence can be found at Technorati in it’s two reports on the state of blogging for 2008 and 2009 (the 2009 report is being released in segments this week). In its 2008 State of the Blogosphere report, Technorati provided the numbers that point to the short life span of blogs:
- Technorati tracks 133 million blogs
- 74 million posted within the last 120 days
- 1.5 million posted within the last 7 days
- 900,000 posted within the last 24 hours
There is a chasm the size of the Grand Canyon between the number of blogs created and number of blogs that post on a weekly and daily basis. And fully 59 million blogs haven’t posted anything in more than four months. That’s an awful lot of defunct blogs collecting dust in cyberspace.
In its latest 2009 report(being rolled out this week), Technorati reports that fewer than 13 percent of bloggers have been at it for six or more years and that 64 percent of bloggers started less than four years ago. The report found that 66 percent of bloggers are blogging about the same or less in 2009 than they did in 2008 compared with 34 percent who now blog more frequently.
There is also anecdotal evidence that even popular blogs that have just ran out of gas or that the author has moved on to other communications platforms:
- Jason Calacanis, CEO of Mahalo, a once prolific blogger quit blogging in favor of an email “newsletter,” although he occasionally updates his blog with material from the newsletter.
- Robert Scoble from Scobleizer, once the poster child for blogging, has only posted four blog entries this month (the last one nearly 10 days ago). Last month wasn’t much better as Scoble posted only six times. This from a blogger that once posted nearly every day (although Scoble is still very active on other social media channels).
- Steve Rubel who once blogged at the popular Micro Persuasion bid farewell to blogging in order to focus on lifestreaming – a combination of micro-blogging and blogging at Posterous.
So what do you think? Is blogging sustainable? Or is it a temporary medium? Will there be blogs around in 10 or 20 years? Will we be celebrating the centennial of blogs in 2097?