The changing landscape of blogging

What? My Technorati Authority rating is down to 188? Wait? How? It was at 198 just hours ago? To make matters worse it was at 251 in June.

What happened? Where did all the links go?

Don’t worry…I have a theory…here me out.

First of all please do not think that I am all hung up on my ranking within the edublog community. No, I just find the whole thing fascinating. So here’s my thought.

Technorati Authority is based on the incoming links to your blog over the past 6 months. Meanings every day you drop a day and add a day to maintain your 6 months of incoming links. From that and some other data like who those links are coming from it figures out what your Authority is.

Technorati Authority is the number of blogs linking to a website in the last six months. The higher the number, the more Technorati Authority the blog has.

So why over the past 6 months have I seen a falling tend in my authority ranking?

First…it’s not just me.

Using Scott McLeod’s Top 50 P-12 Edublogs posted in June 2008. I went back to see how other blogers authority rankings have been doing.

Cool Cat Teacher Blog: June 2008=550         Nov 2008=430

2 Cents Worth: June 2008=559          Nov. 2008=404

Stephen’s Web: June 2008=708     Nov. 2008=620

Weblogg-ed: June 2008=897      Nov. 2008=604

Dangerously Irrelevant: June 2008=413     Nov. 2008=310

What the heck happened? Why, across the board everyone has dropped in authority?

So I started thinking…what happened about 6 to 8 months ago that changed? What happened to bloggers and blogging? Why are there less people linking to blog posts and reflecting on them? Has the writing gotten worse? Or has something changed?

One word!

Twitter.com

Like it or not Twitter has changed the way we communicate. Twitter has taken all those links that we use to put on our blogs and has shifted them to a different place, to a new conversation.

I’m just as gulity as the next twitterer. I use to blog about good posts that I found. Now I just write: Great post from @? you have to read this http://?????

As I bounced this theory off of Kim and Chrissy over the last couple days it made more sense. Kim recalls going to NECC in Atlanta (two years ago) where there were only a hand full of us twittering. (There’s a picture somewhere of me hacking a flatscreen to put twitter on a TV at the blogger’s cafe). That was about 24 months ago. I would say somewhere around 10 to 12 months ago the dam broke and twitter for educators hit mainstream. Somewhere around 8 to 10 months ago educators started to shift the conversation. Started using twitter as a place for links and personal conversations and blogs became the well thought out personal posts.

Start looking at blog posts. Very few anymore refer to something another blogger wrote. Most link to a blogger about something they did, a project they are working on together, but very few blog posts reflecting on what other bloggers wrote.

I don’t think it’s a bad thing, I just think the landscape of what blogging is, is changing.

Add to that the fact that bloggers are blogging less because they are twittering more we end up with less blog content to actually read and link to therefore once again driving down the links coming and leaving blogs.

So where does this all lead?

Teacher: “So should I start a blog, or get involved in Twitter?”

Answer: Both!

13 Comments

  1. Hi Jeff,
    You might have a point! Your post reminds me a little bit of Clay’s post back in April. Lots of people responding to that post in the comments — the best part — disagreed with him, myself included, but now perhaps you have a point. I don’t, as of yet, see blogs and RSS as being “dead” like Clay prophesied, but yes– the landscape is changing. Will microblogging take over? Will we only ever be able to read 140 characters at a time in the future? (Scary thought!)

    • I don’t think we’ll see blogs go away any time soon. Instead I think we’ll see a change in how they are used and viewed….and most of it for the better. Microblogging will take over the conversation piece and blogging will become a thought engine. Great example of this is I have had 5 people twitter me already to say “great post” those would have been comments before to the post, but now they are just passing complements.

      Blogging = Big Ideas
      Twitter = Conversation

      ?

      • My 26 yr. old son said that he is convinced that the internet is starting to grow up, learning to use its amazing power more effectively. I think that blogging, especially when combined with Twitter, is doing the same thing. For me, there was a process, similar to what Lorna wrote about, of growing myself into the collaboration that goes on between the two.

        I started out lurking on Twitter, using it to simply find links to tools and interesting blogs; then I began to join the conversation on a regular basis. I only follow edtech or history people, and I learned and shared a lot. Then I started my blog. Without my PLN, I am not sure who would be reading it. As it is, it is still very new, but it is part of my maturing along with the ways that we use the internet and its tools.

        I agree with your idea that blogs are for Big Ideas and Twitter is for conversation.

        Thanks for the ideas!

  2. I wrote yesterday on my blog about how much Twitter means to me and my PLN. I even gave you shout-out. I think the more personal nature of Twitter really helps a lot, because even if your blog is in my feed reader and I read all your posts, it’s more meaningful a lot of times to see you online chatting and know I can say something back as need be, or have you answer a question I might ask the general crowd.

