End of an Era: The Golden Age of Tech Blogging is Over

Update Dec 29: I posted a Taxonomy of Tech Bloggers in response to the growing conversation.

That’s right. We’re at the end of an important period. The tech blogosphere as we know it, is over.

Four Trends Show the End of this Era:
Like the film industry, the Golden Era is the emergence period, when fresh innovation in a new medium is born. New techniques, revolutionary content, and different business models emerge as innovators pioneer a new medium. I first had this discussion with Chris Saad, which triggered some thinking on my end. I asked some of the foremost tech bloggers of  their opinion, and found four clear trends on why the Golden Era of Tech Blogging is over, here’s what’s shaping this change:

Trend 1: Corporate acquisitions stymie innovation
Over the last few quarters, there’s been considerable acquisitions of organized blogs (which are more akin to news sites now-a-days), most notable, we’ve seen Techcrunch, who claimed annual revenues of about 10 mil a year, being acquired by AOL.  Yet these purchases are quite common, as AOL has acquired  Engadget in 2005, and also Huffington Post in 2011.  Just two weeks ago, another larger tech blog that has enterprise focus Read Write Web was just sold to Say Media.  What typically happens when these acquisitions happen? Often the star talent, or founding team is pressured out, takes a back seat while corporate business development teams match existing advertising inventory to a new found audience –forever changing the DNA of what created these startups. Lastly, acquisitions often force a conservative mindset over startups, because the purchase is focused on strengths of an asset, the mindset of ‘don’t break it’, keeps the culture to focus on the status quo. As acquisitions occur, innovation decreases.

Trend 2: Tech blogs are experiencing major talent turnover
Perhaps they were forced out, or maybe they saw the writing on the wall, but lately, we’ve seen a major change up in the all-star lineup of tech blogs. Just a few weeks before the acquisition of Read Write Web, the Senior Writer, Marshall Kirkpatrick separated ways (edit: he’s still writing at RWW, part time) now focused on building a product and company called Plexus Engine. Furthermore, Editor-at-Large of Mashable, Ben Parr separated ways from Mashable, yet continues to blog on his personal site. The most discussed exodus is a majority of the Techcrunch staff leaving, from founder Michael Arrington, CEO Heather Harde, top writer Sarah Lacy, and star journalist MG Siegler. Yet despite this loss, they acquired Eric Eldon, Josh Constine (both of Inside Facebook) and Sarah Perez (formerly of RWW) into the Techcrunch fold. Ben Parr himself listed out in greater detail all the people movements in the tech blogging space, there’s no doubt a shakeup occurring.  The talent shakeup is normal after several exits occur –with new stars moving on to new business models.

Trend 3: The audience needs have changed, they want: faster, smaller, and social
First of all, congrats if you’ve read this far! I’d assert you’re one of the few. I asked Ben Metcalfe (former MySpace and BBC) his opinion, and he says: “Attention is too fragmented now. There are just so many blogs/news websites/sources vying for your attention that you can’t read them all and build up the kind of relationship that you once could when the size of the universe was degrees of magnitude smaller.” As attention spans wane, readers want smaller, shorter bits of content, and this is why we’re seeing the growth in behaviors that social networks provide: commenting, sharing, images. I heard from Robert Scoble, who’s noticed a shift 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.” As a result, content needs are smaller and shorter, as I’ve noted in the rise of inforgraphics. Even the content strategy of Mashable is changing, their new direction is more akin to digital lifestyle –not just social media.

Trend 4: As space matures, business models solidify –giving room for new disruptors
This is a normal business trend in any new industry: New entrants, formalization of a new business models, and a series of business exists. Unless these authors been able to make blogging part of their business model, sustaining blogging is a challenge. Yet, let’s look at the data, in Technorati’s state of the Blogosphere for 2011 they reported that despite bloggers are publishing more, “Overall, fewer bloggers reported this year that they are making a living via their blogs.” In fact, this maturation of the tech blogosphere is a aligned to a normal cycle of industry maturing, emergence, many fail, some develop disruptive business models, and some exit. I heard from father of the Social Media Club, Chris Heuer who told me that “Blogging, and Social Media broadly, is past adolescence and into young adulthood, maybe even getting ready to go off to college. Going by our early measure of where are we compared to the dotcom era, I’d say we are about 2000, but without the irrational exuberance.” I agree with Chris and to illustrate this point, I’ve noticed that long gone is the scrappy new media entrepreneurs like Arrington who built a decent sized empire, cashed out, and moved on to to a traditional industry like venture capital.


The Future: A New Era to Emerge
Tech blogging isn’t dying, it’s evolving. This is a normal part of any industry, and here’s what tech bloggers themselves told me:

An opportunity for new stars to emerge
Now, with the major talent turnover, there’s an opportunity for a new media model to emerge, and along with it new stars: “The tech journalism space has changed considerably in the last few months, but there are new stars that are taking up the roles that the old guard have left behind. The voices, opinions and personalities that define tech are changing. Perhaps fresh minds and ideas are exactly what the tech media world needs.”Ben Parr

Yet, the rise of personal brands will be harder
Now that the ecosystem is entrenched with corporate owners and mature advertising programs, there will be less room for innovation and new stars to emerge.  Why? PR firms know who the established players are, and will continue forge alliances in page views for exclusives.  “Take for example that many of the “big blogs” don’t even link to the primary sources of their posts because they don’t want to send the traffic off-site. How can anyone get discovered if those who have the attention won’t share it?”  Ben Metcalfe

New models to emerge, long form content not the only way
Bloggers themselves know that relying on a single tool isn’t effective, they need a series of tools to use; “blogging isn’t dead. it may have gotten a LOT more social, and it may be less frequent now for those of us who also use twitter / facebook / tumbler / youtube for other distribution efforts, but the overall impact from these platforms together is BIGGER than ever before (and i maintain, also EASIER than ever before if you build it right).” -Dave McClure, who, on a related note, is also on a Blogging Hiatus.

