The Golden Era of Tech Blogging is Over? Hogwash!
Posted by Bob Warfield on December 28, 2011
If you wait long enough, some topic will come along to reignite your muse and you’ll find you just have to write a blog post. It’s been a little while since I wrote about my Kindle Fire ups and downs. I’m still very happy with the little Fire, and was recently surprised to discover that overall, video quality on the Fire seems better than it is on my iPad with Netflix. This seems to be an artifact of how much compression gets used by Netflix, since I can see the video I’m watching go in and out of fine detail focus. But that is not why we are here!
Jeremiah Owyang has written a blog post, promptly Techmemed, that says the Golden Era of Tech Blogging has ended. It’s fundamental underpinnings seem to revolve as much around whether anyone can make money at is as whether the practice of Tech Blogging is done. He supports his thesis with these 4 arguments:
1. Corporate Acquisitions Stymie Innovation. The argument is that a big corps acquire feisty Tech Blogs, they squeeze the life out of them, killing innovation. Dude, have you been through a “liquidity event”? They all squeeze the life out of the acquiree. I can’t remember a single acquisition I have gone through where the tech survives today, although most of them the tech would be useful today. Most of the time acquisitions fail to generate net positive shareholder value. Rarely is the talent kept aboard, and rarer still does the talent continue to appear as, um, talented. Does that mean any acquisition is a sure sign the game is up in whatever space? Nope. It means the talent gets to go do it again, quite possibly in an adjacent space since they know how the rules work there. Are all these bloggers jumping out of these tech blog acquisitions abandoning blogging to join enterprise software or some such? Nope.
2. Tech blogs are experiencing major talent turnover. This is a minor rehash of #1, so not clear why it stands on its own. As the lawyers say, “asked and answered.”
3. The audience needs have changed, they want: faster, smaller, and social. No kidding? And we know this, how? People deal with the competition for their attention in a lot of ways. Some decide the best idea is to switch to media where an “information quantum” is a lot smaller, Twitter being the extreme. Some, perhaps best personified by great bloggers like Seth Godin, deal with it by upping the quality of the feeds they will spend time on. What’s really clear is that a lot of the Social side are trying to design their products to lock up attention space just the way the old retailers liked to lock up shelf space. But my attention is not a shelf, and I am not getting enough of value to participate in that game. Hence, while we know that Google+, for example is growing, we have no idea what the real engagement there is doing. In cases where we can see engagement, like Twitter, it ain’t great. I wonder whether Owyang will recommend to his corporate clientelle that they drop blogging and focus on all this social. It would be interesting if he did, but I think it would be a mistake both for Owyang and the Corporations to follow that advice.
Looking at the issue of how to deal with all the noise, I want to reiterate there are two types of folks. Some thrive on the choas. The more they can get, the better. Scoble is one such, and I am not surprised at his quote that “…when I write something on Twitter,Facebook, Quora, or Google+ I get immediate feedback. I get thousands of views very quickly and get distribution through things like Google’s Currents or Flipboard readers. Blogging seems to have struggled in some of these areas.” Scoble is just chasing eyeballs and traffic. But is that what you’re chasing.
I met with Owyang to pitch him on a company once. He’s definitely from the Scoble ADD crowd. He barely had time to hear what we were talking about or to ask questions he was so busy with Twitter during the meeting.
4. As space matures, business models solidify – giving room for new disrupters. That’s a really odd way of relating what the body of the text goes on to say, which is that there are now enough bloggers in the world producing good enough content that the quick first mover flash in the pan can no longer scoop up vast amounts of traffic with little effort and then cash out. So what? The flash in the pan stuff shows up in every segment and unless you want to make your living chasing flashes in the pan instead of delivering real value, it isn’t cause for concern. Flash chasers are fundamentally looking for the next latent Ponzi scheme. When it gets harder to find one the focus sharpens on quality and everyone wins. That’s a far cry from deciding the era is over.
Sarah Lacy has a few choice words on Owyang’s post as well, and disagrees equally as much with his conclusion.
Pundits and consultants are paid to tell us something we didn’t know, and the successful ones will manage to do that. Just because it’s different doesn’t make it right or wrong. Decide for yourself.