Is the Golden Age of tech blogging over?

My colleague Jeremiah Owyang sure ruffled some feathers with his post claiming that the Golden Age of tech blogging is over. Aside from being a mentor and a tireless analyst, he’s also a long-time blogger. His words over the years helped blaze the trail for blogging and ultimately the micromedia bonanza that he believes is contributing to the erosion of long-form social prose. In his article, he quotes good friends Loic Lemeur, Ben Metcalfe, Ben Parr, Francine Hardaway, Chris Heuer and Dave McClure. Their perspective is always interesting. And, his post also drew telling comments from some of the best known names in tech blogging including Pete Cashmore, founder of Mashable, Sarah Lacy, Marshall Kirkpatrick, and Dylan Tweney, executive editor at VentureBeat.

His points are worthy of consideration. Kudos to him for sparking this conversation…feels like old times.

I believe that in brevity there’s clarity. While a chapter in the ongoing development of tech blogging is certainly coming to an end, in the overall story, it’s (finally) growing up…as it should. See, tech is more important than a locale. It’s more important than funding or personnel shifts. Its impact on culture, society, business, and human evolution is more profound than the pundits who usually cover it. Evolution is a good thing…and I believe tech blogging is merely undergoing a form of digital Darwinism of sorts.

I recently wrote about my thoughts on the state and future of blogs, which is of course far grander than the world of tech blogging. And as you can see, blogging is alive and clicking.

Yes, micromedia, video, and social transactions/actions are breaking through our digital levees and causing our social streams to flood. And, yes, Flipboard, Zite, and the like (get it?), are forcing our consumption patterns into rapid-fire actions and reactions. You have a choice. You are either a content creator, curator or consumer. You can be all of course. But, think about this beyond the mental equivalent of 140 characters. What do you stand for and what do you want to become known for? The answer is different for each of us. But, content, context, and continuity are all I need to learn, make decisions and in turn inspire others.

I can assure you that the right voices will find the right platforms to escalate the genre and continue to influence all forms of media and those who create it. Watch what happens in 2012. It’s part survival of the fittest and survival of the fitting. I’ve got my eye on some of the names you know as well as many that you don’t (but soon will).

This part is important…If we assume that human beings can only process bytes instead of depth we are confined to competing merely for the moment. That is a game for the AOL’s of the world. What’s changing right here, right now is the players, not the game.

In fact, this is the time to compete for attention by not just feeding it forgettable snacks here and there, but enrapturing it through value, direction, and insight. Do the work no one else can make the time to do. There’s always a market for intelligence…it’s just a matter of which market you decide to pursue.

I believe the next Golden Age lies in syndicated context (yes it’s a play on words) and like a multidimensional chess board, we will compete for attention on several different fronts (playing their game, their way) while expanding reach in the process. There’s tremendous value in trusted content. The secret lies not in character count, but in perspective…seeing what others can’t and doing what others won’t. Just don’t lose sight of who you are and why you’re here. You’re part of the reason we’re here in the first place.

#AdaptorDie

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  • http://twitter.com/CGarafola Chris Garafola

    #AdaptorDie …love it.

    • http://www.briansolis.com/ briansolis

      ;)

  • http://web-strategist.com/blog Jeremiah Owyang

    Great points, the players are changing, not the game.  I certainly agree with that, the game is the same, bloggers and news are fighting for ‘attention’.  I do think some of the equipment on the playing field has changed and tastes of the audience has changed, and that’s just evolution.  Let’s continue this dialog, thanks for adding the the conversation.  Also, please return my stapler.

    • http://www.briansolis.com/ briansolis

      You brought up a lot of great points as always my friend. Thanks for shining the light on an important topic. And no, the stapler is mine…but I’ll gladly trade it for a glass of champagne ;)

    • http://twitter.com/THIRDwaveBiz Joe Winpisinger

      “The equipment on the playing field has changed”

      Please expound.

  • Steve Woodruff

    From the simple days of early blogging, we now have more multi-faceted platforms. That’s an evolutionary plus. The cream will always rise to the top, whether in writing, video, long-form books, or 140 characters.

  • John Cass

    I think Jeremiah’s post does ask some intriguing questions… maybe the biggest point I think I can agree with is that social conversations are easier in smaller environments. However, that doesn’t mean the long form of content is not still valuable.

    Brian, you are well known in the industry for writing long posts, and still holding everyone’s attention. there’s value in having the room to write. But there’s a disconnect between writing content on your own blog, and discussion content on someone blog. The blog isn’t your social network. I think people aren’t afraid of commenting, but their preference would be to continue a conversation via social communities. I do get that as a point from Jeremiah. I just think that there’s still very much of a role for writing content in the long form, and having your own website. Have something to point too.

