It was with profound amazement that I read a column at the Software Development times, where I read an article declaring, if I might paraphrase in my own vernacular, “blogs teh suck!”. Bemoaning blogging as a largely self-indulgent activity with poor tools to support it? What is this, 2001?
Mr. Binstock, a principal at a data analyst firm, bases his assertion on a few things. He launches his piece by stating that most blogs are “self-absorbed blogs of tweens, teens and college kids”, and the remaining tend to be abandoned. Only 1% are readable. Then, he launches into an extended diatribe about the failings of most blogging software, that is best left to the man’s own words …
[most blogs present a static paradigm of] a main panel of text with one or more additional columns of predictable material’€”generally a bio, a blog roll and a calendar linking to the very same blog you’€™re looking at. Gosh. How about active content? Maybe a dash of Web 2.0? How about sidebar links to other things? Or links that tell you where they lead when you hover, so you don’€™t keep clicking on definitions of terms in Wikipedia or other silly nonsense? How about using Google’€™s translation engine to provide translations automatically at post time? Or showing me links in the current blog that refer back to the present entry? Or showing me the number of people who have visited this particular post? Even getting posted comments straight would be helpful: Why not thread them as newsgroups do instead of having one comment refer to a previous comment that must be guessed. Come on, guys, none of this is hard, yet (to my knowledge) most blogging software offers few, if any, of these features.
The astounding ignorance of Mr. Binstock rings similarly of the same sort of people who claimed that no one would ever need a personal computer, and that the internets (or maybe blogs now) are no more than a fad like CB radio. I won’t go into the lenghts that blogging has traveled over the few years, the importance that blogs have to search engines (Google seems to be testing separate search results for blogs in addition to all the Google juice), how blogs are now more widely read and trusted in many parts of the world (the Europe and the UK) more than newspapers and other traditional media, and how a significant number of people are actually and actively blogging (25% in Canada alone read blogs) — but will only point out that Mr. Binstock’s article, like his opinion, seems to be poorly educated and supported.
For example, anyone who reads more than two active blogs recognizes that “web2.0” ajax effects are prevalent in many blogs; “side bar links”, AKA a “blog roll” have come and gone, and are regarded by my blog designers as passe; links that refer back to the present entry are named “trackbacks” and are present in many blogs; the number visited a given post, threaded comments, hovering destinations (and images of those pages) — these are all possible with any number of blogging extensions or widgets.
One only need to look at his own blog to see that he is basing many of his blogging software commentary on the Denny’s (or maybe McDonald’s) of blogging — Blogger.com.
As for his commentary about 99% of the blogosphere being irrelevant, self-indulgent, or abandoned? Even if that were true that still, since there are 50 million blogs, it still leaves over 500 000 relevant blogs to read. But perhaps he didn’t read the latest in the state of the blogosphere courtesy of Mr. Sifry of the Technorati.
(Which assumes that he’s heard of Technorati).
Mr. Binstock concludes:
It’€™s safe to say that blogs are predictable in their presentation, limited in their capabilities, difficult to set up right and a pain to maintain actively. It’€™s no wonder that so many blogs are eventually abandoned. For a technology that supposedly will democratize the world, it has a long way to go. May progress come soon.
Don’t bother. I confirmed it for you — the article is dated 2006, not 2001.
“Predictable?” If we’re using WordPress check out any one of the main wordpress theme sites to get a sampling of some fine works; “limited”? WordPress, and many blogging software can double as a CMS in a pinch; and “difficult to set up and a pain to maintain actively”? What planet is Mr. Binstock living on? Betwteen Vox.com, WordPress.com, and hell — even Blogger.com (which his own blog is sitting on), its getting easier and easier all the time.
And all of this from a contributing editor to Infoworld as well?
My, my, my.
Even as 2006 is ending, it seems like ignorance about blogging escapes no one — not even some of the most senior individuals in the Tech field.