I stumbled across my Live Journal page the other day - or rather someone suggested that I stumble across it. Like so many blogs, it started up as a full flood of enthusiastic posting, quickly reduced to a more moderate data stream, and then conked out completely. "Where are the bloggers now" I ask - not only when I see pages like my very own Live Journal one, but also when I look at the various feeds we used to take on the train campaign side of things, - the "First Late Western", "Worst Great Western", "I hate First Great Western", "Third Rate Western" and "In defence of First Great Western" Blogs - not to mention "Oldfield Park Trains", "Commuter Train", "Train Fellows". Most of them have faded away.
So - where are the bloggers now?
The first thing that I think I understand is that so many projects are started in a fit of enthusiasm and not carried on through. And the second, related, is that people don't realise just how much time is take up by an activity. That's not just an on line phenomena - I understand that one in three new companies ceases trading within the first year, but the failure rate for blogs is even higher - after all, they're so cheap to set up that many are set up with little consideration.
Then [third] there's the consideration of "who reads my blog anyway" - what started off as a vanity piece has become a lonely piece. And for all the people who read a blog, only a tiny proportion actually go to the trouble to make comments - so that a blog that is
read heavily can still be a lonely vigil for the author. And handling comments has become more and more awkward over the years, as spammers use the comment mechanisms to comment on just how great their totally unrelated products are.
Fourth, the technology and systems have moved on - or rather other alternatives have become available for portions of the requirement space that were met by blogs and bloggers. You'll find me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, and I expect you'll find many ex-bloggers there, and exclusibvely there, too. They're different beasts to blogs, but they share the "anyone can publish and be in touch here" ethos / genre that Blogs started. And there are those of us who have moved much more to other forms of discussion too; I'm not sure whether forums have taken over at all from Blogs, or simply existed in parallel from the start, but they do provide an alternative and much more sociable publishing forum for Jo Public. Or if Jo Public wants his own web site, he can use a hosted site with Drupal, Joomla or one of many other content management systems which allow him to post / update without the pressure to add something "at least once a week" in order to keep his presence live(ly).
And - in the case of the rail blogs - there's a fifth reason that many of them have gone away. Their objectives were largely met! In 2005/6/7, First Great Western proposed and then provided a truely dreadful new timetable over the South West of England. Not only was the theoretic timetable awful, but it operated many levels below reliability it should have done, and the reduction of some train lengths to the extent that people were passing out as they travelled, and being left behind because the train was full ... was crass. Adding insult to injury, prices were hiked through the roof (I used to be able to do a day trip from Melksham to London for under 50 pounds, and that went up to over 100 pounds in a few months!), and people felt they weren't being listened to - "consultation" inputs resulted in changes that were the opposite of what the majority asked for, leading some cynical / conspiracy theory folks [with whom I tend to agree - too many co-incidences for them to have been wrong] to suggest that some elements of the consultation were undertaken to find out how to kill off services that FGW really didn't want to run! So it was hardly surprising that there was a whole swarm of rail related blogs from Pangbourne and Windsor, through Chippenham and Bristol to South Wales and the South West.
But times HAVE changed. First Great Western was recently voted the "most improved operator". Granted, that was by an industry body that's self-promoting, I suspect ... and that they were bound to be the MOST improved because they had been so awful in the past. But I've also found that they're far more responsive now in how they listen to their passengers - people feel less like cattle and more like customers. There's something of a gap in those improvements in Wiltshire, where service remain 60% cut, prices doubled, and yet again yesterday we were left with a 24 hour gap in services because of (!) "Vandalism near London". Yeah ... right!
But I digress. The question was "Where have the bloggers gone?" And the answer I came up with is "initial enthusiasm has been lost, other methods have taken over in some areas, and some causes are no longer causes". But having said all of that, there remains a valuable place for the Blog.
I may have followed the masses and let my Livejournal fade out (I will go back and add a full stop, though!), but I have consolidated my blogging activities and I still, enthusiastically, update The Horse's Mouth
on a daily basis. Because it's the right vehicle for our purposes!
Here on "The Horse's Mouth" you can read technical tips. You can see pictures. You can pick up Open Source, Railway, Chamber of Commerce stuff. The occasional whimsical thought, and a warning about online tricksters at times. You'll find opinions, information here it its own right, and links. And you can find it via Twitter or Facebook if you just want to read consildated headlines from many sources as part of your daily routine.
P.S. I guess some blogs may have stopped because people ran out of things to say. Somehow I don't see that happening to me. The pictures along side this article - if you were wondering - are all on topics that I'm hoping to write about some day, but I'll probably never get to many of them. (written 2010-06-24)
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articlesG905 - Well House Consultants - Blogging and Blog Administration 
First Jottings - (2004-08-05) 
Blog v Forum - (2004-08-07) 
Wanted: More hours in the day - (2004-08-18) 
Too technical? - (2004-12-05) 
A comment on comments - (2004-12-09) 
Blogs come of age - (2005-01-14) 
Who am I? - (2005-01-21) 
The confidence to allow public comments - (2005-02-06) 
Feedback as lifeblood - (2005-02-28) 
I'm not blogging it - (2005-03-14) 
Chicken soup without the religion - (2005-06-26) 
Moderating wiki, blog, and forum contributions - (2005-07-26) 
Horse's Mouth is a year old - (2005-08-07) 
Reading a news or blog feed (RSS) in your PHP page - (2005-08-12) 
Caching an XML feed - (2005-08-26) 
Comment, please! - (2005-11-28) 
Both ends of the animal - (2006-04-05) 
Making pages clearer - easy Disability Discrimination Act Compliance - (2006-09-23) 
One Thousand Posts and still going strong - (2006-12-18) 
In answer to 'am I glad I started a blog' ... - (2007-02-12) 
A Fresh horse - (2007-05-24) 
From spam to mod_alias - finding resources - (2009-01-05) 
2000th article - Remember the background and basics - (2009-01-18) 
Copy writing - allowing for the cut - (2009-05-21) 
Four aspects - Chamber, Transport, Courses and Hotel - (2009-10-11) 
Blogging accuracy - open invitation for any corrections - (2009-11-29) 
Microblogging services - Plurk, Twitter, Jaiku and more - (2010-01-05) 
Going off at a tangent, for a ramble - (2010-05-04) 
The legal considerations of your web presence - revisited - (2010-10-26) 
Twitter - the special use of @ # and http: in tweets - (2011-02-09) 
How to add a customised twitter feed to your site - (2011-02-27) 
Links for social media, microblogs and business networking - (2011-03-20) 
Microblogging - what I should have tweeted in the last 48 hours - (2011-11-10) 
The five oldest blogs and the horses mouth - (2012-06-09) 
9 years, and 4000 articles on - (2013-02-09) 
Has your Twitter feed stopped working? Switching to their new API - (2013-06-23) 
The Horse is back! - (2014-09-15) 
Moderation - and the tendency to over-moderate - (2015-11-02) 
The technical article feed continues - personal updates more proactive on Facebook now! - (2016-10-30)
Some other Articles
Melksham - a gem in WiltshireRuby - training for automated testing usersPerl course - is it tailored to Linux, or Microsoft Windows?A pint of Black Rat, and a lazy barmanWhere have all the bloggers gone?Python training courses for use with ESRI ArcMap softwareChancellor George Osborne inspires Perl ProgramNetiquette for forum newcomersSome more pictures ...File open and read in Perl - modernisation