Will mix new forms of media
Yet these top bloggers all agree that a new form of media mix will emerge; “Blogging isn’t dead and still a fantastic tool, there is room for new players and it’s still the best way to build your personal brand IMO. I’m actually planning to go back to blogging much more myself and just updated the template of loiclemeur.com. Also, what is blogging? Publishing a video with your thoughts on YouTube is blogging and that is extremely powerful, each time I do itI get a good audience, even if the video quality is crappy. A video can be much more like original blogging as you can take the time to express yourself in longer form.” –Loic Lemeur, tech blogger, entrepreneur, LeWeb host. Yet, he’s not the only one, Francine Hardaway, VC blogger says “Blogging is a tool, like social media. This year’s new tool will be personal video, which is long overdue.” who also nods to video usage.


Final Thoughts:
Despite the Golden Era of Tech blogging to be over, we should expect a new format, new type of content and new pioneers to emerge, forever changing the new media and tech reporting space. I for one, look forward to it and will embrace it, both out of necessity, and with passion.


Related Resources

225 Replies to “End of an Era: The Golden Age of Tech Blogging is Over”

  1. Fascinating. That points to some trends of what we will see in emerging markets too, like India. Tech blogs are the big chunk of “professional bloggers” here too.. but don’t see them being acquired soon

  2. Fascinating. That points to some trends of what we will see in emerging markets too, like India. Tech blogs are the big chunk of “professional bloggers” here too.. but don’t see them being acquired soon

  3. Good post Jeremiah — I also think that so much of corporately-owned channels (FB, Twitter, G+) are problems in search of solutions. Everyone is looking for something to point at, and frequently blogs are the end destination of social channels. Sites like VentureBeat have a huge opportunity to step in, take risks and win against TC / RWW. Plenty of room for new upstarts too. Digital publishing on an independently owned channel will continue to have value well into the future — it allows media brands to be platform agnostic and continually adapt to a changing landscape.

  4. Very good points here. At the same time, blogging as a way to publish new insights will continue to penetrate some populations (such as scientists) who are just now coming to the table.

  5. Personally i think there is too much focus on blogs making money through advertising… securing premium content and offering it at a price is my vision of a 2016 web and obviously mobile and social are going to be the catalysts for the success and propagation of that idea/content delivery method.

    Love your stuff Jeremiah!  Saw you and McClure at the Arizona Entrepreneurship conference.  Great stuff!

  6. I tend to agree here, Jeremiah. TechCrunch was refreshing for its brutal honesty. Clearly, the internal feuding there has hurt its standing. I believe the real opening here is for tech blogs that are less obsessed with every press release that emerges from Facebook and new check-in app for the iPhone that comes out.

    There’s plenty of room to cover the b2b and b2c tech industry more aggressively. Today, b2b – where much of new invention, not to mention huge amounts of new investment, takes place – is given short shrift. The tech readership is ready for bloggers that “follow the money” – and I don’t mean VC funds.

    In other words, there might be a new Golden Age where bloggers can still remain free of the strictures of traditional journalists while adopting more of the investigative principles of traditional journalism.

    Jesse

  7. Great, provocative post!  I think the last couple of points from your bloggers are especially important.  We now have many more options when it comes to distribution, and while blogging is one type of (long form) content, as marketers we also need to feed our YouTube channel, Facebook, Twitter feed, G+ (at a minimum) AND think about repurposing some of this for podcasts, ebooks, mobile etc.  How to do this efficiently and allow for deep / authentic / engaging discussions?  I think a key – to Loic’s point – is the shift from old school blogging to video blogging, which not only opens up new distribution options (like YouTube), but also addresses a key bottleneck facing many organizations: how to create the volume (and *velocity*) of content needed to feed all our social channels – via reuse, injection of keywords/SEO into the mix, and development of proper business channels on YouTube and other video sites.  If all this comes together we may see a quick shift from adoption of personal video in 2012, to more private (web) video networks, to full-on ‘Enterprise Social TV’ as businesses jump on board.  Would love to hear your thoughts.

  8. Great, provocative post!  I think the last couple of points from your bloggers are especially important.  We now have many more options when it comes to distribution, and while blogging is one type of (long form) content, as marketers we also need to feed our YouTube channel, Facebook, Twitter feed, G+ (at a minimum) AND think about repurposing some of this for podcasts, ebooks, mobile etc.  How to do this efficiently and allow for deep / authentic / engaging discussions?  I think a key – to Loic’s point – is the shift from old school blogging to video blogging, which not only opens up new distribution options (like YouTube), but also addresses a key bottleneck facing many organizations: how to create the volume (and *velocity*) of content needed to feed all our social channels – via reuse, injection of keywords/SEO into the mix, and development of proper business channels on YouTube and other video sites.  If all this comes together we may see a quick shift from adoption of personal video in 2012, to more private (web) video networks, to full-on ‘Enterprise Social TV’ as businesses jump on board.  Would love to hear your thoughts.

  9. Hey Jeremiah,

    I’d say it’s less the “end of an era” and more the beginning of a new phase.  

    In the past 6 months, Mashable made changes that dramatically accelerated our growth — we’re now serving 25 million monthly unique visitors, growing traffic at a faster rate than ever before.  We’ve beaten our own traffic records every month for the past 6 months.

