“Is blogging dead?” – Another view

Yesterday Alex asked the question that has been on my mind for some time: Is Blogging Dead? He had some nice charts and graphs to illustrate the point, but in the end he thought not. Rather, he speculated, blogging provided an early social network structure that is now better served by Facebook and Google+. While some in blogging have left for these other platforms, there remains a dedicated contingent for whom blogging is the best platform to serve their needs.

There must have been a reason, however, that Alex asked the question in the first place, and in fact he is just the latest of many who have asked this same question with increasing frequency. The rise to pervasive dominance by Facebook (even better than sex) is an obvious factor, and although Google+ struggles to gain share, its better graphics-friendliness has cultivated a small but loyal following (hmm, sounds a little like another IBM vs. Mac). I don’t share Alex’s optimism about the future of blogging. I think social networks have not only pulled share from blogging platforms, but also made blogging irrelevant. The World Wide Web is now chock full of choices for information and entertainment, so much so that it is impossible to look at every site that might be of interest. Blogging takes too much time—why spend time reading long, prattling accounts of one person’s exploits when the short quips of 50 people can be read in the same amount of time? Limiting blogs to being primarily photo showcases doesn’t solve the problem—why spend time clicking through numerous individual sites to see photos that maybe you will like when all can be seen collated on a single page like Google+? Even the capability for interaction between the blogger and reader are better served by social networks—no logging in or word verification gauntlets; instead just a quick click of the “Like” button or, if the photo really struck a chord, a quick comment (“Cool photo!”). Gone are the long, interactive discussions following a post, having been replaced by greater reliance on use of the “Like” button for readers to indicate their approval. The sharp decline in appearance of new blogs and increasing dormancy of formerly active blogs (at least in the natural history realm) further illustrate the decline of blogging in the face of other online choices.

Where am I going with this? Obviously, as writer of ‘Beetles in the Bush’ I have a vested interest in the relevance of blogging. I’m beginning to feel, however, a little old school—like the Mom and Pop hardware store, offering an intimate, interactive experience to an increasingly hurried public that simply doesn’t have time for it. I’d like to know what your thoughts are? Is blogging really on the way out? Is Facebook-level quality for photos really just good enough, and if not is the showing of photos and exchange of ideas really better and more efficiently accomplished on Google+? Is all the extra information about natural history, learnings, etc. just an exercise in self-indulgence? I realize, of course, that any commentary received here will be skewed towards those still inclined to do such, and the thoughts of those who have already abandoned blogging for Facebook and Google+ will remain unknown—perhaps to the point that even this post was another exercise in self-indulgence. At any rate, I’ve been increasingly contemplating the future of individual blogs (and specifically natural history blogs, especially those by enthusiastic specialists) and what purpose they do/can/will/should serve. If everything I’ve said above is true, I personally don’t see how blogging per se can readily adapt to such realities—they essentially become a Facebook or Google+ stream of one!

p.s. These are expressions of an evolving thought process. Don’t expect any drastic changes here at BitB, at least in the near future!

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2012

About Ted C. MacRae

Ted C. MacRae is a research entomologist by vocation and beetle taxonomist by avocation. Areas of expertise in the latter include worldwide jewel beetles (Buprestidae) and North American longhorned beetles (Cerambycidae). More recent work has focused on North American tiger beetles (Cicindelidae) and their distribution, ecology, and conservation.
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60 Responses to “Is blogging dead?” – Another view

  1. Bug Girl says:

    I think that social media is turning into the *curation* of blogging. In other words, not everyone reads blogs, but they may participate in Facebook, and see a friend post a link and a comment.

    There are still long(ish) posts, but fewer people reading them–those people turn into influential connectors to spread the info.

