John Hawkins at RightWingNews laments the decline of the independent right wing blogosphere. Popular blogs are increasingly bigger and more connected to conventional media, or are group or aggregate blogs. It’s harder for a little guy (such as myself) to get started these days, and most of us who are already established have seen our traffic decline somewhat from a peak of a couple of years ago, or the spike that occurs for the few months before elections. The blogosphere has settled down and filled out, and people have found their niches.
Bloggers talking about blogging are a type of inside baseball, quite intriguing to those involved but perhaps not all that fascinating to the rest of the world. But still, I want to state that I’ve noticed something similar to Hawkins, and I don’t think it’s limited to the right: people’s reading habits have solidified within the blogosphere, and patterns have been laid down that are relatively impervious to change. Also, as alternatives such as Twitter and Facebook have blossomed, there are fewer blogosphere readers in general, especially younger ones.
I’ve also noticed that a lot of the popular blogs feature short and snappy commentary, not longer stuff like mine. In fact, that’s not a new phenomenon; it’s been true from the start. And it makes sense, too. Aside from long-form blog greats Bill Whittle and the incomparable Steven Den Beste (who retired from blogging in the archaic year 2004), most of the really biggees have not been drawn to the lengthy missive (a current exception to this rule is Ace, a master of the long form and the short, with huge traffic.)
Readers increasingly lack patience—especially the young—and to justify asking for a reader’s patience, a writer has to produce quality work. I try for that although I don’t always succeed, but trying for it suits my temperament. It doesn’t suit everyone’s.
In an earlier piece of mine about Den Beste, I quoted him as having written:
I write about something because I’m compelled to, because it’s often the case that if I don’t, then I can’t get it out of my head. Putting my thoughts into print relieves an internal pressure which also isn’t easily described.
And while that isn’t true of me every day, it’s true often enough to keep me going so far, and it’s true about blogging in general for me and for many bloggers with staying power. For us, it’s not a fad.