In last Tuesday’s presidential debates, moderator Tom Brokaw asked the candidates a difficult question: will the economy get worse before it gets better? Arguably, it is the President’s job to inspire confidence in our financial system, not to deliver candid investment advice. Unfortunately, such cheerleading amounts to a tax on the credulous buy-and-hold investor, favoring those who better understand the political game.
As I skimmed Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere 2008 report yesterday, I was reminded of McCain and Obama’s earlier performances. Technorati’s investigation reveals that bloggers are “savvy and sophisticated,” and their daily output is “integral to the media ecosystem.”
Technorati, in case you didn’t know, is a blog aggregation service, whose business is built upon the free content we bloggers create. Like our presidential candidates, it is not necessarily in Technorati’s best interest to provide a frank assessment of our future. So let me provide my own frank assessment.
The Bearish Perspective
Looking back over the past five years, the blogging explosion has roughly matched the runaway expansion of credit. And like our economy, the blogosphere is poised to undergo a serious “correction” over the next 12 months.
How do Technorati’s blogging statistics support this theory? 47% of bloggers earn less than $50,000 per year. The average blog is three years old, and has never seen a bear market. The mean blogging income is low (in fact, too low for Technorati to include in their report). The most popular stated reason for blogging is “personal expression”.
From the State of the Blogosphere 2008 report
In the grand scheme of things, most people would consider blogging a trivial pursuit. Looking forward, how many of us will continue to devote the necessary time and effort to maintain a blog? How many of us can afford to do so?
Technorati’s data, I believe, implies an imminent contraction of the blogosphere. My own anecdotal observations—less frequent updates on some of my favorite sites—seem to confirm it.
History shows that extreme economic conditions support political extremism. Hyperinflation in Germany contributed to the rise of Adolf Hitler, who used the Jewish people as a scapegoat for the nation’s difficulties. If such a figure were to rise to power today, he would undoubtedly search our blogs—our conveniently accessible and revealing online diaries—for “incriminating evidence”. This is a powerful argument for un-publishing and self-censorship as a means of self-preservation.
In summary, the state of the blogosphere is likely to get worse before it gets better. Some of the blogs you currently enjoy reading may be abandoned soon, and others may disappear from the Web entirely. Have you made a backup copy?
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Hat tip to Striking Thoughts.