New platforms, increased brevity have led to the de-evolution of blogging

2010-02-09_Blogging_MarisaVasquez

Marisa Vasquez

Bloggers exchange traditional platforms like Wordpress and Blogger for websites like Tumblr and Twitter to increase readership. Twitter’s 140 character limit provides concise “micro-blogging” and ease of distribution among other social networking sites.

Rainy Schermerhorn

It seems like just a few years ago, blogging was one of the biggest emerging trends on the Web — alongside embracing social media, companies such as Google, Adobe and BBC implemented blogging into their business practices. But almost as quickly as it grew in popularity, blogging through the traditional means of written posts seems to have fallen out of the spotlight in favor of sites like Twitter and Tumblr, which allow for media-based updates with more brevity than their predecessors.

While blogging as a whole certainly hasn’t vanished from the public spectrum, with the emergence of sites that combine the best aspects of both blogging and social networking, the blogosphere appears to be in a state of evolution — or as some may argue, de-evolution.

According to alexa.com, an informational online ranking site, Twitter’s traffic is ranked No. 8 in the United States, with Tumblr steadily growing at No. 24 — in contrast, Blogspot and Blogger have fallen behind at No. 11 and No. 58, respectively. With 50 percent of its user base under the age of 25, Tumblr has become a popular site for college students, but is not limited strictly to this demographic. For instance, the 2012 Obama campaign launched its “Obama for America” Tumblr in late October of last year.

However, Austin-based fitness blogger Valeka Cruz of “Running on Heavy” chooses to stick with the more traditional platform of blogger.com for her updates on running, dieting and general wellness.

“In my opinion, the other platforms that focus on brevity don’t give as much insight to a person’s writing style and voice,” Cruz said. “One of the primary goals of my blog is to help others who have fitness, health and wellness concerns. I began writing it out of necessity for myself and found that a lot of others were interested in what I had to say and could relate to what I was going through.”

While Cruz admits that she often receives less reads for particularly verbose posts or updates made during weekdays when people have less time to read, she believes that the “classic” approach simply works better for her content, despite her appreciation for shorter blurbs put out by other fitness bloggers on Twitter.

According to assistant advertising professor Vincent Cicchirillo, the main difference between the two platforms is connectivity, with sites like Twitter being on the social sphere and traditional blogging on the more political and informational sphere. Cicchirillo also believes blogs are vital resources for coverage of more local topics that the mainstream news doesn’t always have time to write about.

“Twitter is essentially microblogging,” Cicchirillo said in reference to the 140-character limit users have for their posts. While Twitter is generally for casual day-to-day updates, “blogging is becoming more formalized and mainstream,” Cicchirillo said.

However, the often questionable perception of Twitter as a source for updates of a trivial nature may gradually be changing. With the use of Twitter as an organizational tool during political uprisings, such as the ongoing Syrian revolution and the Egyptian riots of early 2011, Cicchirillo says that the site’s usage is not strictly limited to casual updates, allowing for fast-paced ‘tweets’ that blogging cannot as readily provide.

In a 2010 New York Times interview with Evan Williams, former CEO of Twitter, he marketed the site as “an information tool, not a social tool, and … an essential way for people to communicate and get information in real time.” However, with the new censorship policies announced by Twitter last month that adhere to the censorship guidelines of certain countries such as Thailand and China, the use of this platform as a political communication resource may be debated.

Journalism freshman Raisa Tillis, a frequent ‘tweeter,’ believes that the increasing popularity of microblogging over more traditional platforms is a natural, inevitable progression.

“It’s like the latest pair of shoes — everyone is wearing or wanting them but they won’t be cool forever,” Tillis said. “Soon there will be another website and students will leave Twitter behind just as they’ve done [with] MySpace.”

When it comes down to it, an implementation of both platforms may prove to be the best bet when it comes to blogging success. One example of such an approach can be seen with The University of Texas at Austin itself, which implements both means of communication with an official Twitter feed and individual blogs for many of its departments. For Tillis, regardless of platform, her main priority is communication with her followers.

“I enjoy using Twitter because although there’s a small character limit, I’m encouraged to say as much as I want and I know people are actually reading what I have to say,” Tillis said. “I love being able to let my followers know what I’m doing or feeling at any time. I could tweet all day if I had the time.”

Printed on Thursday, February 9, 2012 as: Despite increasing preference for brevity, blogging still strong