    Revenue is up 4x from Jan 2011 to Dec 2011.  We’re up to 60 staff and expect to accelerate our hiring in 2012.  It’s a radically different organization with a much steeper growth curve than blogs experienced – it’s more like a fully-fledged media company.

    I think the important thing — and something that you spin as a negative here — is that change is essential to unlock new growth.  The fact that organizations change shouldn’t be seen as a negative — in our case, adapting to the new environment has led to the most successful phase in our company’s short history.  

    I agree that new forms of media are becoming dominant — including news consumption through social media — but for us this is a huge win, since more social media use means our stories reach a wider audience.  

    The future may indeed be a time when new stars can shine, but equally it’s an opportunity for businesses like ours — who are unafraid of adapting to the new environment — to enter a new, faster phase of growth.  We think our golden age is yet to come.

  10. I found this post via @benparr:disqus on Google+, so that’s one indication that there’s truth in Trend 3. With so much information, the summarized bytes of information will be consumed before the long form content. I myself prefer the long form, however it takes a carefully crafted tweet or status update to get me to click through. And, what Francine Hardaway said about personal videos, she’s spot on! 

  11. It’s interesting for me to consider this from a perspective of a tech blogger in a niche market (healthcare).  Certainly healthcare IT is behind the times and the healthcare IT blogging world is too.  However, I’m sure there are hundreds of other niches like healthcare IT that can do very well with this niche blogging.  When you see the money that can be produced by such a niche offering, blogging in niche IT is still alive and well.

    As I look at my numbers, I’m amazed that a website as well read and known as ReadWriteWeb only sold for about $5 million.  Many niche sites will do better than that.

    As a side note, I think I have you partially to thank for my blogging journey.  You gave credibility to Ted Murphy from PayPerPost and the paid blogging ignited my blogging journey to discover the niches where I could make even more profit.  So, thank you!

  12. Great post, thought provoking. I sense this could be the end of the beginning for the pioneers of self-publishing – the Techcrunch crowd moving on from their own platform to new pastures. Meanwhile blogging goes mainstream for the majority of businesses, outside the hot-house of technology sector. Remember the basics – decide on your objective and your audience. Then choose your channel and craft the message to achieve the outcomes. Content marketing, with purpose.

  13. I’d also add that many of the personal Tech blogs are seeing their owners get real jobs in a tough economy, and they’re having less and less time to post as frequently.

  14. Boy, Golden Ages sure are short compared to when I was growing up. 😉

    I think we’re really just looking at a reshuffling for the most part. Yeah, there’s a social layer that’s building up, but that’s just syndication / reflagging stuff to get eyeballs to the original content, wherever it is.

    I do think “John” is correct that niche blogging (like healthcare tech) has a long way to go — there are tons of industries where blogging STILL hasn’t caught on and needs to. That will hopefully develop.

    But the role of the central aggregator / reporter / analyst role in the tech sector should remain strong for a long time. Perhaps you’re just talking about “blogging” (whatever that means these days) but I’m talking about writing / publishing / sharing. That’s not going to stop.

  15. Nice article, it seems like social posts are the gateway to more in depth information- and blogs will remain the place for this info. Besides, a lot of tech blogs help consumers decide on tech purchases and remain top in search results. I know I would be disappointed if I was looking for info on a new gadget and I had to wade through a bunch of random posts, so I don’t think that will change.

  16. Nice post.  Not sure I like the trend towards faster, smaller as it dumbs down the genre.  But I guess ‘maturation’ means reaching the mainstream and we all know how that goes in America with highly visual, shallow garbage like USAToday and HuffPo.  I consider myself very fortunate to live in the thick of all the newest tech trends and delivery models and will continue to follow, support and propagate the most insightful, cutting edge and ‘edgy’ content. I just hope guys like Arrington don’t turn into pussies with their newfound wealth.

  17. Congrats on the growth Pete.  It sounds like you’re built a media company –that happens to publish on a blog. What will be interesting to see (as I asserted) that independent groups like Mashable can maintain more innovation than having a corporate owner.  

  18. Thanks Allen.  All very experimental.  I tried out Google Hangouts (video chat with up to 10 folks) on Google+ over the holidays with Chris Saad, and that’s an early form of this, spanning from the Tinychat service.  Really early, really experimental but a medium to watch.  

  19. I half agree Jeremiah.  Problem is, I just know with which half.  As great tech bloggers learn to take the money and not run, or make the money and not run, the category will stabilize. But I completely agree with the “length of blog post” point. Google Fast Twich Media.  I sure hope you stick around.

  20. Pete, I’ve been fascinated to see how Mashable combines paid content with social. We conducted a review of your site over a year ago. We saw about 30 paid writers, and 20-30 posts a day. With 10% of your posts coming from columnists content. I suggested, the paid writers gave you flexibility in targeting real time, and keyword news. While the columnists gave you social content, the columnist articles were more valuable than the paid journo articles. 1) Free 2) Social content from people who acted as their own publicity agents for each article published in Mashable, they shared, blogged and help get you the links and social influence without having to pay anyone. Plus you folks have been working on syndication. I’m curious about your numbers now. What percentage of your content is paid compared to community generated? How many community managers do you have who encourage submissions?

  21. Back in the day (pre-World Wide Web), prognosticators were predicting a future with 500 TV channels. With the ability to publish & deliver text, audio and video via TV/cable and the Internet to TV displays, desktop and portable computers, and smart phones around the world, it’s now clear that the “500 channels” predictions should have actually been a prediction of 500 Million Channels.

