Last week, Wired magazine published an essay stating that blogs are dead. The author Paul Boutin says don't even think of starting one. He even suggests that if you have a blog, you might kill it in favor of your Twitter, Flickr, or Facebook pages. Posts from blogs are no longer "first page results" on search engines; Wikipedia and "professional blogs" now dominate that first page. Why bother, he asks.
Why bother, indeed.
As I read the article, it's clear that he is speaking of the blog as "soap box", the blog as an attention gathering device. I can imagine him giving the same argument about writing novels, or making music. "Don't bother. It's been done already. Today's creative works are cranked out by pros." Forget your voice. There's no more room for it on the web.
I reject his thesis, partly out of self-defense. I write mostly to serve my own muse, to serve up my own musings. I don't write to be paid, or to get "mass" attention. While at one point I wondered about page views, I no longer care.
I care about having the ability to write on the web, in a format that people have come to accept, even though these people are quickly moving to other formats. I care about producing meaty writing, not these so-called tweets or status updates. I care about connecting with people, even if they turn out to be only my family and friends, and the occasional stranger. I care about blogging, and I hope for my own sake that it's not dead.
And as for anyone who's thinking of starting one? I say go for it. Paul's right that your posts probably won't merit mass attention. But if you have an angle or a point of view that you want to express, I think there's plenty of room in the blogosphere. It's hard to express your thoughts with just photos and tweets. Getting your writing out there is sure to satisfy at least one reader: yourself.