Thursday, February 23, 2006

Whither blogging

The Financial Times Magazine, London, has carried a well-written and comprehensive article by Trevor Butterworth, a writer based in Washington DC, on blogging. It discusses how the nascent medium has grown, where it stands vis-à-vis conventional journalism, and the economics of the medium. A unique thing the magazine did was it opened a blog to where readers could post their comments on the article.

Some salient points of the article:

** Even in the US, the blogosphere’s superpower, most internet users -- 62 per cent according to a survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project -- aren’t exactly sure what a blog is.

** At the close of 2002, there were some 15,000 blogs. By 2005, 56 new blogs were starting every minute. As I type this sentence, there are, according to, 27.2 million blogs. By the time you read this sentence, there surely will be many more.

** One of the conventions that happened to work in blogging’s favour was the way the media take a new trend and describes it as a revolution.

** That established journalists were blogging gave the revolution a dose of credibility that it might not have had if it were in the hands of true outsiders. And then, just before the presidential election in 2004, blogging had its Battleship Potemkin moment, when swarms of partisan bloggers rose up to sink CBS’s iron-jawed leviathan Dan Rather for peddling supposedly fake memos about Bush’s national guard service.

** Isn’t the problem of the media right now that we barely have time to read a newspaper, let alone traverse the thoughts of a million bloggers?

** Some experiments have gone awry. When the Los Angeles Times decided to try letting readers insert their own ideas into its editorials online last year, the trial ended within days after obscene pictures were posted on its site.

** Blogging will no doubt always have a place as an underground medium in closed societies; but for those in the west trying to blog their way into viable businesses, the economics are daunting.

** If the pornography of opinion doesn’t leave you longing for an eroticism of fact, the vast wasteland of verbiage produced by the relentless nature of blogging is the single greatest impediment to its seriousness as a medium.

** “Mere potboiling,” wrote Engels of the more than 500 articles he and Marx wrote for The New York Daily Tribune, “It doesn’t matter if they are never read again.”
And that, in the end, is the dismal fate of blogging: it renders the word even more evanescent than journalism; yoked, as bloggers are, to the unending cycle of news and the need to post four or five times a day, five days a week, 50 weeks of the year, blogging is the closest literary culture has come to instant obsolescence.

A wonderful article. Go ahead and read it here.


  1. And just as that TOI article had noted sometime back, blogging is also a form of therapy.. To me, it really is!!

    Blogging helps me learn more about myself... :)

  2. ** Kishore, blog is one the most revolutionary and pathbreaking turns mass communication has taken in entire human history.

  3. Interesting stats. From this it is doubtful the full time commercial blogging as a profession shall ever take off.