1999: When Blogger was just a gleam in Pyra’s eye
A crazy fad is sweeping the blogosphere: Prominent tech bloggers, including Kevin Rose, founder of Digg, and Bill Gross, founder of startup incubator Idealab, are giving up their blogs and pointing their eponymous domain names at their Google+ streams. That’s right: KevinRose.com now redirects to https://plus.google.com/u/0/110318982509514011806/.
And why? “G+ gives me more (real-time) feedback and engagement than my blog ever did,” writes Rose.
Sure, it could all be a big press stunt, the web equivalent of reviving one’s personal brand by going on Celebrity Apprentice. (It’s been an eternity in Internet years since Rose was any kind of Valley it-boy, and Idealab has long since been eclipsed by Y-Combinator and its imitators.)
But the speed with which bloggers who have spent years building a presence on the web, accumulating credibility with search engines, etc., made the switch to a platform they don’t really control, shows that blogs themselves have outgrown their original purpose.
Personal expression used to be what blogs were all about. But at some point along the way two things happened: First, publishers realized they were the most frictionless publishing medium ever invented, and that anyone who was serious about thriving on the web had to publish as many of them as their budget and the supply of talent would allow.
Second, the web became so large that there simply wasn’t time anymore to visit friends’ blogs, much less friends of friends’ or some random personal journal you stumbled into at an odd hour of the night.
Remember blog rolls? Looking back, we can say they were the original Facebook Friend lists, or Twitter Followers, or Google+ Circles.
With social networks competing for our attention, personal blogs that didn’t professionalize – turning into miniature versions of the publishing behemoths they were intended to overturn in the first place, completing a dance of mutual co-option – simply became ghost towns.
No visitors means no comments, and without engagement, what’s the point of sharing your thoughts with the world?
Hence, the exodous to Google+, which allows us not merely to update our friends on what we’re up to, but actually to blog, at length, publicly, completing the migration to a centralized platform that Facebook and Twitter began.
It’s not that blogs are dead. It’s that they’re ubiquitous.