A couple of days ago I published a piece expressing my concern about the health of the decentralized blog culture in the lights of the rapid rise of the centralized publishing platform Medium.
I do not want to make blogs and blogging a too frequent topic on this site. But a couple of subsequent thoughts inspired me to follow up on my first text with a more optimistic perspective.
What initiated these thoughts was this blog post by the well-known developer Marco Arment. His text dealt with Podcast listening behaviour. But while I read the following paragraph, I had an epiphany:
“Most podcasts are produced by hobbyists and audio amateurs, effectively none of whom are editing for hours to craft precisely paced stories, and that’s fine, because the best thing about podcasting is that not everything is a big production. Not everything is a professional radio show. Instead, we have a rich breadth of voices and niche subjects, free and on demand, that makes the medium infinitely better than broadcast radio could ever be.”
Podcasting is the new blogging
Yes, exactly: Without the references to audio and radio, this might as well be a description of the nature of blogs. And that made me realize: The incredible podcasting trend that we are currently witnessing is, to some extend, the continuation of blogging, just in a different form, optimized for the mobile on-the-go-crowd.
Personally I subscribe to a bunch of blogs whose creators have increasingly moved from written text to audio. As a passionate reader with only limited time for podcast consumption I am not too happy about that, but this is life.
Curation is the new blogging
And shortly after, it hit me again: While some bloggers fully or partly have become podcasters, others are turning into curators who do not produce new content but who focus on scanning, selecting and repackaging existing content. This might be my observation selection bias speaking since I recently joined a curation startup myself (check out Niuws if you are in D-A-CH), but my impression is an increasing demand for and supply of human-selected content. The successful launch of This.cm can be seen as an indicator for this hypothesis as well as the existence of a new service named RefreshBox, which combines the concepts of curation and newsletters. Many bloggers publish regular lists with curated selections of recommended content (among my favourites are Om Malik, Johannes Kleske and Chris Guillebeau, to name a few). Others curate via email newsletters or built actual apps. Curation itself is nothing new and has been happening on Twitter and other platforms for many years. But I see signs that more creators have shifted their attention from writing content to curating content lately. Considering the huge quantities of great reading stuff that are published every day somewhere on the web, I think this is a good development.
To complete the headline of this article: The future of blogging is a more varied, device- and use-case-optimized approach to individual content creation and distribution. While traditional blogging possibly becomes more centralized and less desirable for some, the evolution and transformation of the “blogging ideology” with its new formats, new channels and new use cases leads to a new type of decentralization. Maybe there is no reason to worry after all.