One of the things I mentioned in my “items that might grow up to be blog posts” post from last night was an entry by Phil Sim of Squash about how the tech blogosphere has “peaked.” Phil, who is a bit of a curmudgeon at times – not that there’s anything wrong with that – says he’s noticed that tech.memeorandum.com is boring now, everyone is writing about the same old crap, the site’s Alexa traffic is down, and so on. The capper for Phil is that Gabe has branched out into baseball with a sports-themed version of memeo.
Gabe and Paul Montgomery of Tinfinger.com raise a number of points in the comments to Phil’s post, including the fact that Alexa’s rankings aren’t the best guide when it comes to traffic, and also that more “memetrackers” have entered the field, including Megite.com and TailRank.com. But Phil’s point seems to be larger than just that. As my friend Rob Hyndman says here, Phil seems more concerned about the idea that this slump might be part of a cyclical decline in the blogosphere, with many bloggers coming up to their two-year anniversary (in fact, plenty of them are coming up to their fourth, but who’s counting).
Phil says he found in journalism that two years was the longest you could write about something without getting bored and stale. I’d like to run that idea by someone like Walt Mossberg at the Wall Street Journal, who’s been writing about tech for substantially longer than that and still seems pretty interested, but let’s leave that for a moment. I’ve also been writing about technology and business off and on for more than a decade now, and I don’t find it any more boring, or have any less interest in it – if anything, I find I have more interest now as a result of things like Web 2.o.
Apart from the Alexa data problem, I think Phil is confusing a normal human phenomenon with a cyclical downturn in the tech blogosphere. It’s possible that some bloggers who have been doing it for years may be feeling burnt out, and others may feel that it’s time to move on to other things – and others may be working on their own Web 2.0 projects, the way Rob and Mark and I have been working on mesh (as I pointed out to my friend Kent Newsome when he wondered whether I was losing interest in blogging).
Blogging is writing, and it’s a conversation too – and both of those things have a natural ebb and flow to them. Writing is hard (at least good writing is) and some days are better than others. And some conversations are better than others. Phil himself has wondered in the past whether it isn’t too much for one person to do consistently. I told him then that I thought maybe he was getting too caught up in the traffic thing and needed to refocus. Why are we blogging? That’s the most important thing. If it’s for traffic or attention, then that will inevitably wane – if it is from passion or desire for conversation, then I think that can endure a lot longer. Everyone has to choose.