In an age when online dialogue lasts no more than 140 characters, some have pondered just how relevant the business of blogging remains.Those running one of the world’s most popular blogging platforms argue that this very personal way to share, sound off and express oneself has a healthy future ahead if the numbers are any guide. With a decade under its belt, Blogger boasts more than 300 million active readers and enough words to fill about 3.2 million novels. That equates to 270,000 words a minute or 388 million a day on Blogger.
“We are a product that lives and dies by the stories that the user tells using our platform. Without that, Blogger doesn’t exist,” said Rick Klau, Blogger product manager.
“Blogging has become part of the air on the internet. And I believe we will see a bit of a renaissance in blogging where whole new groups of people will understand this gives them a lot more control and flexibility in what they share and how they share it.”
Industry watcher and founder of Salon.com, Scott Rosenberg believes most people will want to continue to tell those stories using blogs. “If you can express an idea in 140 characters, Twitter is great. But there are a significant number of ideas and stories that don’t fit that format and blogs are simply a better outlet for that.”
Blogger was started in 1999 in the midst of the dotcom boom as a side project by San Francisco start-up Pyra. One of its founders was Ev Williams, who is now one of the triumvirate behind the micro-blogging service Twitter. Blogger was created on a whim to aid in-house communication but the team opened it up to see if anyone else liked it. It quickly took off thanks to world events. “Blogging first emerged in the tech world,” said Mr. Rosenberg, the author of Say Everything which chronicles blogging’s rise.
“The next big milestone that helped take blogging further out into the world were the terrorist attacks of 9/11. People used blogging as a way to reach out, share their grief and debate what had happened. Journalists went there to find eyewitnesses and for information and quotes. Once they started writing about blogs, that of course published it to a wider world,” said Mr. Rosenberg.
He also said that the New York attacks showed people the value of blogging and that it was no longer just for geeks. “There was always the dismissal of blogging as being about people telling you what they had for lunch but what 9/11 demonstrated, even to the sceptics, was that the ability to self publish to a large number of individuals had public value.” Not long after, search giant Google recognised that value and bought Pyra for an undisclosed sum.
Personal printing press
Industry commentators argue that blogging marked a change in how people communicated and what they were willing to share publicly. “It was unique at the time,” said Mr. Klau, who began blogging himself in 2001.
“At the time we weren’t yet used to interacting socially on the computer. The web was not about writing stuff and certainly not about sharing. It was not a personal place and Blogger, I think, really changed all that,” he said.
“Blogging was truly born on the web,” Mr Rosenberg told BBC News.
Women were one of the biggest groups to take to the format. “Women were used to writing journals, but they took this to another level where they were finding community,” said Jory Des Jardins, co-founder of BlogHer.
It is today’s leading participatory news, entertainment and information network for women reaching more than 15 million women every month. “The top three reasons why women blog are for fun, expression and to meet other people like them,” she said.
“Today we are seeing a shift in the way people are leveraging blogs, finding new jobs, creating consultancies, and creating voices for themselves in ways they could never have done before. It’s a personal printing press,” said Ms Des Jardins. — © BBC News/Distributed by the New York Times Syndicate