Theory: It’s the reader, not the publishing tool

Plug one: There’s a report making its way around the internet that says the youth are spending less time blogging. Specifically, “28% of the two groups studied — teens 12 to 17 and young adults 18 to 29 — actively blogged.” For 2009, this percentage has dropped off to only 14% of teens and 15% of young adults. The author attributes this drop to a rise in the use of Facebook.

Plug two: Marshall Kirkpatrick floated a related idea the other day that Facebook is now the world’s leading news reader. There are at least a few reasons: Facebook has the largest, most active user base on the planet, Facebook gives you control over who has access to your content which leads to a greater willingness to share, and Facebook wraps the whole creation/consumption experience into a nice, easy to use interface.

That last point is the most critical, in my opinion. As average Joe, it’s much, much easier to publish with Facebook (or Twitter) because there is tremendous attention paid to the experience of how content is consumed on a regular basis. Both Facebook and Twitter have dedicated dashboards for your subscriptions where you get visual reinforcement that other people are coming across your content. With my blog, I have a home page which my dad or mom might read occasionally, and X number of faceless RSS subscribers who may or may not “Mark All As Read” on a daily basis. Figuring out how to use Google Reader to read other blogs almost requires the scientific method, which could be a good thing if you consider yourself a geek but is almost certainly a bad thing if you’re a Normal just wanting to read the national news and your friends’ writing.

Moral of the story: Always take studies with a grain of salt. I suspect The Youth are publishing more than ever, but it’s coming in the form of Facebooking and Tumblring instead of maintaining a blog because the proprietary tools, unfortunately, have better readers right now than the open source ones.

Related to this, I’m hoping to take Ryan Sholin’s lead and write more on my original home space. It’s a muscle I think I need to exercise. I’m also going to take Gruber’s lead and turn off comments because I get way too many comment notifications like, “Hi, cool blog, just curious what spam system you use for cleaning up comments because I am getting so many spammers on my blog.”

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