Last year I reviewed Scott Rosenberg's book Say Everything, which is a (very good) history of blogging. It's now coming out in paperback, and has a new postscript, which you can read in full at the book's website.
It's a sign of the Internet's speed of change that this book, less than a year after first publication, needs an update like that. But I think it's wise of Scott to write it, because he fits the latest "blogging is dead" topics in with older ones. The new supposed blog-killers are Twitter, Facebook, the Apple App Store, and so-called "content farms," where online articles are written specifically to generate search revenue, without any concern for whether anyone would want to read them.
He makes a reasonable argument that while these new platforms all affect blogging, none of them replace it. I've certainly noticed that in my own writing online. Short links and comments I might previously have posted on this blog tend to appear in my Twitter stream instead (though I'll occasionally collect some of the better ones here for posterity). I interact with a lot of people on Facebook, where we might previously have commented on one another's blogs or emailed each other.
Yet neither of those have stopped me from writing here almost every day. Often things I find out on Twitter and Facebook are what inspire a new blog entry, in fact.
The App Store? At first I had trouble imagining what it had to do with blogging at all. But then I realized that there are people in old-school publishing who like iPhone and iPad apps that once again charge discrete prices for written material—or, as Scott puts it, "a genie-bottling move that might allow them, once more, to package and sell media products the old way."
That has no impact on me whatsoever, and whatever effect it might have on blogs would be, perhaps, on those published by major media outlets that might turn their efforts to the App Store instead. I guess. Whatever.
As for content farms like the not-very-useful eHow, they're essentially another form of Internet pollution, like email and comment spam, splogs, and so on. We'll learn to work around them in time. Scott's take:
...there is little evidence that the material produced by the content farms holds any value outside of Google. These articles are good at generating click-throughs from search results. But, having clicked on the story's headline, is anyone ever happy to read the body?
It took me a long time to think of penmachine.com as a blog. I preferred to consider it a website, and blog software as an easy way to update it and maintain an archive. Indeed, that's what I highlighted about it in my very first post close to ten years ago. Whether blogging survives in the long run as something we call by that name is irrelevant. I'm more interesting in preserving interesting, useful writing online—and making whatever small contribution to it that I can.
From my perspective, good writing online doesn't seem to be going anywhere. There's more of it than ever.