…blogging, for better or worse, is proving resistant to scale. And I think there are two reasons why.
The first is that, at this moment in the media, scale means social traffic. Links from other bloggers — the original currency of the blogosphere, and the one that drove its collaborative, conversational nature — just don’t deliver the numbers that Facebook does. But blogging is a conversation, and conversations don’t go viral. People share things their friends will understand, not things that you need to have read six other posts to understand.
Blogging encourages interjections into conversations, and it thrives off of familiarity. Social media encourages content that can travel all on its own. Alyssa Rosenberg put it well at the Washington Post. “I no longer write with the expectation that you all are going to read every post and pick up on every twist and turn in my thinking. Instead, each piece feels like it has to stand alone, with a thesis, supporting paragraphs and a clear conclusion.”
The other reason is that the bigger the site gets, and the bigger the business gets, the harder it is to retain the original voice.
That is from Ezra Klein, there is more here. (I recall Arnold Kling making a related point not too long ago, does anyone have the link?)
If you haven’t already noticed, we have no plans to chase traffic from social media, at least not by changing our basic interests and formula.
Here is another thread I found online:
“The majority of time that people are spending online is on Facebook,” said Anthony De Rosa, editor in chief of Circa, a mobile news start-up. “You have to find a way to break through or tap into all that narcissism. We are way too into ourselves.”
There is more here, from David Carr, mostly about selfie sticks and Snapchat. The human desire to be social used to be a huge cross-subsidy for music, as young people used musical taste to discover and cement social alliances. Now we don’t need music so much to do that and indeed music plays a smaller role in the lives of many young people today. This has been bad for music, although arguably good for sociability and of course good for Mark Zuckerberg.
The “problem” is that the web gives people what they want. Those who survive as bloggers will be those who do not care too much about what other people want, and who are skilled at reaping cross-subsidies.
Addendum: Kevin Drum offers comment.