Phil Sim

Web, media, PR and… footy

Tech Blogosphere has peaked

The tech blogosphere has peaked. Definitively. It's reached it's nadir and I'm afraid it's nothing but downhill from here, baby.

You might have noticed that Gabe launched his memeorandum engine into another vertical yesterday – baseball. The reality is, he had to. Since Christmas, tech.memeorandum has been trending downwards. It hasn't been a plummet or anything, but there's a very definite gradual decline there. In March, that decline got a little bit steeper and a little more consistent. And it wasn't just memeorandum, Tailrank pretty much mimicked the traffic flow as well.

Now maybe it's the memetracker category hitting a flat spot. But I think tech.memeorandum in particular has been the barometer for the tech blogging community for a long time now, so it's now an unreasonable suggestion to declare that what's good, or should we say not so good, for the gander or also bad news for the goose.

I hardly blogged over the last couple of days. Fact is, I rely on memeorandum to keep me up to date with what's hot in the blogosphere. Unashamedly, memeorandum is my muse. This week, memeorandum has been my valium.

I think it was last Friday, when I started to notice the rot. The top memeorandum post was about Yahoo! and China (blah, heard it all before) followed the next day by the Scoble vs Amazon CTO dust-up (blogosphere = geek celebrity tabloid). Next up we had the joy that was April Fool's day where those self-indulgent rib ticklers just seemed to go on and on and on. That was displaced by the New York Time's "radical" front page redesign where, wait for, they've discovered RSS and today I'm staring at some story about nasty ads that have GM's nickers in a knot (ok, this one is a little bit interesting).

All in all, dross. Where's the disruption? What happened to the revolution?

Here's a question: When was the last time you found a really, great new voice. Who's the hot new blogger? Late last year/earlier this year, there was a pretty significant influx of new bloggers into the game and personally I think we'll look back and say that was the tech blogosphere's golden age.

About that time, anybody in tech who was ever likely to start a blog did. Let's face it, you need to be a certain type of person to blog. You need to be something of a workaholic because good blogging takes time and anyone who's any good should have a pretty full plate anyhow; you need to be able to string a few sentences together; you need to have a raging ego and you need to have a head for ideas. If you're one of those people, you've almost certainly already started to blog.

Now, there's a pretty fair chance that you've either considered giving up the blog or you're blogging less. Let me as an old Dead Tree 1.0 dinosaur give the Web 2.0 folk a quick editorial lesson.

When I was an editor, two years was always as long as I felt I could give a job. After two years you find yourself recycling the same old stories, writing the same old opinion pieces, producing covers that looked like something else you did last year. I like to live under the delusion that I could find an angle on a flag pole but at that two year mark, I run dry. Actually, I reckon you start to run dry after 12 months but you can probably hang on for another year with selective recycling.

A lot of your more interesting bloggers will be hitting that point now. They'll be writing something thinking 'god, this sounds like that other post I did about…' On top of that, their families might be starting to tire of the old, 'As soon as I've finished this blog post' routine and then there's the kicker – Web 2.0 itself is getting stale.

Turn over to TechCrunch and tell me how many of the new launches are really inspiring or new. Mostly they're tweaks on the same old ideas – social networking, search, photo sharing, news aggregators, etc. I never thought I'd say this, but I'm missing the Web 2.0 ballyhoo!

So begins a slippery slope. The tech blogosphere gets progressively more boring so less people are inspired to blog which begets more ennui and so on. I'm not suggesting for a moment that it's dead or anything, just that it's plateued. Those of us who are still blogging are probably doing it because we've discovered a positive ROI on it and we'll likely keep doing it. However, I don't see where the next rocket is coming from that's going to start a new wave of smart people blogging about tech. Web 3.0 anyone?

Filed under: Blogs

49 Responses

  1. Caitlin says:

    Hi Phil, Daily grind wearing you down? It sounds like you need a good holiday!

    The NYTimes has had RSS feeds for ages, it didn’t come with the new redesign.

    Everyone in tech who was ever likely to start a blog may well have done so by now (though I’m not entirely convinced there aren’t some goodies in store in the long tail). But the world is not tech! If you broaden your horizons and look at the blogosphere beyond the insular world of technology, it’s still expanding and growing. I discover cool new blogs all the time, but they’re on cooking or writing or living in Brazil, rather than software.

    Web 2.0 (god I hate that term) is not about bloggers writing about technology, it’s about the broader revolution. There would be no threat to ‘old media’ if it were merely a threat to technology journalism, important as that may be.

    I started my blog in Feb 2005 and intended to just update it occasionally to let the folks at home know that I’m still alive. I make it a point now to blog every day so I’m blogging more, not less.

