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Wednesday, April 17, 2002

The Future of Blogging- Sgt. Stryker has appearantly given up blogging for the time being, going out on a bitter note. He had this take on the future of blogging.
Blogging's a flash in the pan. The better writers will get hired by traditional sources to write on the web or in print. More and more journalists will start up "blogs", and soon everyone else will hop on the bandwagon. Those blogs will be bland because they will want to have broad appeal. Most everyone else around right now will soon get bored, get jobs or get jiggy doing something else.
I'm in the mood to do a classic deconstruction of this bad-boy paragraph.
Blogging's a flash in the pan.
A lot of the triumphalist rhetoric about how blogging will change the news industry's overblown, as is any coverage of the "next big thing." However, there is a market/desire for people to express their opinions in their own one-man op-ed page. There's also a modest market for people wanting to read these on-line commentary journals known as blogs. My hit numbers are going up slowly, about 2-3% a week as more people find me. If they start to level off and recede, then I'll buy into the Sarge's thesis. In the meantime, I expect the blog to gradually seep into the news culture. There's a limited audience for political and cultural commentary, but it is a important one. Sunday Talking Heads don't get a big viewership, but it is the political activists and junkies that watch and then inform the unwashed masses. There might only be one person in an office complex that's hanging out in Blogistan, but he'll be bringing our insights to the water cooler with him.
The better writers will get hired by traditional sources to write on the web or in print.
Many of the big-name bloggers are better-described as free-lance pundits. Virginia Postrel, Mickey Kaus and Andrew Sullivan were noted writers before going solo, and still keep free-lancing for other outlets. The bridge from the "MyName.com" professional journalist's site to the "love of the game" blogs like mine are the semi-pros, like Glenn Reynolds (he's almost up in that first class), James Miller and Ben Domenech, who have a day job (or day schooling) and write occasional paying columns. I've yet to see a writer who wasn't a free-lancer pre-blog to start a writing career, but I think we'll start to see it in the months to come.
More and more journalists will start up "blogs", and soon everyone else will hop on the bandwagon.
Only if they have something to say. Not all reporters are witty and insightful enough to want to start a blog. In addition, an opinionated blog might make a reporter's job harder, since his biases will be on the table for all to see. Some columnists might start up blogs to give them avenues to vent that don't quite fit their standard column. James Lileks is a great example-he has a day job as a newspaper columnist, but has his own web site on historical pop culture and keeps his Bleat there as well. John Ellis is a pro writer that keeps a blog to talk politics and golf outside his business journalism milieu. We'll see more of those If I may go back to the analogy that the blog is a one-person op-ed page, not everyone writes letters to the editor. In a smaller-town paper, you tend to see the same "cranks" on a monthly basis venting. You're looking at a small number of people with the desire and ability to write well and the knowledge base to make a blog interesting.
Those blogs will be bland because they will want to have broad appeal. Most everyone else around right now will soon get bored, get jobs or get jiggy doing something else.
An in-house blog could very well be boring, but there could be keepers as well. Bob Talbert's daily dead-tree column in the Detroit Free Press (he died three years ago) was a proto-blog, especially his Monday Moanin' session, where he rattled off a couple dozen short takes on whatever was on his mind at the time. He'd be a-bloggin' if he were with us. NRO's The Corner is a good in-house blog. ABC's The Note is another good political summary page/pseudoblog. Good amateur blogs will stay in place as long as Blogger or some other low-cost HTML-For-Dummies outlet is there to help. The boring ones will be ignored. Some bloggers will fall away, as the Sarge is apparently doing, but others will step in. Jobs, spouses and other "distractions" will reduce blog time, but other people will find greater free time to blog. I may have more time to blog as a college professor. My listed office hours will likely be my blogging time, as I can't count on prepping for classes in the time I'm expecting students. If they're not there, I'll likely be surfing and blogging.
Blogs as we know them will probably morph into something else and people will look back on these things like they do the old 'zines.
I think there will continue to be idiosyncratic political and cultural commentary on the Web. Blogs are simply an easy way to make your own commentary web site without being a geek (although being a geek helps). I don't see it becoming a major cultural phenomena, but I think it, or something very much like it, will be around for a while. We may not be calling these commentary sites blogs in 2020, but they will be around in some form.

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