Blogging – In Decline or Just Evolution?

By: Neville Hobson - January 10, 2011

There’s been a bit of commentary and opinion in recent weeks that blogging (meaning, written content longer than just a paragraph or two) as we know it is dying or even already dead when compared to the rise of Facebook and Twitter (meaning, very short content like the 140-character posts of Twitter).

It started last month with a new Pew Internet survey in America that some commentators suggest shows blogging is in clear decline as a means of popular online expression.

 It doesn’t look that way to me from reading Pew’s survey report. On the contrary, blogging isn’t so much on its deathbed as it is on a continuing evolutionary track:

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[…] Only half as many online teens work on their own blog as did in 2006, and Millennial generation adults ages 18-33 have also seen a modest decline—a development that may be related to the quickly-growing popularity of social network sites. At the same time, however, blogging’s popularity increased among most older generations, and as a result the rate of blogging for all online adults rose slightly overall from 11% in late 2008 to 14% in 2010. Yet while the act formally known as blogging seems to have peaked, internet users are doing blog-like things in other online spaces as they post updates about their lives, musings about the world, jokes, and links on social networking sites and micro-blogging sites such as Twitter.

That’s the US picture which, I would guess, is credible to project broadly speaking into other geographies such as the UK.

Then consider this picture – hosted blogging service is growing fast with over 6 million new blogs in 2010 and  pageviews up by 53%.

[…] Media uploads also doubled to 94.5 terabytes of new photos and videos, while new posts were up 110% to 146 million. Meanwhile, mobile WordPress blogging is on the up. The company’s userbase for its mobile apps increased 700% to 1.4 million in 2010.

A good indicator to reinforce the credibility of a view that blogging isn’t dead comes from  Anil Dash, a man who  knows a thing or two about the development and evolution of blogging and who has an interesting perspective on the role of short-form content tools like Twitter:

[…] Twitter and other stream-based flows of information provide an important role in the ecosystem. Perhaps the most important psychological innovation of Twitter is that it assumes you won’t see every message that comes along. There’s no count of unread items, and very little social cost to telling a friend that you missed their tweet. That convenience and social accommodation is incredibly valuable and an important contribution to the web.

However, by creating a lossy environment where individual tweets are disposable, there’s also an environment where few will build the infrastructure to support broader, more meaningful conversations that could be catalyzed by a tweet. In many ways, this means the best tweets for advancing an idea are those that contain links to more permanent media.

“Links to more permanent media” is the bit that especially grabbed my attention. Twitter (and Facebook, for that matter) is a terrific tool to alert your community and others of more fuller content elsewhere. Syndicating your content to your community, in other words.

No, blogging isn’t dead, it’s simply evolving.

Incidentally, the cartoon you see at the top was drawn in early 2005 by  Hugh MacLeod. It spectacularly summed up the sentiment of the time about blogging which, six years ago, was social media. There was even a t-shirt.

Originally published on

Neville Hobson

About the Author

Neville HobsonNeville Hobson is the author of the popular blog which focuses on business communication and technology.

Neville is a UK-based communicator, blogger and podcaster. He helps companies use effective communication to achieve their business goals. Visit Neville Hobson's blog:

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  • Anna

    Any blogger will tell you that it does take a bit of dedication to keep a blog going. It’s far easier to tweet random thoughts on a whim than post a full blog. Blogs are also harder to maintain and its easy to lose interest.

    • looby

      I’m 47 and have been blogging from the UK since 2005, in a personal capacity only – I’ve no ability to comment sensibly on politics, philosophy etc. This report chimes in with my necessarily subjective and unrepresentative experience.

      What has happened to my group of readers and fellow bloggers was this:

      1) Blogging began with an initial sense of being in a bit of a secret society, which gave one the feeling of a great deal of freedom in what one was able to say.

      2) Then the Guardian and other media organisations accelerated its rapid spread so that every Tom Dick and Harry was reading things which I only wanted to share with 20 or so people.

      3) Blogging then declined. One of my earliest, favourite, much-loved bloggers went off into socially safer but to me terminally boring posts about music and reports from gigs, from which the funny, moving and thought-provoking details of village life and his life with his boyfriend disappeared. Others simply stopped.

      4) Latterly, say in the last couple of years or so, it seems to have had a small resurgence. Middle aged and older people seem to have adopted it as a medium which allows more discursive discussions and confessions, and which retain that essential degree of social distance which facilitates the kind of chats we want to have, while younger people use short-format social networks as real time conversation and social planning.

      I should also mention – again, with the caveat of this being a single person’s experience, that blogging has, for me, created some real life friendships. I don’t use Facebook or Twitter. I wonder whether FB users do the same. I assume young people use FB to flirt online. Perhaps they do on Twitter too. But I think the longer format of blogging gives a greater richness to the impression of a person before you meet him or her, than can come from FB or Twitter.

  • Kirby

    Blogging is a bigger commitment but just because it is seemingly evolving to a different age group doesn’t mean its dead. Has anyone given any thought to the fact the age increase for bloggers just might mean it is becoming more popular and important in the corporate arena?

  • ameyer13

    I am one of the ones that feels that strolling through my minds thoughts and drooling out that which seeps through the cracks on a web-page is necessary and we need more tools to play out this role. The internet provides a perfect place to get so many different perspectives and touch on so many different subjects. I am currently taking this to a different level with the tools I’m using to extract my mind and throw it out across the world. I have gotten the Logitech Revue through work at Dish Network and therefore transmitting my mind’s chalkboard onto a big screen TV from the comfort of my couch with a wireless universal keypad. This is cool since I’m able to watch Family Guy while I talk to all of you. Blogging isn’t dead but it is evolving and so is the technology in which we have to utilize our spray of knowledge. I’m going to be having some fun and certainly be more comfortable doing it so I’ll be doing it longer and more intent.

  • Chem

    As long as blog stays as a seo tool, twitter and facebook is just a social network. Blogging pays not the other two.