Is it true that this is the time to go beyond blogging?

Is it true that this is the time to go beyond blogging?


Blogging is for the oldies, it’s fashionable now to Twitter, maybe even to podcast. And anyone not on Facebook is Luddite.

WHEN I started socio-political blogging on Jan 1, 2003, I had all of one peer: Jeff Ooi who began blogging the day after. I stopped blogging six months later when I joined a mainstream news media company while Jeff continued full steam ahead. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Jeff went on to become an alpha blogger and inspired a legion of other socio-political bloggers. But for many years, he would complain that he was virtually alone in his endeavour.

Now, there are too many of them to keep track of. Some write for mainstream media, some get paid to write official blogs for online media and some have managed to make a living from the online advertising that their popular blogs attract.

Like it or not, blogging has become a mainstream activity. Famed tech author Nicholas Carr (who wrote Does IT Matter), says blogging has entered a midlife crisis and likens it to “the state and fate of a literary form that once seemed new and fresh and now seems familiar and tired”.

He notes that many popular blogs are today commercial ventures, bloated and gear ed towards selling ads.

“Some are good, some are boring, but to argue that they’re part of a ‘blogosphere’ that is distinguishable from the ‘mainstream media’ seems more and more like an act of nostalgia, if not self-delusion,” Carr says.

Carr is not alone in this observation.

“Scroll down Technorati’s list of the top 100 blogs and you’ll find personal sites have been shoved aside by professional ones,” says tech writer Paul Boutin in an article in Wired magazine.

“Most are essentially online magazines: The Huffington PostEngadget,TreeHugger. A stand-alone commentator can’t keep up with a team of pro writers cranking out up to 30 posts a day.”

The Economist magazine has also commented about the “death” of blogging as a niche and alternative activity.

“Blogging has entered the mainstream, which – as with every new medium in history – looks to its pioneers suspiciously like death,” the article says.

“Nearly every newspaper, radio and television channel now runs blogs and updates them faster than any individual blogger ever could. Professional blogs such as Huffington for liberals (with 4.5 million visitors in Sep tember) or for conservatives (with one million visitors in that month) have played a big role in America’s election season, according to comScore, an online-measurement firm.”

It’s not surprising that many of the original bloggers have stopped blogging or only do so infrequently (such as Jeff Ooi). Carr notes this phenomenon and cites statistics from Technorati, which has identified 133 million blogs since it started indexing them in 2002.

At least 94% of them have gone dormant, the company reports in its most recent “state of the blogosphere” study. Only 7.4 million blogs had any postings in the last 120 days, and only 1.5 million had any postings in the last seven days.

If you are not yet a blogger and are thinking of starting, Boutin has some friendly advice for you: “Don’t. And if you’ve already got one, pull the plug.”

That’s pretty brutal and harsh. I would never advise anyone not to blog. But I would suggest they complement their blogs with other activities. I have three in mind that I think are particularly relevant and effective.

The first is that you must have a Facebook page. I’m actually not a huge fan of Facebook and I don’t spend a lot of time there but many people do. And more importantly, many people use Facebook as a reference point to find out more about you.

Time was when people wanted to check you out, they would Google you. Now, they just go to Facebook and look up your profile. If you’re not on Facebook, many people will think you’re a Luddite.

The second thing is to Twitter. For those of you who are not yet familiar with it, Twitter is a micro-blogging site that allows you to upload short postings on the fly (you can do this via the web or via your mobile phone).

It’s called micro-blogging because the site limits your entries to fewer than 140 characters. While this might seem like a burdensome restraint, it actually helps to keep the writer focused. When you blog, there’s no word limit, when you Twitter there is. You have to make your point in as few words as possible. And that’s a good thing.

These days I Twitter more than I blog. It’s fast and I don’t have to think of long passages to write when I just want to share a simple point.

Another important reason is that Twittering is not yet a mainstream activity, so the ones who do it are the early-adopter types whom I can learn a lot of things from. I find Twittering and reading Twitter entries fun and exciting. Like blogging used to be.

The third thing is podcasting, which has also yet to take off here. I’ve been experimenting with it on and off for some time now and next year (which is just round the corner), I will be doing it regularly, and with gusto. So, look out for it.

Some people have asked, why podcast when you can YouTube (make short video clips)?

First of all, although I’m hardly hideous, I’m not exactly Brad Pitt either. Why would people want to see a video of me?

Secondly, bandwidth is still a problem in this country and even YouTube videos, which are not very big, do not stream smoothly most of the time.

Thirdly, it’s much easier to edit audio than it is with video. And I believe editing is crucial for quality, whether you are dealing with text, still images, audio or video.

It’s worth noting that Evan Williams, the guy who co-founded (eventually bought over by Google) later co-founded Twitter and Odeo (a podcasting service company). It’s clear where he thinks the future of New Media lies.

Oon Yeoh is an old media guy who dabbles in New Media. You can check out some of his New Media activities at


By OON YEOH in The Star online

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