    There also is an important “name and shame” element to blogs–I have seen decisions companies have made turned around after bloggers, and then social media, have spread the word.
    Unfortunately, this also works in a negative way–Starbucks will probably dump cochineal😦

    • Your comment regarding the fact that fewer people are reading long posts, with the ones who are being the influential connectors spreading the info is key. There seems to be a “headline worthy” bias to which posts get picked up, with those that whip up peoples emotions or falling into the “weird science” category far more likely to get propagated. Routine science posts are pretty well ignored – this is the part of blogging that is dying.

  2. AmasianV says:

    I hope there remains a demand/forum for longer form, insightful writing. I started blogging this year, although, admittedly more for selfish reasons–I wanted to try out writing to see how I would enjoy it and also to reignite my interest in science that was waning. But what I have found is that there IS overlap and integration of the use of social media and blogging to foster the longer discussions to which you refer.

    • I hope so too, and your reasons for starting a blog certainly rang true for me. I certainly continue to learn as I write. I don’t see as much synergy between FB and blogging, with everybody using the former as a forum to clammer for attention to their particular version of the latter. There is so little discussion on FB and Google+ – only quips of information, followed by quips for comments.

      • AmasianV says:

        Oh yes, I should clarify. By overlap and integration I think I mean that social media is being used as advertising and promotion of blogs. I agree, there is little to no substantial discussion on FB or G+.

  3. David Steen says:

    Those with attention deficits will always gravitate towards lists of photos or wikipedia (or the like) for information. I don’t recall ever seeing much of anything thoughtful or interesting on Facebook (I quit about seven months ago and haven’t regretted it once); I suspect most cruise that site to give their brain a break rather than engage it.

    There is a considerable niche for blogs that offer information, photos etc. with interesting and/or personal commentary. If blogs are written thoughtfully and with purpose, they will always be relevant. I think the goal is to avoid catering to the lowest common denominator and give an outlet to people that want to learn and think and be engaged.

    • My concern is not with the already attention-deficited, but with good bloggers and blog followers who have stopped interacting with each other on blogs in search of +1s on Google+. I do use FB for two unrelated purposes – one being it’s intended purpose (short updates to inform family and friends what I’m up to), and the other to announce new blog posts (which in the new world seems almost required). I’d rather just use if for the former, and maybe I’ll go ahead and join you in bucking the trend to using it for the latter.

  4. I agree with you on this Ted. It first struck when I joined Google+ and saw how many people were using it in a bloglike manner…short posts with good looking photos and a quick response from those who have circled you. I will continue to blog because for me it is still a tool for learning, and it can be customized in a way that says, “This is my home. Visitors welcome.” (I guess is just self-indulgence in my case!) I loathe Facebook, but use it grudgingly. Google+ is better for those of us with specific interests. It lacks character, but it at least gives us a tool to present our blog posts to a larger targeted audience.

    • We seem to have similar outlook on the whole issue, including the reasons why we both also use FB and G+ anyway. “This is my home. Visitors welcome” hits the nail on the head why I will continue to blog despite my concerns about where it is going.

  5. natureofaman says:

    I think it’s different audiences Ted. One is broad and horizontal, and the other vertical and topic-specific. Social networking services absorbed all of the former because they’re a better tool for broadcasting to that type of audience. Blogs, however (IMHO), are much better for collected, vertical, topic-based writing, with references and commentary, and thus are still the preferred medium for those purposes. Also, blog info goes much more cleanly into the collective human knowledge that is in Google and such. But again, IMHO…

    • Yep, different audiences all along. My fear is that there is a conversion of people from one audience to another going on. Maybe some people are fine with providing vertical, topic-based writing that is “discovered” whenever by an anonymous public, but I personally don’t get as much enjoyment out of that as I do having conversations with people about the subject.

  6. myrmecos says:

    I wonder if some of the drop is simply a linguisitic change. As blogging became mainstream and more sites adopted a blog format, people started searching more for “site” or “website” rather than “blog”.

    Unless Google+ & FB change their format to allow for longer, more detailed posts with many illustrations I don’t see blogs fading any time soon. I’m with Bug Girl here- people are changing the way they find and navigate to blogs, but it’s not a large abandonment of them.

