Joe Litobarski wrote a post earlier today entitled “Blogs are Dead… Long Live Facebook!” Like a lot of Joe’s stuff it’s a thoughtful case, but, ultimately – in my view – wrong.
Far from becoming redundant, blogs are simply changing – blogging and the mainstream media are merging (more from Charlie Beckett here), so as some blogs become bigger and more influential, so many hobby bloggers stop. I’m not sure this is a problem, and it’s definitely not the death of blogging. Joe and I are largely in the same boat – we don’t make money directly from blogging, but the pursuit complements the rest of the stuff we do.
The question as a blogger is then: who are my readers, and how do I engage with them?
For me, the answer to this splits in two – a lot of people reading here are people I do not know in real life, people I would hence not become friends with on Facebook. Those that I do know in real life I am friends with on Facebook, and they – in the main – read these posts when they are imported into Facebook as Notes. That gives me discussions in two places, but that’s a problem I can live with.
While Facebook becomes more and more of a professional networking tool, it essentially remains a place for connections among friends, and the reach of this blog is wider than that. Secondly, the sorts of people I hope read this blog – academics, journalists, specialists in the public sector – are people who are likely to be discerning enough to not use Facebook to run their entire lives.
Joe’s post also raises the issue of using a Facebook login (and Facebook Social) to allow comments on blogs. I steer clear of this, wanting to make it clear that commenting on my blog (my platform) is according to my rules and my technology. How non-Facebook users behave when confronted with a Facebook comment form I cannot begin to imagine.
Also worth noting is that Facebook is not as prevalent in all European countries as it is in the UK – have a look at CheckFacebook, and check Germany for example. Plus as Facebook becomes more and more hegemonic, so a vigilance towards its walled garden is ever more vital, and if there is one thing that should persist among bloggers its the need to challenge the mainstream, to be subversive. I don’t deny the importance of Facebook (and indeed you may read this post there, or share this post on Facebook) but likewise you can interact fully with this blog without needing to go anywhere near Zuckerberg’s evil empire, and that’s a good thing in my view.