    Blogging is just one example of how individuals and organizations and create and publish content out to the world at large. So it’s no surprise to me that blogging per se is evolving once again to become part of the mainstream of media channels used to create & publish, especially as we enter the newest Golden Era.

    Great thoughts, Jeremiah, as always. Keep up the great work.

  22. Hey Pete, you’re going after quantity and it works, it seems. Congrats. But I’m not sure quantity is the only goal to go after… see what Steve Jobs has built.

  23. Hey Pete, you’re going after quantity and it works, it seems. Congrats. But I’m not sure quantity is the only goal to go after… see what Steve Jobs has built.

  24. Hey Pete, you’re going after quantity and it works, it seems. Congrats. But I’m not sure quantity is the only goal to go after… see what Steve Jobs has built.

  25. I’m glad you can explain the result of such a high growth (while excluding the partnership with CNN as a huge reason). Can you also explain the loss of value in the articles. I’ve talked with a handful of individuals in the NYC area and other major metropolitans across the country and the consensus was the same – Mashable is no longer a reliable source. How will you change that moving forward into 2012?

  26. I’m glad you can explain the result of such a high growth (while excluding the partnership with CNN as a huge reason). Can you also explain the loss of value in the articles. I’ve talked with a handful of individuals in the NYC area and other major metropolitans across the country and the consensus was the same – Mashable is no longer a reliable source. How will you change that moving forward into 2012?

  27. I don’t know about a Golden Era as much as an evolution in how blogging has moved from an edge media to Media companies in their own right as Pete mentioned.  However, what I think is just as interesting; and also indicative of the changing landscape of media is Larger Media outlets recognizing the emergence of blogging and social media as sources of information as well as channels for information consumption. 
    This is echoed in not only acquisitions, but in the adoption of social media within the larger players, CNN being the first.  Further you can look at the Arab spring and how blogging and social media has almost been a replacement for traditional media.
    In addition, the increase of mobile devices for creating and consuming media is still accelerating.
    I think its hard to call this a Golden Era, instead, I would call it a coming of age.  The real interesting times and their impacts on Media, global politics and life in general is yet to be fully felt.

  28. Video is no doubt a medium that adds value to blog posts. At the same time, I see it complementing text posts vs. replacing them. Take for example Robert Scoble’s interviews. They range from 10 to 30 mins. That’s great information but I find myself fast forwarding often in search of the nuggets that would save me 20 mins of my life while still getting the details I want.
    A blog post can be skimmed through much quicker, but it lacks the fun and dimension of the motion picture. In the ideal world, a video-blogger should create a 60 secs summary of the longer video or offer a way to skip to specific sections of the longer version (something possible with YouTube annotations).
    It’s a trade off between providing the most consumable piece of content vs. how quickly you can publish it.

  29. Great post — why? Look at the variety of people and comments to discuss the topic — both positive and negative. “Snackable” dosages have become the preferred method of both content and distribution, but even if the “end of an era” is true it will be accompanied by more interaction. I consider this an extension of the content, both in length and reach. It’s these trends that contributed to and represent the success of Twitter.

  30. John, Not sure what you’re talking about?  All the writers — including contributors — are paid.  Last month we added limited curation from partners in areas where we lack expertise — usually up to 4 or 5 articles per day. 

    Patrick, Content partnerships are not a major source of growth hence not mentioned.  They don’t even make it into our top 10 referrers.  Our core readership tells us that relevancy and quality are increasing.  I do believe that “quality” is a personal metric and not a universal one, however — what one person finds useful, another may not.  It’s very possible that the people you speak to aren’t part of our target audience, and that’s fine with us.

    But given the fact that the vast majority of our content is produced in house by paid journalists, we do at least rank high on one measure of quality — our content is very expensive to produce.

    Loic, We’re going after high value content since that carries the furthest across the web.  If you check in your reader stats, you’ll see Mashable publishes fewer articles than most comparable sites — they just get shared a lot more.  These articles might not be highly relevant to you (ie. what you define as a personal metric of “quality”), since you live in Silicon Valley, but that’s exactly why Mashable outgrew everyone else — because we cover tech in a way that makes it relevant to a highly influential online audience, especially those outside the valley.

  31. I dream and stand in, enough of the chit chat/not to belittle it cause I love information.  They have built the tools.  Yeah I love start ups and Venture Capital, though it all scares me at times.  Fred Wilson said it at a Paley Center talk this year, the suits were asking where do we invest our money, he said, that’s nice but it’s time for a revolution if things are going to last/work out.

    Let’s Cause a Revolution.  So that when November comes, We caused the Election, and Government didn’t know what hit them.  And, Education & Youth, Food, ETC. were blown away by the leaders who created the new Armies.  The Protesters are the Greed thieves, the Big BRAND Corporations, and politico’s that want to Own and Control.  The Time Cover 2012 will the The Human Being Who Cares and Loves You. SOPA for instance – Shervin & Sean communicated this is the year of Social Media in Campaigning, an official can be elected without money.  Of course, Big Finance Corporation want to Protest. We Have Big VOICE.  WE are the One that Make the Change Beautifully, Warrior Like, with Passion & Heart.  Imagine the Possibilities. And I See it happening Now.

    I don’t claim to know it all or have it exactly right, I have a strong sense and intuition, And, really interested to hear if this is in others listening.

  32. Mashable and TNW are interesting examples of the post-Engadget blogosphere and The Verge is probably the best example of people leaving a famous corporate-owned property, leveraging their own ability and micro fame to do something big. And more blogs will rise from ashes the way Pando Daily (if that’s a real name) may be working on. People who have been blogging for awhile see blogs as the outlet and the business and they see social media as distribution.

