Jeremiah Owyang writes that the golden age of blogging is over.
The reasons, in brief: many top blogs have sold out; staff turnover saw "star" voices slip off the radar; younger audiences like social networking more; and advertising revenue is increasingly hard to get at.
All the reasons given are true, but they're not reasons to believe that a golden age has passed. They're phenomena in their own right, each with its own story, and only the last presenting a barrier to entry for newcomers. Epochal change makes for an epic narrative, but all this adds up to a simpler truth: media is a tough game and you won't get far by copying what other people did years ago.
The first change Owyang notes is that many blogs expanded from a handful of editors to become large newsrooms. Though he acknowledges that they're no longer just blogs, he seems to assume that they've grown without vacating old ground. But how can they not? Institutional growth has consequences: bureaucracy, editorial friction, and all that corporate oversight. Fresh faces can take advantage of the opportunities, approaches and risks that the big guys grow out of.
"There are still plenty of people who love to write– not just share, Tweet and comment– for a living, and blogs are still the best platform for that. In many ways, professional blogging is just getting started. It's a time when new entrants are jumping into the field with bold, fresh ideas, standing on the shoulders of the blogging giants that came before, taking a second stab at reinventing the new media landscape."
The high turnover issue, Owyang's second, seems the reddest herring in his list. Blogging isn't a literary or journalistic movement associated with a generational voice. And besides, writers are flighty.
The final point, that the economics of the business are "entrenched", is true enough. But making money from writing has always been difficult, and vanishingly few ever made much of it blogging.
Media interest always tended toward entrepreneurs in the field, and this ignores the fact that the majority of bloggers are amateurs or freelancers working for others. No Golden Age could just be about a handful of successful businesspeople; blogging has minted a fair few millionaires, but as an industry, it equals a lunchtime fluctuation in News Corporation's share price. There's still plenty of opportunity to go around, from the ground up, for anyone interested.
There was never a golden age of blogging, just a golden age of mainstream interest in what it all meant. Don't worry about it; opportunity does not knock but once. You need obsession, a work ethic, and an uncommon voice. That's tough, but that's all. The rest is counting the hours, and we've all got plenty of those.
End of an Era: The Golden Age of Tech Blogging is Over [Web Strategist]
Golden Age of Tech Blogging Done? I Couldn't Disagree More [Sarah Lacy]