There’s no question I don’t blog much anymore, and it’s because Twitter has been a better megaphone for my thoughts than blogging is. Every once in a while I’ll think “I need more than 140 characters to convey this thought effectively,” but then I just end up not tweeting it rather than blogging it.

About two years ago I first conveyed this shift in direction in a comment on Zeldman’s post on the vanishing personal site. Last month a journalist for the Christian Science Monitor found that quote and my dying blogs and e-mailed me asking if I could elaborate further on my comment. The result of that e-mail conversation became about 1/3 of his article on whether blogging has peaked.

Since a few people have been asking me to elaborate on my comments (and more than a few have been asking me when I’m going to blog about the article) I thought I’d post my full response to his questions. (The nice thing about Mr. Shaer is he did a great job distilling my long rambles without losing the meaning of what I was trying to say. Seriously, you young ink-stained wretches, take a lesson from him.)

My suspicion is that blogging, of the personal and long-form variety, is down across the board – and that it will continue to decline in popularity in coming months. Do you agree?

I don’t think blogging is dying. I think it’s maturing.

In the early days of blogging it was a way for people to share links, post small thoughts (like a journal), interact with their community through comments, and every once in a while turn out a 2000 word post. Facebook has taken over most of these functions — sharing links, posting small thoughts (as status messages), and interacting with your community. Twitter also usurped the same roles from blogs, albeit on a smaller and more agile platform. But the one thing Facebook and Twitter has not been able to do effectively is long-form writing. That’s still the purview of blogs.

And honestly, I think that’s what blogs are for. Sharing small pieces of data like links over blogs was like owning a heavy-duty pickup that you only used to pick up bread and milk at the grocery store. Blogs are meant for people for whom being a writer, being a creator, is a passion, or perhaps a requirement of life. They’re meant for people for whom Facebook’s “What’s on your mind?” question can’t always be answered in 500 characters or less.

Blogging will become a tool more for writers, I believe. Facebook, Twitter, and their successors are going to be the glue that holds online communities together, but they’ll still be linking to blogs. (Can you remember the last time you saw a Facebook post or a tweet sharing a link to a Facebook note?)

Would you tell me a bit about your decision to shutter your blog? Was it a lack of time? Was it the format itself? Something else entirely?

Shuttering my blog… I shuttered one blog (clientandserver.com) because I was going to fold it into my personal site (dylanwilbanks.com) for personal branding purposes. Between work, home, and projects, I just haven’t had the time to really sit down and complete the integration. Meanwhile, I just haven’t sat down and written anything.

But I also think my writing has shifted. Twitter (dylanw) has taken up a lot of my focus. Unlike most people I know, I like the 140 character limit. It forces me to keep my thoughts short, to the point, and pithy. Meanwhile, with the time constraints on my life I struggle to sit down and churn out 1000 words to discuss something that needs 1000 words to discuss. (But here’s the strange part — I can do that all the time with blog comments and MetaFilter posts. So responding to someone’s idea doesn’t seem to be the issue.) Twitter and Facebook let
me share small thoughts with my community, and right now all I can manage is small thoughts.

I want to post to my blog more. In fact, I was planning on taking the Project52 challenge (http://project52.info/) to force myself to start blogging again, at least once a week. Six weeks in, no posts.

I don’t think the problem is the format. I think the problem is getting off the couch. (And now that you’re asking about it, maybe I will try to get something posted. 🙂 )

My wife, in contrast, feels like Twitter is stifling; she has two blogs she regularly posts to. (Her reasoning is she’s an unpublished author who needs to be on the web where her writing can be Googled. Still, she’s posting to her blog because she enjoys writing, not because it’s a required chore of trying to get a book sold.)

Do you know other folks who have given up on blogging for, say, Twitter?

I know a few people who have shifted to Twitter and away from blogs, but most of them still use their blogs for the long-form writing they can’t do on Twitter; they haven’t outright “abandoned” their blog as much as dropped from a few posts a week (or day) to a few posts a year. (I can get you names if you’d like.) I’ve heard of a few people abandoning their blog for Facebook, but I can’t think of anyone off-hand. The reasoning there is that Facebook provides them with the privacy a public blog doesn’t have.