    • Interesting comment, and I guess I should fess up that I refer to BitB as a “website” rather than “blog” when I tell people about it (the latter just sounds so “this is what I ate for dinner last night-ish”).

      Still, I wish I could share your optimizm. Sure, G+ doesn’t allow for longer-style content, but then why should it? People don’t want it. Maybe people are still visiting the blogs, but if they are they’re just skimming and not interacting with the writer like before – probably because they’ve got so many other sites they need to check. It is this “audience conversion” that I worry about.

  7. Dave says:

    Some of the most successful political blogs have always been fast and furious with short posts and links, rather than longer discussions of issues, so more like social media than a typical science blog. I can’t think of any similar science blogs, but perhaps social media is encouraging a similar mode? If so, then perhaps the question could be better framed.

    I think it should be something more like ‘Will social media degrade science blog content?’ That is awkward phrasing, but blogging certainly isn’t dead and I don’t see social media as much of a replacement for science (or gardening, or political, etc.) blogging. You can’t discuss issues in sound bites, so I would expect those interested in the issues to continue to with longer expositions on their blogs and to use social media mainly to advertise their blog postings and keep up with others.

    Student blogs may be an exception. I would not be surprised if there were a negative correlation between age and experience and the need for social approbation. If students tend to abandon blogging for the +1’s of social media, then perhaps science blogs will be cut off at the roots. But, if the so-called science bloggers who are actually political ranters left for Facebook and its ilk, then social media could actually be a good thing for science blogging. So, I see social media as a potentially mixed blessing for science blogging and I don’t see any indication that blogging per se is dead or dying or that science blogs will disappear. Of course, it does take time, energy, and a reason to blog and social media may tend to fritter those prerequisites away on chatter, so colour me just cautiously optimistic.

    • Your question is emminently better framed and addresses the issue from the same perspective as my term “audience conversion” in the above comments. Perhaps what has happened is that bloggers themselves – not just readers – have felt compelled to cross-link their blogs with FB with G+ with Twitter with who knows what else will come up that there’s simply no time to actually interact with each other. FB and G+ look like frantic “Look at me” contests and the seductive chase for +1s.

  8. TGIQ says:

    I would expect those interested in the issues to continue with longer expositions on their blogs and to use social media mainly to advertise their blog postings and keep up with others.

    What Dave said.

  9. scrapydo says:

    I love to do my own thing. Face book etc does not attract me. It’s just as if it is a place to gossip and to play games. Those who blog using information from internet are boring. I can look it up myself if I want to. Own experiences is much more interesting( that’s just my old fashioned opinion )

  10. I think the issue is as much about what the content creators are trying to achieve as it is about the tools available to them. If someone is trying to demonstrate that insects are awesome, they could easily be successful (success here meaning high followers/friends/viewers/whatever) solely using Twitter, G+ and Facebook and sharing short comments along with links, photos and/or videos which give their target audience short, attention-grabbing snippets. If, on the other hand, the content creator wants to synthesize information and provide a more in-depth discussion of a topic, actually explaining the significance of an insect for instance, then a blog is (in my mind) a better avenue to do so, allowing all of these media resources to be placed in a single post with context and flowing commentary.

    So is blogging dead, or even endangered? No, I don’t think so. Will we see more people choosing to use social media (rather than a blog) to share pictures, videos and written articles? Absolutely! But there will always be a need for people to explain how those pictures, videos and articles are connected, and the ephemeral nature of social media just isn’t the proper platform for that.

    • I believe there is an actual conversion of interests going on. I believe content creators have fallen for the seduction of followers/likes/pluses that come in much greater numbers with rapid fire quips on social media than long, probative pieces on a blog. The content creators themselves are changing, because social media provides an incentive to do so.

      Nobody actually “needs” information from blogs (except maybe students writing papers). While serving as online encyclopedias for such use is admirable, its not as much fun for the content creators as a dedicated audience that awaits each new post and then engages in discussion as multiple perspectives are revealed.

