Thursday, February 23, 2006

On the wrong end of the trend... again!

Sorry Bored Housewife.

Sorry all you "Blogs of Note."

It's all over for blogs and bloggers, at least according to this editorial in yesterday's Chicago Tribune:

Bloggy, we hardly knew ye

No sooner had Al Gore invented the Internet than early adopters discovered a liberating opportunity: Anybody with a modem and an ego could share his or her thoughts with the world.

Remember what happened next? By the mid-1990s, a few self-publishers were sharing with tiny audiences links to Web sites they found interesting. In time, these hardy pioneers began adding commentaries--often insightful, usually irreverent--to their lists of links. In short, smart people were posting virtual logs of their interests and thoughts. In December 1997, the term "Web log" surfaced. In short order, we had the inevitable contraction: "blog."

After that, the deluge. Today there are 20 million blogs worldwide, a number that grows by thousands daily. The ones that matter most, of course, have gobs of readers--with enough eyeballs to attract investors and advertisers.

But will everyone live happily ever after?

You're forgiven if you cling to the conventional wisdom that blogging, like half-pipe snowboarding, enjoys an unrelievedly rich future. Forgiven, but maybe behind the curve. A new report from Gallup pollsters, "Blog Readership Bogged Down," cautions that "the growth in the number of U.S. blog readers was somewhere between nil and negative in the past year."

* * *

The pixels hadn't faded on Gallup's downbeat report when columnist Daniel Grossman chimed in with another requiem, "Twilight of the Blogs." Grossman says: "There are troubling signs--akin to the 1999 warnings about the Internet bubble--that suggest blogs have just hit their top." Among those signs: too much corporate money trying to buy into what could be a fad (including Time Warner paying a reported $25 million for Weblogs Inc.). Is too much money chasing not enough revenue? As Grossman aptly notes: "In the end stages of any investment mania, the clueless and the greedy flood in."

* * *

The clueless and the greedy, eh?

At least they didn't call me by name.

Anyway, it's all my fault and I'm very sorry. I've killed trends before: The aforementioned Internet bubble burst right around the time I was offered an equity stake in a can't-miss start-up. Fortunately for me I was just as impecunious then as I am now -- or I'd be even worse off today. (With a tip of the logic cap to Gracie Allen on that one... but you get the point.) At least this time I got in before the bubble burst.

So, lock the doors, bloggers. Kill the lights. Strike the sets. I may stand out here on the boards declaiming to the empty balconies a while longer yet, but I know, now, that it's all over. Still, it might be good practice for me to continue... just in case a book editor who's just as clueless and greedy as I am happens by.

And, actually, even the Tribune editorial suggested that blogs may persist among "that segment of inordinately dialed-in Americans who are enthralled with, or at least entertained by, one another's opinions about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.... So blogging has a future, however indefinite. At least till Al Gore invents the Next Big Thing."

And I'll probably kill that, too. Maybe, though, I'll get in earlier next time....

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