Prediction: 2010 will be the year of the blog

22 Dec

IainDale'sDiary You might think I'm five years behind the times, but the impact of technology is not linear, nor is it always predictable.

The Economist tells how commentators predicted in the 1840s that the telegraph would challenge newspapers. Instead, faster transmittal of news led to the era of the great newspapers.

Today, newspapers face bankruptcy. As The Economist article concludes:

The internet may kill newspapers; but it is not clear if that matters. For society, what matters is that people should have access to news, not that it should be delivered through any particular medium.

So we don't have a crisis of news; we have a crisis of news distribution and the need for a viable business model.

Here's my thinking about blogs. The first phase, championed by Blogger, Typepad and others enabled easy personal publishing. Yet growth in and buzz around personal blogs slowed as first social networks (like Facebook) and then microblogging (Twitter) satisfied most people's needs for expression and interaction.

Blogging hasn't gone away, but it has become less visible as the early adopters have been exploring new new tools. Yet quietly, this personal publishing platform has been developing into professional publishing. Open-source WordPress has been leading the way in this, as personal blogs give way to group blogs and sophisticated content management systems.

This development should not be surprising as it has a precedent. Newspapers emerged from the explosion of pamphlets enabled by the printing press (a disruptive technology in its day). At first, these pamphlets were personal and amateurish; in time, they became more professional and evolved into the newspapers whose names we're still familiar with.

So, in predicting that 2010 will be the year of the blog, it's not personal, amateur blogs that I have in mind. It's well-researched, professional blogs in specialist niches such as politics and business. The UK general election campaign will provide a local boost to the political blogs, and the challenge of the recession will boost the adoption of low-cost approaches to marketing and communications.

There's another factor in this trend. For many individuals, social networks and Twitter are alternatives to blogging. For the more professional bloggers, these networks provide valuable 'push' channels for attracting readers and encouraging the creation of communities of interest.

We've long been familiar with the role of the public relations practitioner as content creator. There's work here for those who are far-sighted enough to establish strategies and rationales for blogging engagement along with robust systems for writing, editing and moderation, while avoiding the obvious pitfalls of ghost-writing and the constant conflict between transparency and disclosure.

Then there's the emergence of a new role: the public relations practitioner as community engagement manager (with a blog one possible hub for the community).

5 Responses to “Prediction: 2010 will be the year of the blog”

  1. Bruno Amaral 22/12/2009 at 9:32 pm #

    I do hope you are right, because either way the communication potential of a blog did not die with twitter. At most, that potential grew by enabling more immediate reactions to what is posted and helping cut down on senseless posting.
    Still, I often see blogs created with no clear idea of what needs to be accomplished. This does not include just bad programming or structure, it’s the “out-of-the-box” approach together with an erratic editorial line.
    2010 is to be the year of the blog, it must also come with a greater focus on strategies to build and manage blogs.

  2. Richard Bailey 23/12/2009 at 9:24 am #

    That’s my point, Bruno. I predict continued rise of the professional blog – and continued demise of the unfocused amateur blog.
    I’m sad about this in some ways because it’s a move away from the joyful anarchy of ‘Here Comes Everybody’.

  3. Bruno Amaral 27/12/2009 at 1:46 pm #

    I went on twitter to ask the opinion of someone I know works at the most used Portuguese blogging platform, @jonasnuts
    Her reply was interesting, she agrees with the main idea for the UK “market” but states that Portugal is two years behind. You prediction may come true for us in 2011 or 2012 and after that the lines will begin to blur (since people’s use of technology shapes its evolution).
    I hope she’s right, the alternative is that Portugal will skip the year of the blog altogether.

  4. Danny Whatmough 03/01/2010 at 11:34 am #

    I agree with you. Indeed I’ve predicted the same although for slightly different reasons. I believe that the growth of Twitter means that some of those bloggers whose hearts weren’t really in it, will migrate to the shorter form, leaving the real hardcore bloggers to really excel…

  5. Paul Seaman 04/01/2010 at 10:03 pm #

    I hope you are right about blogs. Iain Dale is certainly a great example to highlight because his blog has become part of mainstream online media. However the problem with professional blogging is the pay. I suspect that Iain Dale makes more money from writing for newspapers and from appearing on TV and radio than he does from his blog. But nevertheless, the brand that’s Iain Dale is his blog’s content and following.
    On another tack, I doubt Iain Dale’s blog would be half so interesting as it is right now if he was elected to Parliament and was subjected to party discipline.

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