Drawing on a new Pew Internet report on Social Media & Mobile Internet Use Among Teens and Young Adults, The New York Times headline is: Blogs Wane as the Young Drift to Sites Like Twitter.
It’s a misleading headline, so let’s unpack it.
First, blogs are not waning. All the major blogging platforms are growing. As noted in the article, Blogger’s visitors were up 9% last year, while WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg on his blog notes that WordPress is up 80 million views in the same period.
Second, while it is true that younger adults are moving away from blogging in its traditional sense, older adults are blogging more than they used to.
Third, young people under 18 are certainly not drifting to Twitter, but to social networks such as Facebook.
The biggest users of Twitter are 18-24 year olds, however older people are also major users.
One of the key factors in these shifts is that blogging is fragmenting into different platforms, notably withthe rise of Tumblr and other “mini-blogging” platforms. Here is the latest traffic data on Tumblr, showing that the trend isn’t slowing down.
I’ve been blogging since 2002, and seen many changes in the space over the last 9 years, from a massive surge over many years to a fragmentation into multiple forms:
* ‘Traditional’ blogs;
* Micro-blogs such as Twitter; and
* Mini-blogs, which sit in-between the two.
Traditional blogs are just one possible platform for content creation and sharing. One of the most interesting findings of the Pew report is that there are now only small differences between the content creation propensities of young people and adults. It wasn’t long ago that social media was seen as a young person’s game. No longer.
As Scott Rosenberg points out, it is absolutely phenomenal that 1 in 7 online adults in the US are effectively publishers of their own content. Whoever said blogging was a fad can count themselves amply disproved.
The most important findings of the report are the scope and degree of content creation and sharing across all ages. Certainly, there are now many more platforms to do that. Not surprisingly, older people tend to favor longer-form writing and younger people shorter-form platforms.
One of the questions is what is a blog? While I’ve never been a major fan of the world blog, that’s the word we have, so we might as well stick with it. And the rapid development of blogging in the broadest sense of personal content creation, now in increasingly diverse forms, is one of the few most important trends of this century so far.