The Case of the Incredible Shrinking Blogosphere

Three Reasons Why Micro-media Sites Mirror a Cultural Shift

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Bloggers and the media have some common ground: Both like to incessantly navel gaze.

Recently, the conversation has focused on the rising popularity of micro-blogging platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Jaiku and the invite-only Pownce. All of these enable people to broadcast brief bursts of text (usually around 150 characters) to their circle of friends via the web or a mobile device. It's akin to ye olde telegram. Dave Winer, one of the blogosphere's founding fathers, took it a step further by creating Twittergram -- a service that pumps 30-second MP3s into Twitter via a special dial-in line.
Steve Rubel
Photo: JC Bourcart
Steve Rubel is a marketing strategist and blogger. He is senior VP in Edelman's Me2Revolution practice.

Some have chalked up the micro-blogging boom to what a friend of mine calls "shiny object syndrome" -- our fascination with all things new. However, I believe that the rise of these emerging micro-media sites mirrors three significant cultural shifts.

First, there's the Attention Crash. The demands on our time -- be they work, family, passions -- are growing. Brevity rules.

Second, there's the proliferation of mobile devices, which, through text messaging, encourage people to publish more often but in a far shorter format.

Last but not least we have social networking, which makes it easier for us to tune into "signals," i.e., people and topics we care about, and block out noise. Content you truly care about finds you.

So what does this all mean for blogging? Blogs certainly remain extremely powerful, and I don't expect them to go away. Still, blogging is hard. It takes a lot of work to put out high-quality content. I know. I did so every single day for three years, including weekends and holidays. However, recently I have been blogging far less often and filling in the gap with daily bursts on Twitter. When I do blog, I use it to go into more depth than I used to and expand on ideas I've formed through conversations on Twitter. I am not alone.

If Web 2.0 is like golf, then a blog is a nine iron, while a micro-blog is a putter. It's all still golf, but bloggers are starting to mix it up, and the course is changing. Therefore, marketers need to adapt. More on that in my next column.
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