      • I’ll admit that my activity online has shifted considerably in the last few weeks as I found myself too busy to write new blog posts, and instead investing time into Twitter. I do look forward to new posts on my favourite blogs and have tried to read each post published by our ever-expanding cohort of insect bloggers, but I’ve been too relaxed about leaving comments (I blame the RSS reader I’ve started using, but that’s not really an excuse) and encouraging the dialogue that makes our online community such a vibrant environment! You’ve given me a good nudge here to get my act in gear and get back to engaging again; thank you for the kick in the pants!

        As for the “need” for information blogs create, I 100% disagree about nobody needing it! Curiosity never ceases, and as Wikipedia still doesn’t have all the answers, and the mainstream media doesn’t appear to care how well they report on science & nature, people will turn to Google to find answers, leading them right to our open doors. Sure we might not get a lot of ‘acknowledgement’ from casual readers by way of questions or comments, but I’d bet we impact a lot more opinions than we might imagine. I’m not sure how to go about gauging that reach (other than questionable analytical statistics), but I like to think we’re making a difference.

        Plus, if we stop producing content, what will all those social media mavens link to to get their +1’s and retweets?😉

        • Well, I meant “need” in a food/clothing/shelter sort of way, but I get your point and sort of agree. I just wish there was some way to more reliably quantify how useful the archived posts actually end up being.

  11. I personally blog and read others blogs as a hobby first, and for informational purposes secondly. Yes. accurate info is nice, but despite that, even if the extra stuff that comes along with it is ultimately pointless to an extent, it’s still fun to read through and write about. Even if you blog or read blogs strictly for informational purposes, you’d get more detailed and accurate information with a long, well written description. I hope others feel the same way… Interesting view on the “like/dislike” buttons, never thought too deeply into the reason why they’re there. This is personally my favorite blog and I’d be devastated if it disappeared!!

  12. I’m pretty new to blogs all together (I’ve only just begun using the internet for my science interests, previous to this it was all art sites for me), so I don’t have much imput so far as their health.

    I can say, however, that even as one of these visually-based youth (my preferred at-home time-wasters is opening a thousand tabs of art or macro photography and clicking through them in quick succession), blogs are quite important to me. “Morgan Jackson” articulated the main reasons perfectly.

    Additionally, I’d like to add that blogs provide a way of getting to know people. I know that’s what Facebook is about, but I don’t learn much from little blips, and honestly I’m an introvert so I don’t care much about my internet-friends anyway. But what I DO like to read about is people doing science – for real. I’ll read journal-articles for my college lab-reports, but with that as the only access to biologists/scientists, things get intimidating very quickly (are there humans behind these? how could I ever live up to imaginaryrobotscientists??). Blogs provide a way to show the more human side of scientists, photographers, painters. Pictures are great, but a narrative is muchmuch more valuable sometimes.

    That being said, I’m pretty much a lurker, so…back to lurking. But please keep on posting,

    • I certainly agree with your comments about learning more about scientists from their blogs than from papers. Part of what I want to accomplish is showing the passion and dedication that goes into what we do – it’s not just a job, it’s a lifestyle.

      Also, it’s nice to hear from a lurker – the great big question mark in all this. Lurkers are, by definition, unknown in their likes and reasons for following this or that blog, so to have insight, if only briefly, is much apprecated.

  13. Tim Eisele says:

    I think that, like everything else, blogging is evolving to take over a few particular niches, while giving up other niches where it wasn’t all that well suited. Just looking at my own, I see no sign it is dying, seeing as how the number of visitors is slowly but steadily increasing year-by-year. People still do (and will continue to do) searches when they want to know about something specific, and blogs are a big part of what they find. And I don’t think people even *want* to find twitters or Facebook posts when they do that sort of search.

