A. A. Milne used the title first, in 1927. Now it's our turn, because today TYWKIWDBI celebrates its sixth birthday, so I will use this "blogiversary" to engage in a bit of omphaloskepsis.
My own personal sixth year was quite memorable - I was one of over 50,000 unwilling participants in the huge polio epidemic of 1952. After prolonged instituionalization and rehabilitation at the Sister Kenny Institute in Minneapolis, I was discharged ambulatory on my "sticks" in time to see a classic satin-bedecked (and satin-bearded) Santa Claus. I should think that in that December of 1952 the future must have looked bright and limitless (and endless).
Now it's my blog that's six years old, and the blogiversary provides a stimulus to muse about the future of this vehicle. Jason Kottke, one of the doyens of blogging, has just done the same thing, in an op-ed piece for the Nieman Journalism Lab. In his view the blogosphere has changed and the traditional blog is on its way out:
Sometime in the past few years, the blog died. In 2014, people will finally notice. Sure, blogs still exist, many of them are excellent, and they will go on existing and being excellent for many years to come. But the function of the blog, the nebulous informational task we all agreed the blog was fulfilling for the past decade, is increasingly being handled by a growing number of disparate media forms that are blog-like but also decidedly not blogs.More at the link, and at this followup companion piece, via BoingBoing.
Instead of blogging, people are posting to Tumblr, tweeting, pinning things to their board, posting to Reddit, Snapchatting, updating Facebook statuses, Instagramming, and publishing on Medium. In 1997, wired teens created online diaries, and in 2004 the blog was king. Today, teens are about as likely to start a blog (over Instagramming or Snapchatting) as they are to buy a music CD. Blogs are for 40-somethings with kids...
The primary mode for the distribution of links has moved from the loosely connected network of blogs to tightly integrated services like Facebook and Twitter. If you look at the incoming referers to a site like BuzzFeed, you’ll see tons of traffic from Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Stumbleupon, and Pinterest but not a whole lot from blogs, even in the aggregate...
Over the past 16 years, the blog format has evolved, had social grafted onto it, and mutated into Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest and those new species have now taken over. No biggie, that’s how technology and culture work.
TYWKIWDBI is also changing slowly. By the end of the year, this blog will have accumulated about 14 million pageviews of about 12,000 posts, but as I look at the metrics, it's obvious that the traffic is decreasing -
- in part I believe because more viewers are accessing the material via RSS feeds, but also because my own productivity (in terms of number of posts) has decreased each year since the peak in 2009. The numbers at the right come from the archive in the blog's sidebar; this year's posts will total fewer than half the number from five years ago.
The drop in traffic actually doesn't distress me, because I derive no income from the blog, so I reflexly (and repeatedly) dismiss offers to "trade traffic." Visitors and viewers are important and relevant to me only insofar as they contribute to the content of the blog, via informed comments and interesting personal observations, and I am recurrently amazed by the variety of expertise and insight that readers here bring to the table. I'm always delighted when a previously silent "lurker" pops up to offer a piece of information or a viewpoint that had never occurred to me. That feedback reinforces my motto that "you learn something every day."
For the near future, this particular blog will soldier on. Subject material is not (and never has been) a problem - the links I have saved in my "for the blog" folders now total over a thousand - which is quite ridiculous, of course. Time is the only limiting factor. I enter 2014 in good health and spirits; family responsibilities, including an elderly demented parent will require some time commitment but will also keep me near home and the computer. I may or may not incorporate some new themes after the "show us your bookcase" series fades out.
Today I will celebrate the blogiversary by stepping out the door to be greeted by 6-8" of snow newly fallen overnight on top of the ice from yesterday's freezing rain, which I will dutifully clear from the driveway and sidewalk. Those of you who reside in subtropical climes don't realize how much you've missed out on the character-building experiences of the sometimes-frozen North.