    You don’t think the golden age is over for blogging, but blogs are not the only place you can now converse. You have to be prepared to discuss ideas and concepts in several places.

    The problem for any blogger, or company is that it takes a lot of effort to pay attention, and optimize content and conversation across so many different channels. To me that’s the biggest problem in marketing today. Those companies that manage conversations with an editorial calendar, or a strategy will succeed, and that applies to media as well as brands.

    Mashable is so successful because you have a committed writers, and community managers who write content, and engage that content and conversation across networks.

    • http://www.briansolis.com/ briansolis

      Thank you John. It’s great to hear from you. Certainly no one can argue that the conversation is distributed. That’s the value of sparking dialogue. As I said in 2008 (http://www.briansolis.com/2008/03/ladies-and-gentleman-conversation-has/) and again in this post, it’s about architecting meaningful dialogue in a hub and spoke format. The farther the conversation spreads that better it is for the topic and all of its participants. I refer to this as syndicated context and I believe that for those who are willing to master multiple domains, their work will be valued in each community in which conversations are nurtured.

  • http://www.billhandy.com Bill Handy

    Cross posted from your google plus page - 

    The golden age of anything always comes to an end – generally because of our inability to maintain the value to the larger audience. Case in point – your posting a blog and feeding it through several channels. Sigh, where to post my comments – here, on your blog or elsewhere. 

    These are the challenges we’ve created and in the process have confused the end user. I’m hearing it from my Social Media students – they get social media but the evolution doesn’t seem to be for the better. They are quick to point out its not a natural evolution but one forced by un-altruistic motivations. Keep in mind they are looking at it form a holistic point of view – covering both tactical elements and strategy to persuade and influence and also the evolution of how information is shared and served up. 

    We also have to understand that the evolution we continue to witness impacts more than how we interact. It impacts how we think and feel. The cultural impacts are great and possibly damaging all at the same time. I’m not a naysayer of social media, quite the opposite. But students who take my class leave understanding there is a moral road to take with its usage. 

    So, back to the question – is the golden age over? Doubtful but definitely tarnishing simply because of our lack of care.
    ——-
    An addition to my g+ comment – as we look at value of social media wouldn’t it have been better to post this but close your comments and instead point people to the original article where an awesome debate is already taking place? The topic of altruistic social media practices is something i’ve kicked around for a few years. Thoughts?

    • http://www.briansolis.com/ briansolis

      What a tremendous comment Bill…it’s good to hear from you. To your first question, a comment of this caliber deserves to exist where attention is focused….as you’ve done here and on Google+. There’s an interesting study conducted by USC where they validate, at least initially, the affects of micromedia on our ability to feel information that whips by our attention. It’s not so much attention that’s thinning (I’d argue it’s focusing on what’s perceived to be important in the moment), it’s that empathy’s elasticity is being tested.

      With social media comes great responsibility…

    • http://www.stealthmode.com hardaway

      I agree with Bill. I don’t know where to comment either, and often too busy to spend the week crossposting. As a result, I give up, and someone doesn’t get a comment:-) I am sure I am not alone.

    • http://www.themyndset.com Minter Dial

      Love the idea of empathy elasticity.  I think that the economic crisis has probably tightened the elastic somewhat, too.

  • http://www.briansolis.com/ briansolis

    From my recent “State of the Blogosphere” post…
    With the love affair content creators, creators and consumers experience
    with social networks, micromedia and curation, blog posts contribute to the
    library of knowledge around any subject. They offer the ability to
    express perspective and offer context in  statusphere and they influence decisions, actions, and behavior.
    Whether it’s to demonstrate thought leadership, earn authority,
    generate leads, change perception or sentiment, blogs continue to lead
    the way while disrupting traditional media along the way.

  • http://www.johotheblog.com dweinberger

    I think in a sense it’s true that the golden age of blogging is over, but that’s a good thing. And not because of anything bad about blogging. On the contrary…

    Blogging began when your choices were (roughly) to dive into the never-ending, transient conversational streams of the Internet, or create a page with such great effort that you didn’t want to go back and change it, and few could bother to create a different page in order to comment on yours. Blogs let us post whenever we had something to say, and came with commenting built in. The Net was already conversational; blogs let us make static posts — articles, home pages — conversational.

    Thanks to that, we now take for granted that posts will be conversational. The golden age ended because when a rare metal is everywhere, it’s no longer rare. And in this case, that’s a great thing.

    Yes, that metaphor sucks. An ecosystem is a better one. Since the Web began, we’ve been filling in the environmental niches. We now have many more ways to talk with one another. Blogs continue to be an incredibly important player in this ecosystem; thank of how rapidly knowledge and ideas have become part of our new public thanks to blogs. But the point of an ecosystem metaphor is that the goodness comes from the complexity and diversity of participants and their relations. I therefore do not mourn the passing of the golden age of any particular modality of conversation, so long as that means other modalities have joined in the happy fray.

