I’ll ingore the fact that up until today, I hadn’t posted in over a week, and jump right into the mini-firestorm that John Hawkins kicked off by declaring the death of the right-o-sphere. Read that, and the return fires from Jimmie Bise (and his unintentional prequel, which should have had my name on the subject instead of his), William Jacobson (who shouldn’t have to worry about his place in the pecking order), Ann Althouse, John Lilyea, the Lonely Conservative, Dan Riehl, and Gregory Flap Cole, and then follow along the winding, rambling road.
John Hawkins, who is one of the rare professional independent bloggers who blogs for a living, interprets the stagflation of blog traffic as the slow death of the right side of the blogosphere. Honestly, what we’re seeing is quite similar to the consolidation the left side has seen. Indeed, William Jacobson noted that in his piece.
How much of that is consolidation at the top, how much is just more voices out there, and how much of that is social media sucking the life out of everybody is up for grabs. Way back in the day, Charlie Sykes established the Rule of Five, saying that one couldn’t really follow more than 5 blogs very closely. While he was way off on the 5 number, especially with the advent of RSS feeds, there is a very-real limit to how many blogs one can follow. Trust me on this one; I can’t keep up with all 400+ feeds I try to.
Jimmie Bise bemoans the lack of linkage, and Dan Riehl extends that to the Beltway mentality. Yes, there is definitely a part of that (side note; I really should bring back The Morning Scramble). The problem for a new blogger is all the major national players have pretty much solidified their list of sources, even though there is a dearth of good state- and local-level bloggers (a couple I recommend are Badger Blogger and Freedom Eden here in Wisconsin, Blue Collar Muse in Tennessee, and Thurber’s Thoughts out of Ohio). You just have to keep on sending good stuff up the food chain, and at times that includes what Jimmie calls “light stalking” (personal tip; don’t stalk the opposite sex).
The biggest bombshell was the quote of “(G)et big or go home,” in response to the question of what to do about stagnation. If you’re going to try to make money at this, small ball isn’t going to cut it, and unless you’re truly gifted, it’s probably too late to do it independently. Indeed, John notes that the consolidation has already happened at the top.
Flap, Ann Althouse, the Lonely Conservative and Dan Riehl all vehemently disagree. Flap sees social media as an extension of the blogosphere, and noted that the Tea Party Movement has its roots in it. Indeed, he sees social media much like the blogosphere back in the beginning.
As far as social media goes, it’s impossible to do more than a character-limited conversation on Twitter, even though one can punch way above one’s weight class every so often. As for Facebook/Google+, while it is theoretically possible to duplicate long-form posts that people will link to (see Sarah Palin), it’s very kludgy.
Ann notes that all sorts of people manage to make the time to do what is essentially full-time work for free. I’ll counter that if one isn’t counting on the hits, it doesn’t need to be full-time work. Hell, that explains the gaps in the posting schedule. Of course, over the years, I somehow managed to get a semi-loyal base of readers, and despite me being even more introverted and self-depreciating than Jimmie, a few of them happen to be movers and shakers.
So, while blogging is changing, it certainly isn’t dying.