So are blogs dead in 2018, or are they a viable part of the web?
To find out I decided to
exploit my friends reach out to my social networks to see what kind of blog activity they were currently up to. I only asked about reading blogs, not writing them, because those are two very different behaviors.
Overall, blog reading is still a going concern, at least among the people who respond to my social media queries.
Breaking it down: I fired off a Twitter poll, and the results were balanced:
So the leading consumption pattern was people reading individual blog posts, rather than following whole blogs. They also had to be pointed in the right direction, presumably via social media, email, friends, etc. I’m reminded of how music downloads shifted from albums to songs.
Now, I asked the same question on Facebook, and the results were fairly similar.
Do you read blogs?
A) Not at all. (4 picked this one)
B) I read some posts, if I’m directed to them. (31)
C) I read some regularly. (14)
D) Yes, through an RSS reader. (17)
Again, people read individual posts when nudged.
I launched the same poll on Google+ (thanks to George Station for nudging me there), and the results were a bit different:
Yes, the leading response was people using RSS readers. It might be that I have unusually geeky G+ fans, or that G+ weirdly attracts people who like the old web.
Over on LinkedIn, there were fewer responses, typically. They reflected the G+ poll. Out of six responses, one didn’t read blogs any longer, and was regretful. One read fewer blogs. Four still read blogs through RSS readers, and some of them are technology professionals. One of the latter was quite passionate:
Zach Chandler I still read blogs, and use an RSS reader (Feedly) regularly! I think FB/Twitter and other closed content networks are deleterious to the open web, and if we want to keep it open, we have to make information consumption choices that support that outcome.
What can we learn from this little experiment?
For one thing, I do terrible social science. The n here is pathetically small, and there’s nothing randomized about the population.
If there’s anything useful, it’s that blogging still lives. The anti-blog answers came in dead last across the platforms, even on famed blog-killer Facebook. Some people actually use RSS, while others pick individual item’s from the blogospheric buffet.
One interesting detail: Feedly was by far the most popular RSS reader. My choice, Digg’s Reader, was scarcely in play within this group. An Apple tool appeared once or twice.
So what does this tell us about how to proceed in the modern web?
Well, if some of us like reading blogs, perhaps it’s worth trying as a first step to RSSify as much of your world as you can. That doesn’t mean using RSS, necessarily, but adjusting things around you to follow that principle.
For example, we can shift our Facebook feed away from the oh-so-helpful “Top Stories” algorithm lineup to the “Most Recent” setting. If you haven’t done it, check the top left of your Facebook home page:
Second, keep following blogs you find useful. I’m not sure how people do that today without an RSS reader. Maybe it’s manually checking a site in a web browser, or relying on email subscriptions. Perhaps some use a dashboard within a blog platform, like LiveJournal or WordPress or Tumblr do. And please share some love. Write comments, encourage other people to read good stuff, and donate, if you can.
Third – use an RSS reader! Feedly apparently works for people, so give it a try if you haven’t. I prefer Digg’s Reader, mostly because I’m a text-y kind of person, and I also read a lot of feeds. Or try something else. Install your own, if you’re up for that. Whichever you pick, see if you can follow this blog there. Yeah, I’m repeating myself – because it’s right.