    Blogging isn’t golden! Long live blogging! :)

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  • http://twitter.com/divbhansali Div Bhansali

    Great points, and I especially appreciate your perspective that the right medium depends largely on the content producers themselves – their goals, their writing styles, and their message. Many have pointed out that every audience member consumes media differently, but I think it’s valuable to remember that the “supply” side of content is every bit as varied and richly nuanced as the “demand” side.

    Thanks as always for your great work.

  • http://www.stealthmode.com hardaway

    You have encapsulated my thoughts here: the right voices will find the right platforms to escalate the genre and continue to influence all forms of media and those who create it.

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  • http://www.themyndset.com Minter Dial

    Talking about hub & spoke, I thought I might take the “spoke” over the seas.  I live in Paris and work in Europe.  There is a huge gap in with this conversation here on this blog and the ones that are happening over here in France. For my reckoning, European blogging is far behind that of North American/English-speaking blogging (to include Canada and England).  This is due to a combination of maturity and language.

    One of my observations has been that many French (and indeed English, too) “stars” of social media maintain their source of inspiration from across the pond.  A large percentage of social conversations over here are more or less rehashes of what is happening in North America.

    To the extent tech blogging helped spur regular blogging, if the Golden Age of Tech Blogging is over, I wonder if this could have the effect of widening the divide with Europe.  Blogging is still very uncommon in business over here.  Maybe France (and mainland Europe), which typically has a history of appreciating long-form journalism, will need to vault over blogging to find another form? 

    On the subject of blogging and on social media for business, in general, the visible fatigue seems to me to be related to the result of too many choices and a lack of clarity of direction.  With time being squeezed, the “easy” answer becomes micro-blogging and/or curation.  With long form blogging, the chances are that there will be a congregation around a few pillars.  Just as internet traffic has concentrated on a select group of sites, the same will likely happen to a few headline bloggers; thus, a few less spokes to the hub. 

    As for business, I agree with John Cass, that the companies with a strategy and content calendar will likely win out, providing they have the talent and a good story to tell.

    • Rey Ybarra

      Minter,
      Great post!  A strategy for social media is of the utmost importance.  Producing outstanding content is crucial as well.  Staying the course with both of these tactics will help you go far for 2012 and beyond. 

  • http://www.insideview.ie topgold

    A true testimony to the value of this post is the conversation it spawns in associated networks. And it’s no mean feat that Brian Solis has earned more “likes” to Ben Parr’s related Facebook question, “Is Jeremiah Owyang wrong?” 
    http://www.facebook.com/ben.parr/posts/242156969189953

    • http://thirdwavebiz.net/ Joe Winpisinger

      I would agree.

  • Rey Ybarra

    “Do the work no one else can make the time to do!” Bravo!! I love it. That motto has helped me to achieve success and new results for myself as a content producer.  We are all pressed for time, however, those who make the time to read wonderful articles like the one you posted Brian, share this content and also create it are the ones who will be ahead of the game.  I look forward to reading more articles and sharing them.  Happy New Year!!!

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  • http://twitter.com/gerardodada Gerardo Dada

    In the scope of techynology adoption, I think this a good case where Gartner’s hype cycle applies – Blogging has gone from a ‘peak of inflated expectations’ (i.e. buzzword) to a ‘plateau of productitivy’ as it is now broadly understood as a communications and most people are clear about its advantages and limitations. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hype_cycle)

    I still think blogging has room to grow. The ability to sort publications chronologically (default), by author or very granularly by topic (tags) and its natural ability to publish/push/pull (RSS) is unmatched by traditional content management systems and other communication tools.

    I really like this quote “Bloggers today are people who actualluy have something to say. Everyone else is uploading cat photos on Face­book. http://bit.ly/uyUbZM

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  • http://twitter.com/THIRDwaveBiz Joe Winpisinger

    This is outstanding as usual. I write a lot about Christopher Columbus, Aristotle, and Adam Smith among others. The reason is to inspire people beyond what is popular for 10 minutes on Twitter and toward sharing ideas that be talked about 500 or 5,000 years from now. Few will make to that level but if more reached out for it we would all be in a better place.

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ABOUT ME

Brian Solis is a digital analyst, anthropologist, and also a futurist. In his work at Altimeter Group, Solis studies the effects of disruptive technology on business and society. He is an avid keynote speaker and award-winning author who is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in digital transformation.

His most recent book, What's the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences (WTF), explores the landscape of connected consumerism and how business and customer relationships unfold in four distinct moments of truth. His previous book, The End of Business as Usual, explores the emergence of Generation-C, a new generation of customers and employees and how businesses must adapt to reach them. In 2009, Solis released Engage, which is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to market, sell and service in the social web.

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