After the peak of expectation in 2003-2005 came the trough of disillusion as first Facebook and then Twitter became the place for short status updates and community conversations.
Yet blogging survived, and in some areas is even seeing a revival.
Here are five reasons for blogging's surprising survival:
- Humans have an innate desire to connect and communicate. Blogging is essentially personal publishing, and many will continue to seize the opportunity for creative self-expression. Is there anyone in the world more compellingly readable than Penelope Trunk?
- Twitter's strength as a 'push' channel helps drive traffic to sites like blogs with regularly updated content ('hub and spoke' strategy).
- Blogging is evolving from personal to professional publishing. Newspapers and magazines are increasingly based on blogging software, a glimpse of the future.
- WordPress is one of open source software's greatest hits.
- Newer services like Posterous and Tumblr are making blogging much more agile.
And here are five reasons why I still advocate blogs in education:
- Open source learning is a powerful concept. Students who connect beyond the classroom are the most employable. 1b: Reaching out to graduates and potential students is good PR for courses and universities. 1c: Some blogs have the potential to become as valuable as academic journals (PR Conversations is an admirable collaborative experiment).
- It's a level playing field, and not even limited to current students to participate. (Take a look at this aspiring PR student.) Nor do teachers necessarily have an advantage over their students. Here's one I'm incapable of developing or improving.
- There's a place for class blogs and for assessed blogs, but I still favour non-compulsory blogs as a truer and more enduring reflection of a student's interests and personality.
- Is there a better way to learn about SEO than to start a blog, get discovered, and learn what makes people visit?
- Just because something's unfashionable doesn't make it bad. (Confession: as a student, I was an extra in a film called Chariots of Fire set in the 1920s. The costume team did not even need me to change clothes to look the part.)
Here are five things new (student) bloggers should do:
- Link to people you know (start with fellow student bloggers). This helps them to get discovered, and adds value to your blog.
- Comment on blogs you read. The author is sure to follow the link back to your blog and so discover you.
- Think carefully about the statement you will be making with your blog. Jazz Chappell is ee cummings-like in her conscious use of lower case. Rob Clarke is abrasive: he won't make friends with everyone, but he'll get noticed.
- Everyone can start a blog. There's no credit in this. The trick is to find your niche and enjoy what you're doing, like Sabrina Johnson.
- Tell others you're blogging (I welcome alerts on Twitter).