    The other thing that I’ve been really getting into in the last six months is listening to podcasts and there are excellent new podcasts coming online all the time, but again it’s not all about tech.

  2. What if the lull is because bloggers are busy working on Web 2.0 applications instead of merely talking about them. Oh wait, you’re still blogging so that must mean…
    😛

  3. Liban Hassan says:

    If I may add that as far as the memetrackers are conserned , the decline you show on that alexa chart can be easily explained by this other Alexa chart.(http://www.alexaholic.com/memeorandum.com+tailrank.com+megite.com?y=r&r=3m&z=5)

    You will notice that adding Megite to the picture makes it more complete. I can’t say if Megite’s growth is at memeorandum or tailrank’s expense but at least it demonstrates that the sector is still viable for now.

  4. Gabe says:

    Well, the downward trend isn’t really happening. Growth has slowed a bit, but continued. I think something’s up with Alexa, and it’s affecting more than my site. I think Rich from Topix said something similiar somewhere. For now I think the safe thing to do is add 20-30% to Alexa rankings for various tech sites (or substract the similar amount from pre-Feb/March time frame.)

    Yeah, last weekend was pretty brutal. But I think in general, t.m is getting better, not worse at dealing with these events. I think last week was just a pretty bad week for pileons.

  5. Rob Irwin says:

    Well everything ebbs and flows, so this is no surprise — although it’s certainly worth noting, as you have done, Phil.

    It’s like how I famously talk about starting blogging in 2002 and feeling like I was on the arse end of the phenomenon… then in 2005 it because the hottest thing since sliced bread. Go figure. It’s just one big cycle.

  6. zelig says:

    Oops, I messed around with html in the previous comment.

  7. Andy says:

    Good point Phil. I’ve noticed my favourite blogs becoming increasingly boring, and this goes beyond tech blogs. Tech rot is definitely evident and some other genres are suffering from the same problems. I too am wondering what the ‘next big thing’ in tech will be, and also who will be delivering the best blogged opinion when web ‘3.0’ (or whatever the catch-phrase of the week is) rolls around. No idea at the moment.

    I think the current tech problem is largely to do with the point you made about new company/product launches… everything coming at us through techcrunch seems like the 50th iteration of some ‘mashable-social-networking-open-api-web-2.0’ thing, whether it be with photos, word processing, storage, calendars or anything else.

  8. […] I was expecting to read Phil Sim’s post about the peak of the tech blogosphere for novelty’s sake and then toss it aside. And then I read it, and realized that he’d answered my own questions about why so much of what I’ve been reading recently just doesn’t seem blogworthy. Gist: When I was an editor, two years was always as long as I felt I could give a job. After two years you find yourself recycling the same old stories, writing the same old opinion pieces, producing covers that looked like something else you did last year. I like to live under the delusion that I could find an angle on a flag pole but at that two year mark, I run dry. Actually, I reckon you start to run dry after 12 months but you can probably hang on for another year with selective recycling. […]

  9. farlane says:

    It’s probably just that you’ve SQUASHED it, Phil!

    Seriously, the period you show doesn’t seem to me to be long enough to be statistically significant. Plus, much of the early Net Deux blogging boom was due to bloggers getting up to speed on what was already out there. I think a drop-off was to be expected once they’d found a good part of what was there.

    It could be that everything has been invented, but I think you might want to keep the patent office open for another few weeks, just in case.

  10. […] Squash » Blog Archive » Tech Blogosphere has peaked Phil Sim speculates that the tech blogosphere has reached its peak….. (tags: blogging technology Web2.0) […]

  11. Adina Levin says:

    This doesn’t make much sense. The difference between bloggers and journalists is that many bloggers are practitioners — programmers, businessfolk, etc who stay in the career for longer than two years. The top end of blogging is going to have its share of dull stories — a catfight, a Microsoft product introduction — but that doesn’t mean that people aren’t writing interesting things. Oh, but you’re right. Stories about ajax have peaked, so tech innovation is over. Or, stories about minicomputers have peaked, so tech innovation is over.

  12. flaco says:

    Bleh…NAY SAYER!😉

    Interesting post, although, IMHO, tech related blogs might go down hill for awhile, but they will be back up again — as soon as the latest and greatest technology is realeased.

  13. […] Squash has a post this morning titled Tech Blogosphere has peaked (which, ironically, I found because it floated up near the top of tech.memeorandum). […]

  14. Ken Yarmosh says:

    Phil, I’ve appreciated you as a “new voice” in the blogosphere. After all, Squash is only 4-5 months old (and yet quite popular to your credit).

