After a one year stop, this blog is back!
To start with my OpEd in this month's Communication mag. It's about blogs and social networks.
By Jihad Bitar
Head of Knowledge at Quantum Communications
When the editor of this fine magazine contacted me for this column, the first question she asked me was “why haven’t you been updating your blog?”. Even though the true reason was a fashionable laziness attitude in these hot summer days, I also noted that my “blog monitoring” business had gone down by 50% in the last two years, while my Facebook and Twitter listening revenues was up by 400%!
So are blogs dying? What is certain is that we are a large 190 million worldwide blog population… but a declining one. The number of blogs created has gone down significantly in the last 3 years. And of the 190 million blogs out there, only 4% (source: Technocrati) were updated in the last 4 months, indicating a slow but certain erosion. Instead of creating a blog to post ideas or comments on the neighbors, user x now prefers to open a Facebook page (much faster) and/or twit on the predicament of having noisy neighbors. Twitter and Facebook’s unique strength is unmatchable for the typical blog: they both need less content: Creating and updating content is probably one of the most annoying thing user x has ever done.
The venerable Economist magazine put it best in its June 24th 2010 issue, when it quoted a researcher - a self proclaimed “blog archeologist” – describing his research platform as a “vast field of dead blogs”. In the last year, growth of Blogger and WordPress, the world’s two leading blog hosting platforms, have stagnated , while that of Facebook surged by 66% and Twitter by 47% (source: Nielsen Research)
In our own Arab world, reliable figures are even harder to find. I estimate the number at around 500,000 (of which an estimated 50% are in English). But like all other webbers, Arabs are slowly moving away from blogs, and going to Facebook, Twiter and MySpace (and even blackberry chat). Egypt is still the main provider of blogging content (no surprise there, as Egyptians are known to be the most talkative of the Arabs), but Gulf countries are slowly catching up. Lebanon & Jordan (thanks to Maktoob’s platform) benefit from their “more liberal” cultures, and are hosts to a number of very opinionated blogs (which is how blogs should be anyhow)
If blogs can die, then they are alive. And like life, Darwin’s theory of evolution also applies to the blogosphere. It is evolving, and only those that adapt to internet changes will survive. Blogs with access to recurrent content are thriving, and who better to create content than both the corporate and political worlds. Technocrati’s top 100 blogs (by number of visits) show the strong lead corporate blogs have (number one is the hugely successful Huffington Post, a leading US political commentary site).
The blogosphere is being slowly eaten by the brand builders; they have the money and the time. Blogs are not dead, they are just getting older and more capitalistic.
The real question now is, will Facebook and Twitter follow their “old” (born in 2004! roughly 200 years in internet age) cousin’s fate? My guess is to watch out for the corporatization disease; it has no known cure!
Being Lebanese, here is a list of my favorite Lebanese Blogs:
http://beirutntsc.blogspot.com/: don’t agree with him on many issues, but very well written and entertaining
www.bloggingbeirut.com/: great pictures and videos. The king of Lebanese blogs (in number of visits)
http://mayazankoul.com/: a must see
http://www.hummusnation.net/: very ironic
www.beirutbeltway.com/: An immigrants perspective
www.michaelyoungscolumns.blogspot.com/: if you like politics
http://www.arabdemocracy.com/ : Not really Lebanese, but very interesting