Saturday, May 12, 2007

Silicon Valley Blog: Are Leading Bloggers Getting Blog Fatigue?

Of late, I've seen signs of fatigue from a number of high-profile bloggers who are taking blog vacations, begging for guest bloggers to take their normal place, or in some cases, the bloggers are choosing to keep us updated in other ways - preferring Twitter or other venues.


I read both Scoble and Calacanis (who doesn't post with nearly the frequency of Scoble) and I'm not too dismayed, or surprised by their throttling back a bit.

We live in an era of specialization and I think blogs are finally settling down out of the "gee-whiz blogs are going to replace everything" mode, into something more realistic.

The kinds of blogs that are going to survive as a money making engine are those produced by specialists who draw readers interested in that particular thing. As has been mentioned, that thing was Microsoft in Scoble's case, and in Calacanis's case that thing was... well, "How I got rich off of AOL".

Now they are both journalism school graduates I think, and as such, if any good at that profession they should both be able to hold an audience. But do most mainstream journalists write 5-10 articles a day plus handled all the reader feedback on those articles? I don't think so.

Journalism has never been a really high paying profession except for those few who hit the big time by working for either one of the larger papers or TV networks, or who write repeatably best selling books.

Now blogging COULD change that dynamic a bit, but I don't think the entire news-gathering industry is going to be replaced by blogging. Rather blogging will augment those other things.

Look at David Pogue of the New York Times. Successful book author and columnist. Now he also blogs, and does regular podcasts. Everything he does points to everything else. I never actually read his NYT column in fact until I started reading his blog, and then from that I subscribed to e-mails from the NYT to save having to check the blog which isn't even daily, and then I subscribed to the podcasts because I found them more entertaining than the writing alone, and his writing, is really aimed at novices and as such, for a true geek, more entertaining than informative. Great work by Pogue and the New York Times in building a "brand", whatever it is though.

That I think is going to be the formula for MOST people to succeed as journalists. You have to be comfortable with all, or at least most of the media formats out there. It still helps to be photogenic and have a good speaking voice, even if you can write very very well.

Now for people who thought they were going to start making a living writing a blog, reality is going to set in, or already has. I guaranty you if there are people making six-figures by only writing a blog in their PJs every morning, they aren't going to get tired of it (or if they do I want to apply for their job!).

I track a few hundred feeds via Google reader. Only now that it is keeping statistics on me, I'm noticing some that I don't actually read all of them that closely. Soon I'm going to whittle that list down a lot and I bet others are doing the same. The RSS feed may serve as the meat in my reading list every day, but that will probably get augmented by searches (some automated into my Google Homepage) that are subject based and don't lend themselves to a particular feed. I think the feed reader technology has helped many people zero in on what their daily list looks like, and that is probably making the long tail even longer than before.

For those of us who have always blogged (or done other creative writing) just because we enjoyed it (and not to make a living) nothing is going to change. But for those who had higher aspirations, I can see how "fatigue" would be a good way to describe what they are going through. If the blog is keeping such people away from some other activity that actually earns them a living, or if it is keeping them away from a normal social life (assuming they want one) then the adjustments are probably well overdue.

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