    So any blog that is written with a view to being useful reference material in the future (like most natural-science blogs) has a solid niche, and will continue to do fine. Meanwhile, topic-of-the-week blogs that are competing head-to-head with other social media will lose ground.

    (ps: Ted, I received the photo in fine shape, it is even more beautiful in print than on the computer! My daughters helped me frame and hang it yesterday. Thanks!)

    • I look at the numbers and also see a steady increase. But I’ve gotten a little suspicious about what those numbers actually mean. For example, I have more than 1800 “Followers” here but get only half that many page hits and even fewer unique visitors per day. Google searches bring a lot of those here, so that means most of my “Followers” don’t even visit my blog. Same thing at G+ – I have over 3500 “Followers”, but there’s no way that many people – or even a fraction – are actually seeing my posts. I think WordPress and Google have each cooked up something with the numbers, for reasons that I can’t figure out but that have nothing to do with popularity.

      I don’t mind serving the niche of providing reference material, but it just doesn’t seem as much fun as it used to.

      p.s. glad you like the photo!

  14. Anna says:

    I like several other commentors I have recently started a blog. My blog is on the social networking side of things rather than scientific discussion or professional. One of the reasons I started a blog was to push myself to engage with technology and people on the internet, and to learn new skills. My personality doesn’t make using technology, facebook, or many computer skills easy. When I started my blog, I wondered if the blog format was out dated. Was my new horizon the setting sun?
    My blog has been going now for about 3 months. Most of my followers are family, friends, and co-workers. I have enjoyed creating the posts, taking photos, learning to make interactive quizzes, and creating images. I use my blog much differently than G+. On G+ I just posted articles that other people or news organizations wrote. On the blog, I spend time writing a post of something that interests me.
    The blogs I read teach me new things about subjects I am interested. I enjoy reading about Argentinian beetles and yes seeing their photos. I believe that I could send you a photo of a mystery beetle for identification. I don’t know you, but you are a resource to me because of a blog.

    • Hi Anna – you are an example of what I do like about writing a blog. I’m glad to know you see BitB as a resource, and of course feel free to send a mystery beetle photo for ID if you ever need it.

  15. vsvevg says:

    Interesting. I hope blogging isn’t dead, I just started! I follow your blog because I live in central Mexico and beetles are a plague in my small garden. I know that they are incredible creatures though so I though if I understood them better, I could apprecaite them more. So I read your blog. It’s pretty much beyond me, but I like the photos and I learn things too.
    I follow facebook too, but it seems to me to be so different, I can’t imagine it replacing the actual information I get from reading a blog. paz, Abby

    • Hi Abby – along with Anna, you are the type of person I hope to be reaching. I know I can get rather technical in my writing sometimes, but my goal is to make information on BitB accessible to lay people. If I don’t succeed in acheiving that goal (if I didn’t warn readers otherwise), please let me know.

      • vsvevg says:

        Thanks Ted, I will ask questions then. Glad you are enjoying your vaca, I liked the owl photo. I can not bring myself to go to a zoo. They just make me sad, even the nice ones. paz, Abby

  16. Terry says:

    How about this…. I have no numbers to support this, only my personal experience. Way back in time…. (about 2000) most blogging was pretty simple in content but not necessarily read by the numbers of people who are actively scanning the internet, today. I had a blog and it was pretty simple, mostly photos and html experiments. Then more people showed up and the REAL bloggers came forward. People who loved to write and read. There were awards for the best bloggers on the political and photography scene. AND the access to the newspapers was a phenomenal asset! Now, lots and lots of folks are on the net but, like the whole of the people on the planet, most people do not want to ‘invest’ time in reading heavy material on any subject. People like to scan and read a tid bit here and there…. which is why the newspaper people long ago said that the first paragraph of any story must contain everything – Who, What, When, Where, How, Why. So…. I think you should blog away and you will be found by special people who will love to read about your thoughts. Good internet friends.

    • Hi Terry – sounds like a pretty reasonable scenario. I’ve learned to embrace some shorter posts, but honestly I do love the narrative. Sometimes I get a little too narrative, but if I had fun writing it then no harm I guess.

