Is blogging dead? (No, not really…)

The reports of blogging’s death have been greatly exaggerated.
(Bill IlottCC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

My friend Rebecca recently posted an entry titled “The Death of the Blog” that, at first, had me worried that she was shutting down her blog. Thankfully, that’s not the case. Rather, she was responding to a post that another friend of hers wrote that called into question the state of blogging in this post-Facebook era. Her friend writes:

I admit it. I probably interact on Facebook with friends — writing and otherwise — more than I do on my blog. Why? It’s an easier way to communicate. I haven’t hit Twitter yet, as I’m not sure I like the format, and I also haven’t tried out Tumblr (mostly because I don’t understand this micro-blogging phenomenon).
But it got me to wondering: are personal blogs dying? I’ve posted less and less as the years go by, and that’s a far cry from where I started out. I used to post every day. Now I’m lucky to get one a week.

There’s no doubt that it’s never been easier to post content online. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, et al. make it very easy to share articles, photos, videos, and other content that, up until a few years ago, you had to have a blog — and some nerd skills — to share.

However, that doesn’t mean blogs, personal or otherwise, are in any danger of dying. True, they require a greater time commitment to manage, but that actually points to one of their primary benefits. When you post something to Facebook or any other service out there, you’re posting it according to the type and format that they allow. What’s more, once you’ve posted it, that content is really out of your hands. Sure, you might be able to modify or delete it, but once your beautiful photo or witty comment goes into Facebook’s database, it’s never leaving and its destiny is no longer yours to control.

For me, that raises all manner of questions regarding ownership. The thing that I like best about running Opus is that it’s mine. I determine how it looks and works, what kind of content I can post and how it’s presented and structured, etc. When I post something to Facebook, they determine how it’s presented. Or, to put it another way, they determine its value. With Opus, I determine my content’s value.

Of course, Opus is hosted on a server that I don’t own in a hosting facility that I don’t control or have easy access to, so my immediate ownership isn’t complete: theoretically, the people who run the hosting facility could decide to close its doors tomorrow, take all of my data, and run away to a country that doesn’t have an extradition treaty. But even so, I have a business arrangement with my hosting provider, so if something goes awry, I could have some legal recourse. (Plus, it’s always a good idea to do regular backups, just in case.) If Facebook were to do something to my content, I’m not sure what recourse I’d have. Truth be told, I could write a really angry blog entry and… that’s probably about it.

But such ownership comes with a price. If something goes awry with Opus, I don’t have a battery of programmers and techs at my disposal to fix it — that’s all on me. If I don’t like the way a certain post looks, or how some piece of content is displayed on the site, I have to fix it. And of course, that’s in addition to all of the time spent on posting actual, honest-to-goodness content for people to read. But it’s worth it to me to have my own creation. But for some people, the trade-off isn’t worth it, and so Facebook et al., with their built-in conveniences, are simply better options.

But really, asking if blogging is dying, and if personal blogs are dying, is really asking two subtly different questions. Blogging is a wonderfully amorphous activity, and I’m not so elitist to say that if you’re posting quality content on Facebook or Google+, you’re not blogging in some fashion. When you look at it that way, it’s difficult to think of blogging ever dying, because blogging is really just making content available online for an audience. And so long as that content is high quality, relevant, worth reading, etc., then blogging — or whatever you want to call it — will keep living on in ever more interesting forms and permutations. Which is a beautiful thing.

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