    And TWiT is the best example of building a new media empire that is live, relevant and macroniche.

    Blogging has its advantages. Some are superficial and misleading but advantages nonetheless. Ownership, identity and control are clear advantages.

    While Robert Scoble gets crazy amounts of attention and engag ement on G+, it was his videos and blog posts over the years that made that possible.

    The question is what does the post-Scoble / post-Cashmore / post-Laporte / post-Arrington look like and does he/she depend on a blog or a website? Tumblr? Instagram? G+? Facebook? Twitter? Or a little bit of each?

  33. The underlying trend here is that we’re seeing saturation in the old model of blogging (quick, based on aggregation and RSS feeds, often adding little more than snark). AOL and HuffPo have seen a lot of success using that model, as have many other bloggers, but I think readers are getting savvier now.

    While reporting always was expensive, and still is, sites that deliver real news, and which readers trust, are starting to look more valuable again. The NYTimes’ success in setting up its paywall this year is a reflection of that. The rising value of experienced reporters on the job market is another sign.

    So, with apologies to Scoble, I don’t think the future is in ever-shorter posts. For those with short attention spans, maybe. But for those who want to know what’s really going on, reporting is in style again.

    And yes, I’m the editor of VentureBeat, so I definitely have a stake in this POV.

  34. The underlying trend here is that we’re seeing saturation in the old model of blogging (quick, based on aggregation and RSS feeds, often adding little more than snark). AOL and HuffPo have seen a lot of success using that model, as have many other bloggers, but I think readers are getting savvier now.

    While reporting always was expensive, and still is, sites that deliver real news, and which readers trust, are starting to look more valuable again. The NYTimes’ success in setting up its paywall this year is a reflection of that. The rising value of experienced reporters on the job market is another sign.

    So, with apologies to Scoble, I don’t think the future is in ever-shorter posts. For those with short attention spans, maybe. But for those who want to know what’s really going on, reporting is in style again.

    And yes, I’m the editor of VentureBeat, so I definitely have a stake in this POV.

  35. Jeremiah:
    Definitely going through a transition. Twitter, Google, Tumblr, Google Currents, Flipbook and others provide quick ways to provide a wider distribution of headlines. Honestly just reviewing the headlines and marking items to read late can provide an overwhelming tide of information. Still think that the in-depth blog posts of this will find the readers, however, I was pointed to this page via @gapingvoid Glad I stopped by.

  36. At the end of the day, it’s about who you blog for and why. If your objective is solely to build a personal brand, then I agree with you. If you blog because you have something to say and you build a personal brand because of that, then the era is still strong. 

    If you are looking for instant gratification, then don’t bother blogging. Back in the golden age, there were no publishing platforms with large audiences. Those who wanted to stick out from the crowd, commented loudly on other people’s blogs, exercised linking behavior, did whatever they could to get indexed on Techmeme. Now, we have Twitter, Quora, Facebook et al.

    Different strokes for different folks but way to charge a provoking discussion, Jeremiah!
    (Wrote this on the G+ post but thought to leave a comment here as well.)

  37. At the end of the day, it’s about who you blog for and why. If your objective is solely to build a personal brand, then I agree with you. If you blog because you have something to say and you build a personal brand because of that, then the era is still strong. 

    If you are looking for instant gratification, then don’t bother blogging. Back in the golden age, there were no publishing platforms with large audiences. Those who wanted to stick out from the crowd, commented loudly on other people’s blogs, exercised linking behavior, did whatever they could to get indexed on Techmeme. Now, we have Twitter, Quora, Facebook et al.

    Different strokes for different folks but way to charge a provoking discussion, Jeremiah!
    (Wrote this on the G+ post but thought to leave a comment here as well.)

  38. A very interesting set of thoughts but I think there are some other components to consider: first is the rise of source voice as blogs and twitter handles have become common tools in the communication toolset of individuals and corporations, leading to a space where traditional aggregation blogs may be less necessary. 

    A lot of early blogs focused on commenting on what other people said but, as things evolved, there was an increased need for blogs becoming primary sources and thus delving into reporting and more original content. As this became more common, people who were traditional journalists became bloggers and vice-versa, turning the blog into another tool instead of a format. With more blogs dropping comments and fewer people commenting (and reblogging), this has meant that the distinction between traditional news or opinion pieces and blog news or opinion pieces is now mostly a matter of academics. 

    All and all, blogs are just a way to deliver media and media continues to expand across a number of different channels.

  39. Interesting post, but I would think that successful tech bloggers are somewhat innovative, so logic follows that they would be able to adapt with the changing times. A new phase may develop, and there will always be others to piggy back on that. My $.02

  40. The economy is a big player, isn’t it? It would be interesting to take a look at which ‘A-list’ tech bloggers started as hobbyists and which ones started with the intent of making money. I suspect we’d find a lot of the latter sort used the success of their blogs as leverage to get either “real jobs” or corporate acquisition and a lot of the former moving from hobbyist to those who quit their prior jobs to become professional bloggers. (Strictly basing that hypothesis on personally observed anecdotal data.)

  41. Good article.  I couldn’t agree more that people are so overwhelmed with all the blogging out there and, combined with their busy lives, they have to be super-interested in the content to take the time to read it.  It’s much easier to take in shorter bits and pieces of information or to watch a short video. 

  42. Hey Pete, it’s a fact that if your audience grows as well as your revenue it’s definitely proving success, don’t get me wrong, congrats for that as a business.