  17. farlist says:

    I share the similar belief that social media sites weed out who uses blogs rather than kills them. Any serious writer would not wish to use Facebook for their writings as in the agreement for using Facebook you give up ownership of anything you post to Facebook. I think what Bug Girl is saying is accurate. People don’t have time to read thousands of long winded posts, so they will rely on others to do it for them.

    • Agreed. There is a risk in letting others read for you in that you will get fed sensational or topic-of-the-day information. If that’s what you want then great, but there will be a lot of good material that never sees the light of day. FB and G+ promote this kind of information bias with their system of Likes and Pluses.

  18. Mule Springs says:

    I blog and use Facebook, and I have much more quality and interesting interaction from my blog readers. If you write well and you have something to write about that people want to read about, then I believe blogging will still have readers and writers.

    Creating works that are 500 to 2000 words (at most). Posting roughly once a week keeps readers interested in the ongoing story. Posting too often is overwhelming to readers who are already maxed out with available information.

    This blog is one of my two most favorite blogs on the web–because the writer makes a specialized subject terribly interesting for the common, non-specialist reader (like me). Several weeks ago a friend in Prague was asking me about starting a blog, and I shared this blog as an example, because she wants to write interesting articles about education (specialized) to the general reader.

    I think if you get a following and your posts retain their high quality, you can keep readers and you can keep the enthusiasm you need to continue blogging.

    Blogging fills a special niche , I think, That can’t be filled with sites such as Facebook.

    I savor and am educated and entertained by the posts here; I hope they continue.

    Sher at Mule Springs Farm

    • Well, if nothing else your comments make me feel extraordinarily good about myself – thanks!

      That said, you might be the rare bird, although you are exactly the type of reader that I’m looking for. Please stick around, and I hope others like you do as well.

  19. I think your opinion of whether blogging remains a relevant and vibrant form of communication depends on whether you think that blogging is a social endeavor or a means of communicating information to the world. I for one want to make people more aware of the issues that insects (especially aquatic insects) face, the fact that insects/aquatics exist are all around us all the time, and that insects are interesting and valuable organisms that belong in the world. I don’t mind that I don’t get a ton of comments because blogging isn’t a social experience for me. Don’t get me wrong – it’s very nice to have that extra little bit of proof that people are actually reading and the interaction with your readers is a perk of being a blogger, but that’s not the goal of blogging for me. I want my blog to be a source of public information. I don’t mind if people don’t want to read the things I write – I blog as much for my own personal growth as a writer and an educator and a passionate entomologist as I do for the readers. Not everyone will have the patience to read the things I write anyway. But that’s okay! We’re all different. And just think – YOUR blog (I’m talking BitB here) is one of the only places IN THE WORLD that the average non-scientist can go to learn about some of the things that you talk about. Scientific information is not readily available in the public realm and if we, as bloggers and scientists, don’t share what we know, how else are people supposed to learn the things we know, come to value the same things that we do? I personally don’t consider blogging just another social networking tool, but a tool for disseminating knowledge and getting people excited about knowledge. That means that I still consider blogging to be an important tool – and one that remains relevant even in the face of Google +, Facebook, and other true social networking sites. But that’s just me. Other people will have different opinions. And that’s all good too.

    • Re: your first sentence – I guess I’m thinking it should be both, but maybe I’m being too greedy. Absolutely, I want BitB to be a resource for high-quality information. I guess I do have to admit, however, that I rather enjoy the ensuing commentary as much as writing the material to begin with. I’ll still write even if I don’t get the latter, because writing is what I enjoy more than anything (at least anything that is not directly related to searching for insects in the field).

      However, your comment about blogging as a tool for disseminating knowledge and getting people excited about knowledge was a reality check for me – yes, that’s what it’s really about, and thanks for pointing that out to me!

