it's the end of the blog as we know it - and I feel fine

Blogging has come a long way through the early days of the internet. But for one veteran blogger he can see that things have changed...

by Mark Allen

Remember way back in 2005? It was only a decade ago.

We started to realised the true horror of the tsunami, George W Bush was stating his 2nd term in the USA, but social media as we know it today was just a glint in Mark Zuckerberg’s eye. 

Social media was just for geeks and ‘blogs’ and ‘citizen journalism’ were the next big thing (despite having been around for years)

Well I shall let you into a secret. Blogging probably saved my life. But even I think it is past its sell by date in 2014.

It was like a supernova that burned brightly, briefly and then fizzled (or the Xmas pudding we had on 25 December) – I can imagine Prof Brian Cox describing the process in a few years, or perhaps that is a D:Ream too far! 

In 2004/5 I was waiting for a double lung transplant. I was attached to oxygen 24/7 and scraping a living as a freelance journalist after returning from living/working in Korea. I remember reading online about ‘blogs’ and being intreagued. 

I started one up (you can see the archive at http://transplantwait.blogspot.com) – My blog suddenly took off as it chronicled my fight to survive long enough to get a transplant. 

Perhaps one of the people who read it and got on the Organ Donor Register was one the one who’s lungs I got. 

I wrote an article for The Express and Star on blogging – it was one of these new words like ‘selfie’ is now, at the time -(typically I had to virtually threaten court action to be paid for it) went on BBC Radio WM talking about it and it even led to articles in Women’s Magazines and an MP3 diary.  Google ads on my blog gave me a sid line income too! 

It seemed for a while everyone wanted to write an online diary. People followed the people they knew or had an interest in, or could relate to. 

People commented on them and few forward looking councils had their great and good talking about what they did. 

Then the meanings got fuzzy. Suddenly radio shows were doing ‘blogs’ – which were more like best of streams or just websites and were often more interactive. 

Things were developing. I still kept writing, my recovery, the rejection, the recovery the long term health issues etc, celebrities I me. Significant life points, like representing my country and table tennis.. And later about my job as press/media officer at a council 

Then of course came Facebook and Twitter for every man (and his cyber dog)… This changed the nature of the game (and the fame). 

We didn’t need to blog what we did over the last week or when we had something interesting to say. We just put it on Myspace, then Facebook and then Twitter. The photos left Blogspot and morhped to Instagram.

Our collective updates were more effective than a blog as they could be done immediately and people could react instantly. 

The so-called citizen journalists didn’t really materialise (with the exception perhaps of some urban centres). These were going to be the new hyper-local wedges to fill gaps left by retreating traditional media. 

But now people just re-Tweet or re-post news from traditional sources like BBC News, national or local newspapers websites or trusted journalists. While the citizens often start inaccurate rumours or get into hot-water over libel. 

There seems to be no more new news sources, just regurgitation. 

What happened to the brave new world? It still exists where people want to expand on the short updated allowed on Twitter. 

But in the same way The Big Breakfast worked out we wanted our news short and sweet and The Sun realised it needed to talk in the language of the people. The times (if not The Times) are a changing and blogs I feel have fallen by the wayside. 

I still have affection for them – and some I follow are insightful and amusing – but in an age we know most of what we want from people’s social media posts, are they more a niche market than mass communication tool? Perhaps I have missed the point. Perhaps I should write about it on my blog! 

Mark is Press/Media/PR officer at Halton Borough Council in Cheshire.