When I started this blog at the beginning of the year, I wrote an initial post trying to answer this question.
Now that the experiment — no, market research, really — has been going some eight months, I thought it might be a good time to revisit the question.
First thought: it is harder work, and takes more time, than I would have guessed at the beginning. Even trying to write in the more colloquial, conversational, and less rigorous form takes time and effort. And for what? And why? I am not sure I can answer those questions, and for me personally, I do not see any real, tangible gain — at least at this point — that outweighs the burden of the work. And I write that as someone who genuinely likes to write.
Second thought: as a reader, as I have noted in other posts, I find a very large portion of the blogs that I read incredibly unsatisfying. On the positive side, the trade blogs (particularly in digital media) are very, very useful. Particularly the offhand gossip about start-ups and watching meme trends, both of which make competitive research as I start my new venture much easier, and faster. But most of the rest, including the top blogs as proclaimed by technorati and others, I find increasingly tedious and useless.
One cannot extrapolate a market trend from a purely individual perspective, but I have wondered if these views are shared by others, and if so, what this portends for blogging and "participatory media" generally. It all reminds me of a previous bubble which came to nought in 1998-1999, when we thought self-publishing sites like Goecities and the Globe and Tripod and Angelfire would change the dynamic of the web, when of course they didn’t.
It also reminds me of Real circa 1997-99. We were thrilled by the emergence of hundreds of thousands of programmers forming our "long tail" — audio and video publishers rushing to the Net, creating or re-purposing a hugely diverse schmorgasborg of multimedia programming. That excitement gave way in 2000 to the hard realities of life and business; why would these folks continue to create or re-purpose that programming if it took work, and didn’t pay dividends or generate revenues.
I think blogging and various forms of participatory media will continue to exist, for sure; the question is how big a force it will be in the end. I think, ultimately, it will come down to money. For me, as there isn’t money or other value to be gained, I probably will end this experiment in blogging for a while. Too many other things to do!