  20. gergrd says:

    I sure hope that good blogs like yours don’t disappear, I learn a lot and get inspired by your posts and those of your blogging colleagues. I just don’t get or like Facebook. I don’t recall ever getting any insightful information from Facebook, only pleasantries with friends and sales pitches from corporations. I find Facebook to be insidious. I do like Google+, it feels like something different to me – maybe a replacement for Flickr without the mutual admiration society feel. Anyway, I do appreciate your blog – keep up the good work!

  21. Martha says:

    First – ditto to dragonflywoman’s comments.
    And, I read or skim several blogs that I enjoy. I know a blogger who stopped blogging to write for print media, and the death of print media was predicted a decade ago.
    Social media sites are for quips rather than lengthy, informative pieces like yours.
    Terry has a good point, too: blogs are for people who enjoy reading and writing.
    We sort ourselves out – FB for quips, blogs for learning, etc.

    • The sheer number of comments here about this issue has convinced me that maybe I’m reaching more people than I thought. Thanks for you insight (and maybe someday I’ll actually go to print media also).

  22. James C. Trager says:

    Your last comment says what I was just thinking, Ted.

    Long live BitB!

    iViva “Escarbajos en el Bosque”!

  23. Once upon a time we learned html so we could have a webpage listing our favorite links to friends’ or interesting sites. Nothing loaded very quickly as we were all on dial-up modems. Then we started using our webpages to expound on the stuff we knew about. About then I was doing a geocities personal webpage on a topic of European history; these disappeared when yahoo bought it and let it founder (business websites were so much more lucrative). This was when we assumed all high-school kids should be able to set up a free basic functional webpage/site in twelve minutes or less. Then myspace happened and everyone got lazy….the rest of the social media sites showed up, smartphones allowed us to update these and photo galleries and our blogs at the touch of a button, I guess. I wouldn’t know – I have no cool phone and still write html with notepad in text.

    Our sharing online is evolving……and ‘m feeling a little neo-luddite. In a different way than when I waited fifteen years to buy my first microwave oven. What really neat thing will show up next?

    —Dorian
    who maintains http://qc_inps.home.mchsi.com/

    • Hi Dorian – sage perceptions from a long-timer. I too fear appearing as a neo-luddite, generally welcoming new technology. But this just doesn’t seem like an improvement. (And I am aware of the irony of such a statement when talking about blogs and social media – my dad is still trying to figure out how to record on his VCR!).

  24. To me, Facebook and Twitter are questions and answers tossed at me as I run down the hall on my way to class, overheard snippets of subway conversations that I can drift in and out of as they fade from intriguing to tedious. Blogs are a conversation. While it may be a sad truth that “conversation” is going the way of [fill in your favorite obsolete gadget], I intend to fight to the bitter end for my right to sit down with somebody interesting and trade stories and ramble on (preferably over real or virtual beer or coffee). As much as I need those quick updates and snippets to get the necessary bits of information, I still savour the one-on-one, even if it is virtual.

    I’m fairly new to blogging, and yes, maybe my posts wander on a tad from time to time, but if a few people a day stop by to sit in on the odd (virtual) conversation, I’ll keep doing it, and I’ll keep reading others. It’s a pleasant change from staccato responses to the daily email storm.

  25. ourowntime says:

    I’m the wrong person to ask. I prefer longer writing – and more careful writing – that gives some depth and personality. I’m on facebook but probably only check in every couple of months. Perhaps there is a place for both. For different people and different purposes. I just found your blog but I’ll most likely be following it for awhile. Thanks for writing.

    • Well I try not to write too excessively, but sometimes there’s just so much I want to say. Hopefully I satisfy well enough your “careful writing” standards.

      Thank you for stopping by and for your nice comments.

