Nicholas Carr can be counted on for thought provoking commentary with regards to technology. His latest that I’ve read is Who killed the blogosphere?
While I don’t disagree with his facts, I do disagree with his slant and the notion of “killed”. I think it is not a matter of death, but of transition. What the blogosphere is undergoing is a transformation that many amateur enthusiasms experience.
It’s not all that different from a few years ago, when lots of people first started creating “home pages” during the start of the World Wide Web, a trend that eventually transitioned into….blogging! This has happened in the past too, as Carr points out, with things such as amateur radio being pushed out by professional radio.
In fact, if a new media does take off, the “pros” tend to come in and take over with better content and quality. It happened with web sites. It happened with radio, recorded music, and now blogging. (Although not always: CB radio was very popular for a time in the 1970s, and then died down without professionals taking over since the medium didn’t lend itself to that.)
What happens with blogging now? The serious bloggers like josh Marshall and Andrew Sullivan have turned it into their profession and do it regularly, just like any other writer in a different medium. Indeed, many traditional journalists, while still doing their regular work, are also blogging regularly (e.g., Paul Krugman from the nytimes.com, Joe Klein from time.com.) Many more people, like myself, will continue to use it from time to time as a way of communicating and recording their ideas and experiences.
That said, I believe the overall numbers will decrease as people lose interest in blogging or find other social media to experiment with (e.g. twitter, twitpic, tumblr). Focusing just on that, and just on blogging, and I would agree that the blogosphere is dying.
But so what? What is not dying, I believe, and what will be increasing, is people creating social media and using social computing to tell their stories and listen to others. New technologies are developing, and more will come along, to capture their interest and provide people new ways to express themselves. New technologies that are cheap, easy, and good. The amateur enthusiasm for them will spring up all over again, and people will take to those new tools, just like they took to previous social media.
People have a need to connect, to communicate, to express themselves and to record their lives. The degree to which technology weaves into people’s lives will only increase. And so the use of social computing will continue to grow, regardless of what happens to the blogosphere, or the twitterati, or whatever is the hit of the month.
That’s my two cents worth. And that’s the powerful thing about the new social media. Nicholas Carr can write an article, I can write a rebuttal, and you can find both of them on the web (perhaps using the same Google search). From there you can make up your own mind. Better yet, you can add to the debate. Anyone can. I can’t see that going away, any more than I can see the desire for education or democracy going away.