  43. Pete, are you saying you have no columnists who contribute content on a free basis? Or did you once have that arrangement? I thought you had about 5-10% of your content from free contributors but the majority from Paid journalists.

  44. Hi Pete, I just checked in with one of your contributing writers and he told me he wasn’t paid, and that no one is paid unless they are on staff. Did you understand my question. I meant the columnists not the staff writers.

  45. I would agree that it’s the “end of the golden era”, as more and more writing worth reading is less and less from individuals and Silicon Valley groups than it is from big corporate houses and Madison Avenue publishers. Big companies have started seeing the “value” in blogs like RWW, TechCrunch, and others and have been snapping them up in droves in hopes of firming up their own bottom lines or cannibalizing the incoming staff for their other struggling ventures.

    I’d also say, though, that blogging is definitely not dead. It is, though, evolving into new mediums such as video and micro status.

  46. Disagree – what we have is an explosion in form/factors in the way content is created and shared. In my next book due in a few weeks, the 500+ citations include ZDNet,
    GigaOm, Huffington, PopSci blogs, as much as NYT, Economist,
    InformationWeek. My own blogs show up in articles, my books, my presentations. Others like Hugh have cartoons. Scoble has videos etc.  I would argue we need more original content. Way too many tweet or post on FB or G+ someone else’s content.  Compared to the book or magazine publishing process, see how much
    quicker and more efficiently you can create and distribute your own
    content. Gutenberg would be amazed at the publishing power we all have. Take advantage of it!

  47. More and more contents. Less and less fidelity. Blogging is not over, but top 10 blogging services will face new comers. And this is good for everybody. I have more and more difficulty to find new stuff on the web 🙁

  48. The end is the beginning is the end is the beginning… techblogging changed already with the rise of Youtube, then Twitter and Facebook had their impact and now it’s Google+ plus the fragmentation due to all these blogs.

    Remember the time when people constantly complained about a dying blogosphere… now these guys are complaining about too many blogs.

    be flexible, use the new opprtunities and you will succeed!

  49. What’s up with these comments?  They’re grammatical, spelled properly, and with coherent thoughts.  Does Jeremiah grammar and spell check each comment?  

    As an interested observer in the tech scene, tech blogs provide me with accessible information and understanding.  This helped me understand how the sites I follow are evolving and why.  Thanks.

  50. I haven’t written a blog post in over 6 months, and 

    I went working for a startup run by a guy I have known and respected for a number of years doing something parallel to what I wanted to create as a startup but the bar was simply too high to achieve by myself.
    Time is a factor but these for me are the real barriers.

    1. Pissing off potential investors in current startup because I wrote something bad about one of their current crop
    2. Annoying technology partners – Google Twitter & Facebook especially – if I ever want my media embeds to work in Google Reader, G+, Google Currents, various Twitter streams and apps, Facebook Streams etc, then blog posts aren’t necessarily going to do it (well unless I tie it into a SOPA post next week)
    For example there are tons of things I have major issues with on G+ that effectively prevent me using it, because using it means I approve it… and I don’t fully.
    3. I can’t fairly write about new competitors… being the honest straight shooter (or trying to be) driving product decisions I am trying to not go poaching stuff, so many real new competitors I don’t even have an account.
    4. The startup I work for is part of the whole “How Do You Make Money From Your Knowledge” niche, and I believe strongly in dogfooding.
    It would hardly be right for me to monetize my own content with anything other than the platform I am the product manager for… it would be akin to Bill Gates using an iPhone, though in a different market (affiliate marketing & digital content).
    5. I would love to go out and praise competitors too, but just writing random posts about how well my competitors are doing would bore me to death.

  51. Blogging is still the best format for long-form content and essays.  But for informal engagement, social networks and Twitter have clearly taken over.

  52. Exactly, like SAI, Bostinno and many other “tech” blogs that now write about sports, celebs, etc. I worked on Corante, which was the *first* blog network back in the day. That was uber-quality from very smart people posting maybe once a day. Today, the junk that gets published from the so called Super-blogs is mostly crap.

    THANK GOD FOR TECHMEME! (now who’s going to do Gabe one better?)

  53. Some of it is good crap ;-), but I feel thats the general sentiment we all share, right? We want quality, publishers will do whatever it takes (linkbait, grrr!) to get eyeballs.

  54. While I agree mostly with your observations, I have to point that this article is riddled with typos and grammatical errors. 

    Very apropos, given the ‘tech blogging’ subject. 😉

    Please. I wish people would slowly read their own posts before publishing, or at least ask a colleague to give it an extra pair of eyes afterwards. 

    At BBC News, when I was there, we called them copy editors. Errors can only reduce any gravitas you wanted to achieve by writing a post or article in the first place. 

  55. I agree with the fact that customers now want information in a faster way and in smaller quantities, nobody has time to read lengthy pages especially if they are split into many pages

  56. Funny you should join this comments section. Because Mashable, I think, is a great example of a blog that has refused to get bought and has proven how a blog startup can go to enormous heights by simply responding to the signals it collects along the way. This is where you have proved one better than the TechCrunch crowd. TechCrunch should not have been sold. 

  57. Understand what you meant by the post, but interesting that people seem not to grok what you’re trying to say here. 

    Then again, I could totally be off – but believe that you aren’t saying tech blogging is dead itself, but that the golden era has gone. And that is true. While new stuff starts, the apex was reached and passed already.

    One side note – now that G+ is better integrated into Blogger (automatic posting), does that change Scoble’s point? Just food for thought.