  26. Hudson says:

    I believe it is not dead, but it will diminish in the next few years, I feel that people are drawn to sites like FB because of the increasingly short attention span. I for one enjoy both and I think each has its place, the things I post on my blog would pretty much bore 98 percent of the people who would see it on my FB profile and vice versa. What you write could not be effective on facebook (unless you had an extremely large number of Bug enthusiasts) and blogs tend to have a much broader audience, I have visits everyday from people who I have never heard of from every country imaginable, wich for me on facebook would not be possible. Sorry about the long comment and I dont think I answered the question but oh well..

    • You answered just fine. If anything, seeing all the responses here to this question has made me decide to focus more on blogging and less on FB and G+ – at least for entomology outreach. Ultimately I find the lack of substantive interaction with those audiences rather ungratifying. If I had to answer the question why I do it, I’d be harder pressed to give an answer for those sites than I would for my blog.

      Adrian said it best – “This is my house. Visitors welcome.”

  27. Abrahm says:

    I don’t see blogging as dying either. One of my favorite internet discoveries of the past couple years was the vibrant entomology blogging community. I’m very into natural history and I seek out technical books to help me learn more. My first loves were amphibians, reptiles and birds, but all of these classes don’t seem to have much of an online presence in science blogging. There’s birders, herp pictures and other fluff pieces on a lot of natural history blogs, but very little of what I see at blogs like this one.

    I can’t see G+/Facebook/Twitter replace what is done in blogs like this. It’s a form of journalism that takes a special author and design that can’t be easily squeezed into the cookie cutter of those social media apps. Now I love the aforementioned social media as a way to clue me in to what’s happening. I can follow interesting people and get blurbs and tips on what I should be following. It was these sorts of sites that led me to find Beetles in the Bush, Myrmecos, Not Exactly Rocket Science and a lot of my other blogs.

    I guess the big thing is, I’m a lurker and a content consumer. I’m a scientist, but in a vastly different field, so I understand your postings but I don’t have anything meaningful to contribute. I follow all my blogs via Google’s Reader. It’s the most efficient way for me to read a wide list of blogs (I follow some 30+ blogs) and since I don’t comment (or if I do I feel stupid) it works perfectly for me.

    I’m sure there are others like me who read your blog (one of my two favorites in the entomology blogosphere) but don’t feel they can leave any cogent or insightful comments.

    • Hi Abrahm – I think I’m already convinced my initial outlook was overly pessimistic, although some of the concerns I voiced I think are still valid. There are a number of ways to interpret the initial question – will bloggers continue to blog, will readers continue to read, will bloggers and readers continue to interact, etc. I the answer to all three is ‘yes’ but in different degrees. Of course, most people who write do so because they need to get the words out – it depends less on whether they think anybody is there to read them. And surely readers will continue to check out blogs, but perhaps increasingly in the manner you do rather than actually visiting the blog. The real question – or at least the one I was getting at – is the last one. Your perspective is particularly informative, as it is a rare glimpse at someone who consumes but doesn’t use blogs for interaction. (I might add that, even though you think you have little to offer, your response to this post is among the most informed and articulate!) I’m not worried about those readers, as they chose not to interact to begin with. What I’m concerned with is the increasing number of people who used to interact but have stopped – this includes both content generators (bloggers) who now find themselves also having to keep up with FB and G+ and Twitter and content consumers who likewise face an exploding number of streams to keep track of. The new ways of following blogs (readers, etc.) themselves inhibit interaction because there is no easy way to leave comments without actually clicking into the site.

      Maybe what’s really going on is the grand consolidation – typical of any new industry, there are many many startups at first and eventually the most successful businesses (or bloggers) capture market share and less successful businesses (bloggers) find something else to do that maybe they’re better at. It’s a thought.

      I do appreciate hearing that you regard my blog highly, and knowing people are out there that think that way is extra motivation for me to continue (though I would do so anyway – I just have so much to say and gotta get it out!). Thanks for following along, and honestly I think you have more to contribute to the conversations here than you give yourself credit for.

      Woah – 60th comment on this post. There are only two other posts in BitB history that hit that mark (and, ironically, they are both about ants rather than beetles!)

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