I began this blog in August 2003, and I'm finishing it here in August 2012.
I'm not going to write a solemn or sonorous post because I've not given up yet: I put time and energy into Behind the Spin and have to tend a course blog and a class blog too. Lazy PR people and SEO spammers will continue to hound me for months to come, so the topic of this post needs to be crystal clear.
It's farewell to Typepad - and to PR Studies for now. You see, my rule with social media is that it should make life simpler, not more complex. Something has to give and I'm making a start here.
It's a minor and meaningless achievement, but one I'd been edging close to for some time.
I've just achieved average daily page views of 100 over the seven year life of this blog.
The absolute numbers are small - and unimportant to me - but the average is pleasing and the movement is still in the right direction.
There may be some lessons here for newcomers in building a presence despite infrequent posting, so here's my analysis:
I know. There's already something quaint about the word, and 'weblogs' looks archaic now.
Besides, it's hard to define something that runs from Twitter updates (microblogs) via Tumbr and WordPress to fully-fledged content management systems. How can you compare a student's blog with the Huffington Post (sold for $315m)?
So how do I read frequently-updated webpages created by PR students and practitioners? Here are some personal tips:
On the face of it, there's nothing special about a Sunday. It's just another shopping day; just another day of professional sport.
Sunday is a religious holiday for just one of the world's three great monotheistic religions - and in this part of the world only a minority attend church regularly.
Yet a Sunday is still valuable as a punctuation mark in a busy, monotonous week. It's a pause; a semi-colon (like that).
When PR people were primarily media relations advisers, the better practitioners knew the value of announcing news on a Sunday. The 'Sunday-for-Monday' story was well-established practice, since Monday's newspapers are being produced from quiet newsrooms today and there's less competition for space in a Monday paper.
Something similar is going on in the blogosphere. It's a quiet day, so a good time to get noticed (or to get ahead of the pack by preparing for the week ahead).
Here are three blog posts I've noticed today. What's more, they're all reflections on milestones in life from three different ages of man (and woman). Leading with the youngest first:
(I've not met any of these three, but feel I'm getting to know them through social media).
Remember the 90-9-1 rule?
This suggests that in a group of people, the overwhelming majority (90%) will be 'lurkers' - happy to visit blogs etc, but unwilling to participate actively.
Only 9% will even participate to the extent of leaving a blog comment, while a select 1% are the active content creators.
Despite the low barriers to entry and in spite of the growth of social networking sites built on user-generated content, these figures still seem broadly right.
But might they be too high? Are there really 9 commenters to every blogger?
My 862 posts on this blog to date have encouraged 1414 comments - that's fewer than two comments for each blog post.
For new bloggers, the situation is even worse - and it can be discouraging. Who wants to be that person on the street shouting at the passing traffic with people hurrying by and avoiding eye contact?
So here's what I've been doing over the past few weeks. I've only posted once a week to this blog (but more frequently to other group blogs I run). But I have been trying to leave encouraging comments on new student blogs I've discovered (the list down on the right sidebar has some new additions and my RSS feed has several more I'm following).
But even then I doubt I've managed a 1:9 ratio. But it's probably a good target to aim at. Why not make some other people happy today by spreading some seasonal cheer? Who knows, you may get some return visits (and even some comments) by doing so.
After the peak of expectation in 2003-2005 came the trough of disillusion as first Facebook and then Twitter became the place for short status updates and community conversations.
Yet blogging survived, and in some areas is even seeing a revival.
Here are five reasons for blogging's surprising survival:
Technorati's annual report is available here. What's happening to blogging now the chatter's all on Twitter and the buzz is on social networks?
We tend to be eduated, male, middle aged and affluent. Then there's the rise of the professional blogger, though in the past year Steve Rubel has defected from blogging to 'lifestreaming'. As he explains:
'Lifestreaming to date has meant aggregating all of one's streams at a single point. This was the value of Friendfeed. However, it's evolving to mean using a hub as a launching point for your content, syndicating it out to your "spokes" (eg the social networks where one chooses to engage) and then conversing about it in both locations.'
A high court judge has ruled that "blogging is essentially a public rather than a private activity", so unmasking an anonymous police officer who had previously won a literary award for the Nightjack blog (no longer available.) The news is reported widely; I've chosen to link to the FT's dispassionate account.
Libertarians are incensed. Here's their case: whistleblowers have an important role to play in a free society, exposing hypocrisy and wrong-doing. Without the cloak of anonymity, most would remain silent and our society could suffer as a result. Their case is even stronger in a totalitarian state: if speaking out would expose you to repression at the hands of those in power, then anonymous protest is the only viable route for most people. Essentially, this is an appealing argument in favour of free speech.
Ironically, this blogger was exposed following investigative work by The Times newspaper. Free speech for the newspaper has resulted in no expression for the blogger (and a warning from his employer).
Let's call the counter-argument the corporate perspective. This argues that employees have a contractual and professional responsibility to act in the best interests of the employer by, for example, not revealing confidential information. People dealing with matters considered to be of national security are governed by the Official Secrets Act; and most professionals and politicians struggle when personal conscience clashes with collective responsibility.
These questions have always existed. What's new is the ease in which personal publishing (blogging) can move from the private into the public sphere. What starts as a personal diary can end up being viewed as mass media. What lessons do we learn from this?
It's ages since the year of the blog. Since then, Facebook has gained ground as a social network; YouTube has the appeal of moving images; and Twitter has all the buzz and is making headlines.
So why am I so happy that blogs are boring?
Information overload is a problem, so fewer and more substantial posts are welcome Blogs are containers for words, but you can also put photos, videos, podcasts, news feeds, Twitter and Facebook updates into the container
Information overload is a problem, so fewer and more substantial posts are welcome
Blogs are containers for words, but you can also put photos, videos, podcasts, news feeds, Twitter and Facebook updates into the container