  58. Yes, ,I agree to the premise of this article. Tech Blogging isn’t dying. It’s changing. It’s Evolving…

  59. Interesting analogy. I may have missed the tech blogging equivalents of “The Gold Rush” and “Modern Times.”  What were they? Is anyone planning a retrospective?

  60. Interesting analogy. I may have missed the tech blogging equivalents of “The Gold Rush” and “Modern Times.”  What were they? Is anyone planning a retrospective?

  61. This was a very strategic post to discuss a “controversial” topic to gain traffic to this site. We will get an influx of supply as technology becomes more accessible and easy to use and thus blogs become more fragmented. What you see is a shift to microbrands and blogs being more social. Blogging isn’t dying. It’s just changing its form. The message is still being written, just in a different medium such as social and video blogging.

  62. Sorry, don’t but it at all.. so Marshall and Ben left.. big deal! There’s dozens of other influencers in line to take up where they left off. Mashable may have been stunned for a day but then, guess what, they moved along, just as did RRW

  63. yeah, i called this in 1997 and then formally this year for all of you, the future of everything for the time being, the medium is the mass age, misunderstood catch all strategy OF OUR TIMES, is called this: RECONTEXTUALIZED CONTENT PROMOTION

    here’s my hint: “You can get it at Schonfeld’s on Lexington Avenue” the movie this line is from, is the philosophy that will solve all the speedbumps of ignorance blighting the sight causing moral fright by those who call themselves, “right”

    I’m available for….

  64. yeah, i called this in 1997 and then formally this year for all of you, the future of everything for the time being, the medium is the mass age, misunderstood catch all strategy OF OUR TIMES, is called this: RECONTEXTUALIZED CONTENT PROMOTION

    here’s my hint: “You can get it at Schonfeld’s on Lexington Avenue” the movie this line is from, is the philosophy that will solve all the speedbumps of ignorance blighting the sight causing moral fright by those who call themselves, “right”

    I’m available for….

  65. Jeremiah,

    Very interesting article.  We are at the precipice of a paradigm shift in the industry.  The standard blog role style format is evolving giving way to the more immersive world of video.  Finding a happy marriage between the two has been a struggle for many sites, corporate owned or not.  There still is room for tremendous growth.  TechnoBuffalo has grown 650% the past 12 months, and with video & text combined, serves over 12 million monthly visitors.  As Pete mentioned, industry upheaval is not necessarily a negative.  It forces the slow moving toward the bottom, and allows the malleable minority to evolve, grow, and flourish.  

    The corporate ownership you mentioned, while seen to some as a white knight savior, has led to a big of a proverbial speculative land grab amongst larger corporations, VCs, and private equity.  The perceived good-will and value the TechCruch and Engadget purchases bestowed to other tech properties is staggering.  It’s up to each site, to choose their direction.  Whether they want to give up ownership or try and go it alone.

    No doubt the industry is changing.  

    Jon Rettinger
    TechnoBuffalo 

  66. Jeremiah,

    Very interesting article.  We are at the precipice of a paradigm shift in the industry.  The standard blog role style format is evolving giving way to the more immersive world of video.  Finding a happy marriage between the two has been a struggle for many sites, corporate owned or not.  There still is room for tremendous growth.  TechnoBuffalo has grown 650% the past 12 months, and with video & text combined, serves over 12 million monthly visitors.  As Pete mentioned, industry upheaval is not necessarily a negative.  It forces the slow moving toward the bottom, and allows the malleable minority to evolve, grow, and flourish.  

    The corporate ownership you mentioned, while seen to some as a white knight savior, has led to a big of a proverbial speculative land grab amongst larger corporations, VCs, and private equity.  The perceived good-will and value the TechCruch and Engadget purchases bestowed to other tech properties is staggering.  It’s up to each site, to choose their direction.  Whether they want to give up ownership or try and go it alone.

    The Tech world is changing.

    Jon Rettinger

  67. Jeremiah asked me to contribute my thoughts from a Facebook discussion, and I chided him, but I decided to add my two cents. Here is what I wrote to John Furrier and his friends on his wall about the issue: 

    I’m inclined to believe John Furrier here for the simple fact that for there to be a golden era of tech blogging we need a few things: 1. Excellent reporting, at scale. 2. Good writing, properly submitted, vetted, edited and distributed, also at scale. 3. A personable and relationship-oriented editorial class and reporting class, able to think outside the box and to have excellent and measurable interaciton with the audience. 4. A distribution system that is more about social and less about old ideas about SEO and static foundational sites. 5. The end of TechCrunch. (I kid, I kid!) 

    I may have some more thoughts and I will contribute them after I have thought about them awhile. I am working on my own gig / company where I am mashing APIs and data and doing a kind of private journalism for business owners / travelers / entrepreneurs / VCs. Happy to talk about that with anyone. You can find me no Twitter [at] douglascrets (my handle). 

    My idea is to find ways to leverage the business / government / investment networks I curate and nurture in 32 countries, including mobile heavy areas in Africa, and then create layers of intelligence for different industries, reporting on the web, but also delivering “network channels” to people who need them, driven by nodes of influence. 
     

  68. My goal is qualitative data delivered through private networks, with a social layer that creates a “public space” for people of influence to use and share that influence with people who would like network access. I’m thinking there are some bright kids in Anaheim, Bronx, Queens, who don’t come from money and don’t have access, but they need an information pool that is more about experts than it is about reading the news each day and not reacting, not responding, not utilizing their life for good. Journalism and tech blogging, any blogging, kind of fails at this now because it’s all vanity stuff. What happens when it becomes all about Helping, or adding progress to someone’s life? 