    “News rot” is not a tech specific phenomenom – it is just more clearly evident through a bunch of folks who are absolute info junkies. The reality is that we don’t need hundreds of sources (bloggers, media outlets, etc.) all telling us the same thing, especially when it is about an alpha product not even released yet. It does get old. It does get boring.

    What drives me mad are comments like we need to the “latest and greatest technology” to be released. That’s absurd. Outside this little bubble, there are millions of folks who don’t even know what a blog is…they still are struggling with e-mail.

    The revolution is yet to begin. Current technology needs to mature before we see any significant usage outside the early adopter crowd.

    In the meantime, just start unsubscribing, so that you can tune out the noise😉

  15. Alex Hutton says:

    To be fair, there has traditionally been plenty of baseball online. In fact, as a sport, baseball’s always been kind of progressive in this sense. Rob Neyer used his early ESPN pulpit (1996 – very 1.0) to push the disruptive view of the game that would become famous in “Moneyball”.

    Blogging about baseball has been very popular now for years! If you consider Slashdot the earliest 2.0 application (1.9?) then baseball has had 2.0 for almost as long.

    Baseballthinkfactory.org is known for being one of the best places for salient discussion about baseball. Heck even in 2004 VPs for various teams were going to the fanatical sabermetric blogs asking the community if they thought various players were worth the free agent contracts they were asking the team for. You can interact with your team’s front office (if they’re progressive enough), baseball players (Curt Shilling once trolled a Red Sox site) co-ordinate IRC chats during games, and have more dialogue with your team than you can have with many Web 2.0 companies. We were doing Campfire-esque chatting long before 37 signals had product over services (and it was h3ll on our servers).

    No, I’d say that ballbug is more Memeo making a bad decision than any indication that Blogging has peaked. We sabermetricians, we’ve had more than enough aggregation and community for years. In fact, if you want to pick up how to create communities (albeit in a rather aesthetically unpleasing way) look no further than baseball.

  16. Ian Lamont says:

    The rot you note can be partially explained by the nature of the memetrackers. They push the most linked blogs to the top of the pile. It makes for an echo chamber of the same voices talking about the same topics, and marginalizes other great voices who don’t have inbound links.

    I am waiting for someone to invent a decent anti-Memeorandum that cuts out the A-list bloggers, and gives more weight to new voices. Anyone working on such a service?

  17. John Furrier says:

    Tech blogging has not peaked. Hey I’m a tech blogger and I love baseball. Thanks Gabe.

    Alexa is completely flawed. It’s been broke for a long time and the past two months it’s been severely broken

  18. bobmorris says:

    Political blogs are having the same thing happen.

    DailyKos yearly chart
    http://www.sitemeter.com/?a=stats&s=sm8dailykos&r=36

    Americblog said ad revenue dropped 75% in two months
    http://polizeros.com/2006/03/22/the-coming-blog-shakeout-pt-2/

    I just dawned on me. What outside event could be impacting blogs in general (in addition to everything you mention in your excellent post)?

    The event that drew millions away from blogs, and which has grown astromonically of late is

    MySpace.com

  19. […] The web of participation is not only populated by people who creates new services or people that write reviews about those services; that would be a closed environment doomed to plateau sometime soon. There are also those people using the new tools for making new things or for making the usual things in new ways, and the real innovation has to come there. […]

  20. […] Over the last year or so I’ve noticed an increasing number of folks making their case for a site’s rise to ascension or certain doom by looking at Alexa stats, the most recent of which is Phil Sims who declares tech blogging as a whole is on the downslide: The tech blogosphere has peaked. Definitively. It’s reached it’s nadir and I’m afraid it’s nothing but downhill from here, baby. […]

  21. na·dir

    1. Astronomy. A point on the celestial sphere directly below the observer, diametrically opposite the zenith.
    2. The lowest point: the nadir of their fortunes.

    So I suspect you meant:

    “It’s reached its zenith and I’m afraid its nothing but downhill from here, baby.”

    Hamish.

  22. […] Hace unos días Sergi, de Technorantes, publicó un post titulado Tocando Techo en el que hacía eco de otro post en el que se planteaba el agotamiento de las bitácoras tecnológicas. […]

  23. […] Levin also adds that “While the influence of blogging on the average consumer has perhaps been overstated for the present, it is inconceivable that the power of blogs and bloggers will do anything other than increase as time goes on.” But that’s also up to debate. There’s a whole debate on whether blogging has peaked: see here or here (the comments are interesting) or here. […]

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  45. […] Sim thinks this may be because the tech-related blogosphere has peaked. I have to admit that most of what Phil says makes sense to me. I still scour my reading list and […]

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