Tim Blair takes a short partisan approach to suggest there is a decline in the number and influence of blogs, while Derek Barry takes a longer look at evidence which suggests that blog influence is growing.
I don’t think there is any question that traditional blogging has peaked, however I do believe that blogging is making a serious play for influence in the overall media landscape; from straight commentary, to local coverage of events like that of Burma.
However, the big mistake everyone makes is to view blogging as a single destination for influential conversation when in fact it’s just another stop along the way for more folks to participate and network on the web. Like the Usenet groups that came before it, the days of blogs holding sway over conversations are over.
More important now is assessing overall web influence through the increase in millions of micro conversations and connections via a whole range of platforms all of which combine to create a critical mass of participation, which can lead to an increase in influence over the issues of the day.
Blogging itself has probably peaked because social networks like Facebook have creamed off a lot of folks for whom blogging was too time consuming or difficult, but that doesn’t mean web based conversations have lost influence. Blogging took off because it made web publishing easy, social networks have taken that ease to another level with their combination of functionality and fun, this can only lead to more participation and influence.
You can see some of this in action on the issue of Clover Moore’s private members Bill for a new class of licence for small bars in Sydney. The creation of the Facebook group We want Funky Little Pubs in Sydney, which now has 4,829 members, has led to a wider public campaign by concerned citizens in support of Moore’s bill.
Called Raise the Bar, this site contains all the new media modcons, like a blog and podcast plus a take off on the hugely popular Booze Mail feature of Facebook converted to good use as a platform for activism; you can make your voice heard by sending your MP a drink with a note attached voicing your concerns.
No question that in future just about every site will have these kinds of functionalities automatically embedded.
As these conversations become stronger and more widespread they will have an even greater impact in future. So instead of seeing blogs a a single focal point for influence and participation, we should look at them as just one aspect of a larger revolution in conversation.