  69. Is there a search tool that can help you find if a friend has left a comment on a blog that you have not actually left a comment on, yet? I’d love to be able to go to a comment field of 500 commenters and search for “Mandy” or “Ptolemy” and get their responses or thoughts. But not on a site, like in a real world wide web search. 

  70. Each year the family and I gather round the fire to revisit the tech blogs of yesteryear. We weep, we laugh, we rejoice and marvel at these timeless classics. And how it saddens me to hear this golden age is over. Whither the tech blogs of yesteryear? Gather ye insular gossipy meaningless blog posts while ye may, for the time is still a-flying.

  71. Tech blogging.. end of an era.

    The problem is that everyone is rehashing the same thoughts because you’re seeing it on other sites. RSS Reader working and I can see the themes everyday.

    Tech blogging is not necessarily done by technologists. You get the typical ‘I installed it, I clicked on it, I played with it for an hour”.

    that is why I stay away from the big tech blog sites.

  72. Why use the term “blog”? Surely these are professional news companies that employ reporters, editors, photographers, etc. 
    Just because a news site might publish using WordPress or Movable Type, does that make it a “blog'”? It’s a content management system, it’s a publishing system.
    Are news sites going away? Not as far as I can see. There are more of them everyday. Blogs these days tend to refer to personal sites written by professionals in various industries and they tend to be going away or at least, shifting to other platforms such as Facebook or G+, etc. 

  73. There’s a real opportunity for many more authentic subject matter experts to share their valuable perspectives without needing to find a major blog outlet to publish their articles now.

    The challenge becomes making discovery of relevant, valuable niche content as easy for the audience as publishing has become for the author.

    Welcome to the Digital Age of Media (again).

  74. There’s a real opportunity for many more authentic subject matter experts to share their valuable perspectives without needing to find a major blog outlet to publish their articles now.

    The challenge becomes making discovery of relevant, valuable niche content as easy for the audience as publishing has become for the author.

    Welcome to the Digital Age of Media (again).

  75. I personally think it’s just evolving. As much as people are heavily relying on short status updates on twitter and facebook, there is still a necessity for longer format resources, like blogs and news sites. I guess, we just have to wait and see what these changes can be.

  76. Great Post! When you say the golden age of tech blog is over, do you mean BLOGGING in general? I dont think blogging will disappear. The very simple fact that people are sharing, and people are communicating, blogs will drive discussion. Look at it: blogging has given information as social character, in blogging we got the social life of information…twitter, facebook just extended it to the larger online community. 

    As Pete say, without the content on mashable i wonder what people will exchange and talk. Now on the other side, we don’t follow each other – whatever you say on twitter for example, I dont get as we are not related (6 degrees if we want to call it). But by making a simple search, I came across your blog, read an interesting post, read those of the big guys further down and am leaving a comment. 

    Just the fact of reading constructive comments within this post makes blogging strong at the first place. The interaction starts from here. The new media allows us to extend it. Another example is the following: there are also millions of people who are neither on facebook or twitter  and if they are, then they are there for friends and family. but they still read the original directly, print and participate in comments. In this sense, blogging won’t disappear. it might evolve. But then interaction with information has always evolved. I for one still resist the thought that social media with its shorter bits of content will push blogging to the exit. The short bits of content serve as a teaser to click and read. Besides quotations, I dont know anyone who resist clicking on the mashable short url following a title-news submitted

  77. Awesome post.  Good insights. Most of the points are very true, but I don’t think that the golden age is still over, rather, the form of expression is changing. Now blogging does not mean only to write post and to discuss in comments, you can do many more. Social signals are  playing major role. The scope is huge but that needs new innovation – the right blending.  Yes I agree the comfort zone of blogging has gone. It’s becoming tougher day by day due to the competition and with the fastest changing scenarios.

  78. I’d argue that tech blogging is getting smarter. The field’s been filled with copycats for several years, but stars are emerging through finding niches and innovation. Instead of everyone trying to be Mashable or RWW or Tech Crunch, bloggers are learning it’s smarter to cater to small, passionate niches.

    Or that’s what I’m seeing.

  79. I think for new tech blogs to thrive, content is not the only way. You are right that social will really play an influential role on it.

  80. This has been my point from the beginning. I have written a couple of articles to this effect. The future is the smaller unknown bloggers who are not driving someone else’s agenda or living under the sway of the “zeitgeist” of money first, money talks. 

  81. the topic of the post is highly appreciable and I am very much impressed with the quality and researched work for the article. I think all the above Four Trends Show the End of this Era are truly valid.

  82. Hi Jeremiah, I’m joigning the conversation a bit late… However I have some questions: I agree with the fact that the phenomenon is evolving but for internal blogs I see there still is some space especially when you’re talking about big companies where employees do not have access to internal social media platforms. I would be interested in knowing your thoughts. Sagz

  83. I completely agree. When PC’s first became popular every one said they would create mass unemployment. Quite the opposite happened. The same can be said for social media platforms. They wont kill blogging, it’s just another platform on which to do it.

  84. Difficult to tell. I’m too much confused, i think tech blogging is near to end because now everyone is trying make a simple tech blogging site to earn some profit. So, i’m disagree with those sites who have low quality content.

  85. Only bloggers think that there was a golden age of blogging. Anyone not caught up in this IT tech hype or internet blogging doesn’t think much of it. It’s not real journalism or reporting, just a bunch of people sounding off. Just like I am doing here. No real in depth thought. People just doing what is easy with minimal work.

  86. This is just because every newbie wants the easiest way to come in blogging and tech blogging is the easiest way to come in blogging !!
    Hope people stop copying others and start and implement their own ideas

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