After the sudden appearance of Tony in the dotProject forums and his great work, I started reading his blog and exchanging quips with him on the dotProject forums, here, and various other places online. To get his own revenge for my stunning ripostes and critiques, he has tagged me to share some thoughts on what 2007 will look like for blogging.
Before I look forward, I think it's worth looking back. First, I would call late 2004 the "Rise of the Blog". The various sides in the US Presidential Elections moved blogs into the public eye with things ranging from the nuking of Dan Rather to Howard Dean's amazing mobilization effort. 2005 saw the rise of a handful of professional bloggers who often went on to build their own or serve as the anchor in the early blogging networks. These pioneers often made a good deal of cash and ignited a fury of people attempting to duplicate their success throughout 2005/2006. 2006 also saw something interesting… companies who didn't get it before are starting to get it. They realized that by being open and participating in the discussions, they could gain credibility and attention for both their successes and their failures.
Alright, so what does this mean for 2007? I think it means quite a bit…
More companies who "don't get it" are going to try blogging.
I've been involved with a number of companies while they've discussed and pondered various blogging efforts. Most of the efforts get crushed between the Marketing and Legal departments and the champion of the idea becomes a casualty of the battle. While there are some fundamental concerns about "insiders" sharing certain information about a public company and another set of concerns about the "message", there are literally hundreds – if not thousands – of companies doing it now so there is a path to follow.
Various governments will get involved… and not in good ways.
Yes, we've had free reign for a long time. Generally, the "blogosphere" has policed itself and ridiculed the liars and frauds into nothing… unfortunately, we all know that when something is working, the government has to step in to break it:
Guaranteed: Watch for the US Federal Election Commission (FEC) to step in and look at the usage of blogs in political races and come up with rules to make our lives more difficult.
Guaranteed: Watch for the Courts and various Law Enforcement Organizations to step in and continue to fight out the definition of "journalist" and related issues.
Likely: Watch for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and their foreign counterparts to add additional definitions to "insider" and/or apply it in new and creative ways that will make our lives more difficult.
Likely: Watch for various governments – especially those with poor human rights records – continue their efforts to regulate, register, and interact with bloggers to "help protect them".
Possible, but unlikely: Watch for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to look at blogging and online communications in general in reference to broadcast standards.
Disclosure: I am considered an insider for one of my largest customers. Therefore, despite the exciting and fascinating stuff that we're working on, I discuss it very little in this space due to the legal complexities in sharing information.
Blogging networks are going to take a hit.
If you look at the size and breadth of some of these 2nd generation networks, it's simply stunning. They're two inches deep and don't seem to have serious penetration into their niches. While I sometimes have a selective memory, I don't believe this is how the pioneers began. Those started by staking out one niche, completely owning it, and then doing it in another. If this second generation of networks doesn't figure out a way to grow and eventually lead their niches, they're going to collapse from their sheer size and lack of a common base. Think of it this way. It's very easy to recruit/publicize/etc a network of 5 blogs all in the top 3 of their niches than a network of 200 blogs all in the top 100 of their niches. I would hate to watch those balance sheets this year.
The original hip-ness that came from being a blogger is cooling off and will be completely gone soon.
When I first started talking to others about blogging in mid-2003, they didn't know what I was talking about. When I really started blogging in 2004, I was barely ahead of the curve. By mid-2006, some misguided individuals believed that I was a pioneer with something important to say. After being chosen as Time's 2006 "Person of the Year", I expect this air to completely disappear shortly and be replaced by an attitude of "what? you don't have a blog?". This isn't going to affect everyone and likely few outside of the technical areas, but it will mean quite a bit for geeks.
Blogging will steadily become mandatory for a tech person to stay relevant.
When a university considers hiring a professor, they look at their education, their performance on the job (classroom/lab), their past work/research, their publications, and their future plans. As a predominantly intellectual exercise, getting a job in technology is quite similar with one exception: publications. Just a few years ago, a geek with a published article or book was rare and even then it was highly technical and specific to the ideas being shared. Even though the dotcom bubble spawned a storm of technology magazines these were forgotten as quickly as they were published and have disappeared from our consciousnesses. Blogs are just the opposite in that they offer both a look at the person generally and the topic specifically. Any employer not dropping a candidate's name into Google at this point is missing one of the biggest and best tools for research.
Unfortunately, with all of that being said, I don't see a way to measure most of these. They point more towards trends and attitudes more than useful statistics and therefore I think I'm safe no matter what happens. 😉
Tony has shared some thoughts also.