* Are Blogs Dead?

Are we really having conversations or just talking amongst ourselves?

My October 2006 “nothing.but.net” column that I wrote for the ABA is a challenge of sorts. I was critical of the ABA’s closed publishing scheme and praised the open blog model. Here’s a chunk of what I wrote:

I miss you, my audience. I miss getting feedback, by email or otherwise. I miss the interaction. I miss the conversation. And since there are only two reasons to keep doing this, love and money, I can only say, “Show me the love!” Read this article. Steal this article before it disappears into the archives. Forward it to a friend. Visit my weblog. Leave me feedback. Link to me so that I can link to you. Let’s show everyone what a people-powered conversation machine the Internet can be. Then, in December 2006, when this article goes into the ABA archives, check back on my weblog to see the results, to see what’s more powerful, a dynamic open web 2.0 or a static closed web 1.0.

My experiment is now five weeks old (counting from the date the print publication was delivered) and I’ve received one comment – and that was from somebody with whom I’d spoke about the issue in person.

So are blogs dead? Are we really having conversations or just talking amongst ourselves? Was Jeremy Zawodny correct when he said that the implementation of “nofollow” tag in weblog comments did nothing to stop comment spam but eliminated a real incentive for bloggers to comment on other blogs <http://jeremy.zawodny.com/blog/archives/006800.html>? What would our friends at Freakonomics say?

I’m getting 100,000 page views per month to erikjheels.com. So somebody (or something) is reading this site. So here’s an open letter to y’all:

Dear Blog Readers:

If you want me to keep writing my “nothing.but.net” column for the ABA, then you’ve got only three weeks left to make the case that blogs are not, in fact, dead. Comments on “Steal This Article” are open.


13 Replies to “* Are Blogs Dead?”

  1. My opinion?

    No, Eric, they’re not dead. Most are flapping on the ground, however, due to the lack of persistence of most people. Mine flapped for a very long time until I found a theme.

    Many blogs are updated very often and have a whole lot to say. Those are the ones the news tracks to find trends about the “blogosphere.”

    You’re probably getting 100,000 page views per month because someone’s promoting the site with Google AdWords. Just a guess.

  2. Ben-

    Thanks for the comments. I doubt it’s Google AdWords. Google crawlers (and other search engine spiders) maybe. At 10 cents/click, it would cost $10,000/month to generate that much traffic from Google AdWords. If someone is spending that much to promote my site (sure ain’t me), God bless ’em.


  3. It’s hard to keep up with everything. Your blog is one of an increasing number of blogs out there, and there is such a thing as information overload. I have 60 feeds that I’m watching in Bloglines. 60! And some of them update 6-15 times a day. It’s just too much. It’s probably blogging fatigue. I know it is on my part. I may read in Bloglines and won’t comment unless I’m really motivated because there’s just too much to get through. You really have to stand out.

  4. Brother, things are just getting started. Now that IE7 is out blogs and RSS are about to go mainstream. We’re still early into the media shift, but blogs are so far from dead. Keep writing, linking, and commenting… and you’ll see.

    I’m glad I found your weblog today (via Dennis M. Kennedy w/ Between Lawyers) Your 100k page views is evidence that people are consuming your efforts, they are just trying to understand how to respond. I noticed that I very rarely left comments on other’s blogs until I myself started a blog.

    Once blogs replace CV’s/resumes and newspapers, we’ll see the “people-powered conversation machine” that you refer to begin truly illuminating communities and cities.

    Make no mistake we’re alive and we’re not turning back. If you haven’t already – google “MyBlogLog” – there’s more evidence over there.


  5. Nope, they ain’t dead. Blogs and the interaction and networking created thereby are more vibrant than ever.

    The comments saying most blogs are on life support are without any factual support. See David Sifry’s most recent State of the Blogosphere indicating the majority of blogs are kept current.

    Comments or lack thereof are not necessarily a sign of life. Most interaction takes place by you commenting about other posts in a post of your own and others doing the same.

    No doubt commenting on other blogs will draw traffic your way. Comes by referral links – I regularly get as well as the blog publisher gets to know me and vice versa. My commenting often leads to their writing about some of my posts and vice versa.

    Before wrongly concluding that blogs are dead, I’d take a look at what others are doing outside the law to make their blog a vibrant and interactive tool.

    Hundreds of non-lawyers at the Blog Business Summit two weeks found blogs more vibrant than ever. More than I ever I heard that those commenting on other blogs were having more and more success.

  6. Greetings Kevin,

    Thanks for the comment. Just to clarify, I haven’t made any conclusions, I’ve merely asked a question.

    I’m surprised that nobody has addressed the “nofollow” issue. I think that’s huge.


  7. My good friend,

    It’s harder for people to read or keep up with blogs because there are so darn many out there. I do read your blog/emails, especially times like now when I’m prepping for a talk on Web 2.0 and law – but I confess it’s not near a 100% read of every contribution like it used to be.

    With so many sources of content, I think it’s absolutely imperative for bloggers to stay focused in their topics. The most valuable part of this blog is the intersection of law and technology from someone who’s a ‘name’ in the space. Add comments about open source/pure tech and it’s still interesting though more diffuse (“confuse”?). Add Baseball and Rock ‘N Roll to the content and it becomes a significantly harder choice to add this to already cluttered mindshare. Question: what are the best techniques for authors to do a simple double check on whether they’re serving their audience or serving themselves with a blog post? I confess this certainly is an ongoing struggle from my blog-posting. Being ‘real’ with oneself about what is valuable enough to be referred to more than once by a reader is one possible test, asking (committed) readers for a few demographic/interest questions is another approach.

    To sustain to an ongoing dialogue (i.e., generating more blog comments but beyond this as well) in this information-crowded world, I think we need to get back to the basics that formed the early online communities – passionate groups of people focused through a single topic or demographic theme, understanding that they are committing in some small way to a mission/theme/passion by interacting over months and years. Surf-by readers – who are absolutely is one’s goal is to surf for information bytes/bites – reinforce the expectation that commenting on blogs isn’t worth it, because who else are you commenting for?

    Great news, those 100K page hits. I’m curious too as to the source. I remember a time when this was THE place for law and technology blogging content. Of course more lawyer- technologists have caught up as bloggers so it’s more crowded, but it’s actually hard to find this blog if I Google terms like law technology blog or IP blog. It seems like there’s a choice to separate the blog/personal opinions from your Clock Tower Law corporate law site, so it’s hard to even discover this blog from your own site. I’m personally fine with marketing a blog on a corporate site. Audiences have grown up – many (most?) blog readers will accept a corporate relationship to a blog if the content is focused on their interest and honest.

    Hope this is helpful,

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