No, blogs are not dead, they are on summer vacation

It is always funny to hear how "blogs are dying", being abandoned in droves as bloggers are all moving to Twitter. It's funny how that works - you see fewer posts on a blog, or a couple of bloggers going on a summer hiatus, and the sky is falling!

In response to the latest such lament (which includes a seed of an idea that many have already developed at length and detail), I wrote this in the comments, and thought I'd repost it here for more discussion:

It is June. Blogospheric summer slump has been observed every summer since blogging started. Nothing surprising: kids are out of school and the weather is nice, so it is much more fun to go to the beach than to blog. Many bloggers make official summer breaks in blogging, others ease up and put up filler material like YouTube videos.

The very first blogs were linkblogs. Web was young and most of the stuff on it were static pages. Bloggers would discover interesting pages and link to them from their blogs for their audiences - they served as filters (what years later moved to digg, redditt, stumbleupon, etc.).

Soon after, as the blogging software improved, people started using their blogs for all sorts of things. Some continued linkblogging. Others started writing in long form. Most did a mix of little bit of everything.

Today, there is a plethora of different platforms that are more suitable for various activities that in the past had to be done on a blog. Quick links or brief statements can be placed on microblogging platforms like Twitter, FriendFeed and Facebook. Some things that are a little longer, or a little different (photos, videos, quotes) are best posted on mesoblogging platforms like Tumblr and Posterous. The good ole' blog is now free from all that small stuff and remains the platform for long form essays only, at least for some bloggers.

So, what a blogger used to do only on a blog is now distributed across several platforms. It is pretty short-sighted to judge a blogger's output by the blog alone - one needs to evaluate the activity of the person across all the platforms: short form on microblogging services, medium form on mesoblogging services, and long form on macroblogging services.

Mindcasting is a process of using all those services in a fashion that is not disjointed. One starts with the idea, and gathers feedback (crowdsourcing) on microblogging places, develops the ideas further, incorporating feedback, on mesoblogging platforms, and puts together the final long-form product on the blog. If one is interested, one can go even further - pooling several blog posts into a magazine article, and several such articles into a book. That coordinated and systematic use of multiple platforms towards development of a single idea, is called Mindcasting.

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No. It's true. Twitter has completely replaced blogs. I always publish my 7000 word plus illustration pieces via Twitter and I'm sure you do your 20,000 word manifestos on Twitter.

What archy said.

I've yet to get a commission via Twitter, yet virtually every commission I've had is the result of blogitude. One is soundbites (at least from me - not from someone like Karen James) and the other is personality.

It baffles me why, when bloggers say they don't have time to do the substantive work of maintaining a blog, people leap to the conclusion they're choosing to tweet as a substitute. Tweeting is, as you point out, no substitute at all for the kind of blogging most of us do. I also find immersion in the Twitterverse to be a huge timesuck - at least as big as writing a few posts a week.

Twitter neither saves time over, nor substitutes for, blogging; if people choose to do it, they're doing it because they find Tweeting itself to be valuable.

Some do, some don't. I hope you did not get this conclusion from my post. Different people do different things. Some really quit the Web. Some move to Twitter because they tended to use their blog in Twitter-style before there was anyway. Some complement the two services in various ways. But seeing a decrease in blog output of a few bloggers and concluding that blogging is dead is myopic - yet this happens every year, for the past twelve years, with every generation of n00bs.