    It’s also great for those of us who don’t have the heavy-hitter blogs like you, because way more people will read my Tweets than read my blog posts. I don’t even bother asking questions of people on my blog, because there aren’t many responses, but if I want to get people’s opinions, chances are good that I’ll get a few quickly on Twitter.

    • I think you’re right Dan. I think twitter has “flattened” the voices of edubloggers. I get tweets from people I don’t even know…whether they are a blogger or not. I use Twitter as a wider network (not that this is the right way to do it, just my way). I follow everyone I can find who puts ‘education’ or related field in their bio. I also follow other people who I am interested in. I’m up to 1600+ there is no way I could follow that many well thought out blog posts and bloggers. It’s a different conversation and it allows all of us to quickly build an audience.

  3. Jeff-
    Thanks for the thought-provoking posting here.

    Teacher: “So should I start a blog, or get involved in Twitter?”
    Answer: Both!

    Wow…this is a tough one these days…as I work in an IT-related Teaching & Learning Group within a smaller college in the U.S.

    I’m trying to develop a game plan for how to handle the situation where we are trying to drink from a firehose. That is, with 2500+ tools out there, which ones do we select? Which ones do we encourage teachers, professors, instructors to use? By the time they learn them, we’re right back knocking on the door with yet another tool.

    I should say that I am not on Twitter…and the reason that I’m not is that I get interrupted too much as it is. Most of our faculty don’t use Twitter…many of them are just finding out about the power of using blogs/RSS feeds.

    Question/issue:
    How do we keep from continually dividing/splittling off conversations?

    I don’t have the answers…but whereas I realize we need to be using multiple tools as technologists, that is not such an easy sell to get faculty, teachers, instructors on board with using yet more tools…

    Anyway, nice posting Jeff. Thanks for the thoughts.

    Dan Christian
    link to calvin.edu

    • Ah….I feel another blog post coming on. Thanks for your thoughts and I’ll give my opinion on these questions in a blog post in the coming days.

  4. Actually I believe the issue is more likely that technorati is having trouble indexing links. Would love to have an article that explains their issues however I’m just basing it on gut feeling. One of the professional bloggers reported that in October Technorati did something strange with their index and their blog ranking dropped dramatically. That is also what I’ve been noticing across the board for all edubloggers.

    Here is an explanation from Technorati as to why their indexing changed in October.

    • I agree something has changed, but the trend has been falling since last February. This site was has high at 280ish at one time and it’s been a steady decline has twitter has made a steady increase in edublogger traffic. I do think there is something wrong with Technorati though as The Thinking Stick dropped from 198 to 188 in 24 hours. It’s almost like the stock market. 😉

  5. My take on this discussion would be you are reflecting on “am I making a difference? a contribution? If I am wrong, disregard what I have to say.

    I maintain my connection to twitter for selfish reasons. I can lurk and take what I need from other people’s experiences and not do much else other than read great bloggers great posts and use what I need. I recommend Twitter for new folks for that reason. It doesn’t take long for the infectious good spirit of a personal learning network “giving” to the blogosphere till folks want to take part in another way. Assimilate – internalize and practice. We all know people learn by doing. Then the “both” part takes over.

    It is interesting to read your observations about a personal networks and what is happening in the blogosphere. I can understand why you are using Technorati to substantiate your point but I would like to add my thoughts on Technorati.

    To me, Technorati isn’t measure of the value and power of a blog an indication that you are making a difference.

    I personally get more out of this kind of experience – When you find people you don’t know – you have never heard of – and they are finding you online, seeking you out and asking you questions – you know right away that your blog has made a difference. Your thought provoking post is proof. Unless you are in this for making money. I’d drop Technorati from you vocabulary.

    • I agree non of this has to do whether or not you are making a difference, I think it just shows a shift in conversations and that just when we think we know what it means to blog….something like Twitter comes along and makes us rethink our conversations.

  6. In addition to sharing via Twitter, I recently realized that I’m also using Google Reader’s “Share with Note” feature as a quick way of reflecting/sharing.

    Analyzing change is interesting, isn’t it?

  7. I think that tweets and posts are very different. I expect that there will be far fewer links’ posts than there used to be. Those will be on Twitter.

    But blog posts offer depth as well as breadth and I don’t think they are going to go away.

    Twitter is a far more social network (or so it appears to me) with people following people rather than the subject matter so much. Perhaps Twitter is where more people will become microcelebrities. Tweets are the narratives where the focus is on the character.

    But when the focus is on the topic, it seems to me that Twitter is not as useful.

    Of course, while I have been blogging for six years, I’m brand new at Twitter.

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