Where have all the bloggers gone?

McGehee is wondering that himself these days:

I was just over at a well-known blogosphere cenotaph and it’s left me reflecting on how many of my once-favored blogosphere haunts are either gone or no longer host the voices that originally drew me to them. Dodd’s Ipse Dixit went away too soon and he’s now just a single, rarely seen contributor to Outside the Beltway. Junkyard Blog has gone through at least two voices since Bryan Preston went to … Hot Air? Somewhere.

Bryan did go to Hot Air, and has since departed: last I heard, he was working for Laura Ingraham’s radio show.

Brent’s The Ville is long gone and Susanna’s Cut on the Bias has had occasional brief revivals but never stays lit up long enough for me to stumble on it before it’s gone dark again. Ricky West’s last blog post was almost a year ago.

And so on. I used to read a lot of those myself, in fact. And both McGehee and I spent a few bucks for the CD by Brent’s band.

But there’s always the question of how anyone remains interested in rattling off a thousand words a day, day after day, year after year. (Me, I do a lot of recycling.) The odds seem unfavorable:

According to a 2008 survey by Technorati, which runs a search engine for blogs, only 7.4 million out of the 133 million blogs the company tracks had been updated in the past 120 days. That translates to 95 percent of blogs being essentially abandoned, left to lie fallow on the Web, where they become public remnants of a dream — or at least an ambition — unfulfilled.

Maybe that explains why I’m still here: I had neither dream nor ambition when I uploaded that first page in the spring of ’96. I did, however, have free time and free space. Now the space costs me money, though less than it used to, and the time seems to be growing shorter, which leaves me one reason to keep on going: all these years, I’ve cracked wise about spinning out an “unauthorized autobiography,” and now I have this overwhelming desire to see whether it ends well.

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14 comments

  1. Adam »

    16 July 2009 · 11:25 am

    This reminds me of the study on iPhone app usage.

    Part of what makes blogging so attractive is the low barriers to entry; it costs nearly nothing and takes only a few minutes to start a blog. So a ton of people can start one half-heartedly and ditch it just as quickly; the fact that a tiny minority of blogs comprise a huge majority of those that continued to blog over time isn’t surprising. It’s to be expected, in my opinion.

  2. Jacqueline »

    16 July 2009 · 11:33 am

    I most just tweet instead now.

  3. McGehee »

    16 July 2009 · 12:31 pm

    And I see that Brent’s band’s website domain is no longer theirs, nor the one they got after that — according to the Canadian band that now owns TSGmusic.com.

    the fact that a tiny minority of blogs comprise a huge majority of those that continued to blog over time isn’t surprising. It’s to be expected, in my opinion.

    True enough. I for one wasn’t remarking so much on the fact they’ve stopped, as that I miss them. And I’ve long since gathered, in part due to the popularity of group blogs, that I got into reading blogs for reasons not shared by most.

  4. Closet Atheist »

    16 July 2009 · 12:57 pm

    I’ve cracked wise about spinning out an “unauthorized autobiography,” and now I have this overwhelming desire to see whether it ends well.

    The protagonist dies. His family mourns his passes. The regular readers sadly move on, remembering the wordsmith that used to lighten their days. And of course some spammer puts up an ad about ‘male enhancement’.

  5. Lisa Paul »

    16 July 2009 · 1:23 pm

    Closet Atheist. Bring-down.

    How about Blogger becomes famous with book deal and reality show. Chaz Action Figures released. Seven women file paternity suits. (Against Chaz, not the Action Figures.)

  6. fillyjonk »

    16 July 2009 · 1:32 pm

    I like the idea of an “unauthorized autobiography” (though not the Closest Atheist’s proposed ending of such).

    A lot of the craftbloggers I used to read have closed up shop. Some because they got book deals and realized it was preferable to write for money than to write for free. Or they graduated from college and had to get a “real” job. Or they got married. Or they had kids. Or something. I think some of the blog-attrition may be changes in life circumstances.

    I think some people just got bored with it when something else became the hot fad. (Me? I’ve always been behind the times, so I try not to get too excited about fads).

    Besides, my life-circumstances are fundamentally pretty lonely a lot of the time (as regards having people to talk to), so I try to comfort myself by talking to Invisible Internet Friends and imagining that they are listening to me.

  7. CGHill »

    16 July 2009 · 2:01 pm

    Dear Dr. Axton: I need eight copies of my vasectomy record.

  8. blythe »

    16 July 2009 · 2:07 pm

    must be the economy

  9. Adam »

    16 July 2009 · 2:08 pm

    McGehee,

    Fair enough. That’s definitely been one of the frustrations of the web from the beginning; before blogs were even around I was being disappointed by stories and webcomics that were dropped before they were finished. I guess that’s the risk with anything that people are doing for the enjoyment of it rather than for a living…

  10. Lisa Paul »

    16 July 2009 · 3:25 pm

    Is that Dr. Hoyt Axton? Cause he’d be just what the doctor ordered.

  11. Francis W. Porretto »

    16 July 2009 · 4:20 pm

    He who likes to write for its own sake will write till his fingers fall off, or until they’re caught under a window sash by an enraged husband.

    The rest will follow the Nielsens, or whatever the Blogospheric equivalent might be.

    “Keep thine eye upon the doughnut, lest thou miss it and pass all unknowing through the hole.” — Your Curmudgeon

  12. Dick Stanley »

    17 July 2009 · 12:33 am

    It can be a grind, especially when so few seem to care. But, what the hell, it’s a hobby.

  13. CT »

    17 July 2009 · 12:36 pm

    I foresee a time 20-30 years from now, when the whole Internet is passe (supplanted by telepathic globe-meld, duh), and the final half-dozen remaining bloggers are regarded as ham-radio kooks…

  14. McGehee »

    18 July 2009 · 7:24 am

    CT, you may be onto something. Maybe things will pick up when we start getting sunspot activity again.

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