Is Blogging “Out”? No, We Need a Better InterfaceOkay, Mark Schaeffer’s tweet, “What Will Become Of Blogs And Blogging?” caught my eye today, and sent me on a thread-chase where I listened in on his point-counterpoint with Mitch Joel on the future of blogging. Their convo was almost an hour long, but worth the listen. However, if you’re strapped for time, it came down to this:

  • Mark sees the impact of blogs eroding because of the mobile boom (for 25% of web browsers, mobile is the first screen of access, and it’s 50% for Facebook users). If you’re not adapting to that, you’re going to die.
  • Mitch countered that what keeps blogging alive is new blood, new ideas, and new ways of “tinkering with words”.

While I agree with Mark that for the present, the tiny screen of mobile needs to be dealt with, the ultimate answer won’t be for us to adapt to it.

I found it funny that Mark doesn’t see that hardware needs to adapt, not necessarily the content. Why? Well, his “eye opener” for seeing the decline of the blog answers that question. Mark attended the 2,000 attendee Blog and New Media World in the hotel basement. Meanwhile the 20,000 attendee National Book Expo was partying a few floors up. To which he quipped, “Weren’t books supposed to be dying?”

I’m kind of amazed Mark said that! Thanks to my new Kindle device, I’ve read more this year than I have probably in the last five years combined. The reason is really simple – I have a better interface that allows me to tote hundreds of books anywhere I want to go. Now that eBook self publishing has come into its own, the big publishers need to keep pace of course, and provide enhanced book experiences to stay in competition.

Is blogging on it’s way out?

I’ve got to have a better interface. (Reginald Barklay, Star Trek TNG)

Blogging isn’t dead, as long as we have new content to consume (and that seems pretty likely, with 55 million WordPrss blogs alone!) What we need is a better interface for consuming content, and it’s coming!

Technology like Google’s interactive heads-up glasses paired with hand gesture interfaces like Leap Motion make it pretty obvious that we’ll be moving off the traditional screen pretty soon. When these ways of interacting become widely distributed (and they will – quicker than you can imagine) screen size will be irrelevant. We’ll be able to scroll screens with the wink of an eye. We’ll be able to leave comments on blogs by voice and video.

Improve or die

Mark also makes the point that those who continually improve and adapt will survive in a free market economy. Totally agree!

How do we improve blogging?

The interface imperative is there, and so is the excellence imperative. Fortunately, there is a lot of excellent content out there in the blogoverse. What’s most challenging (and often frustrating) to me as an information consumer is the huge amount of information out there. I need to have ways to organize and pre-qualify the information that is flooding into my digital world as relevant and reliable.

Right now most of us are depending on trusted brands and our community to determine what’s worth consuming. If CNN tells me it’s news, I’ll read it. If my friend Betty posts a blog article, I’ll check it out. If its on Joe’s blog, I trust it. Will we continue to trust these channels in a world where we know so much is driven by agenda and profit rather than a quest for truth, and even our friends can be snookered by a slick headline? Okay, I”m getting a bit too philosophical, maybe even a bit cynical, but these questions have practical implications. We need content curators in this information bloated world, and trusted channels of information in a world where trust is hard to gain and easy to lose. This is where I see the need for improvement in the blogosphere and the Internet at large.

I’m excited for the future of blogging. I hope you are, too!