What is the nature of this beast, though? How is in changing? What shape will the blogosphere take in 2007 and years to come? These are all questions at or near the forefront of the public consciousness as we look upon another year with trepid anticipation.
Offering an analytical (and satirical) look at the blogosphere is Hugh MacLeod over at the Gaping Void blog. He offers up 41 observations, both professional and casual, that bloggers should take note of in reference to their creations. There are just a few that I would like to highlight:
1. The First Rule of Blogging: "Blogs don't write themselves."
6. Blogging is a great way to make things happen indirectly.
There are two purposes that come to mind when creating a blog. First, it's a great place to speak your mind and deliver a message. Second, it's also a rallying point that can and should be used to spur readers to do something in response to the message (even if it's just a comment).
To get a clear message out, it takes an unwavering commitment on the part of the blogger to keep talking, talking, and talking some more until someone starts listening. Then, once there is an audience with an available ear, the focus can then be shifted from knowledge to action.
24. You think A-Listers are arrogant bastards? You should meet the B-List.
25. There is no A-List. If you think there is, you've missed the whole point.
26. There is an A-List. F**k with us and we'll have you destroyed like stray dogs.
These comments are made tongue in cheek, but there is a lot of truth behind them as well. The point here is that A-List bloggers didn't achieve that status by trying to be A-List bloggers. Instead, you have a situation where intelligent people who communicate well and have insight into various industries have been fortunate enough to gain a following because of their particular talents.
So if you want to be an A-List blogger, stop trying to be an A-List blogger. And for goodness sake don't start spewing venom at guys like Robert Scoble because you're jealous of his success, otherwise you're going to get buried quicker than an ex-Mobster turned snitch, suddenly sporting a less-than-trendy pair of cement sneakers.
Understanding the nature of the blogosphere is only half the battle, however. One also has to grasp its significance in a visionary capacity, seeing the reality as well as the potential intertwined within this particular communication platform.
Darren Rowse at ProBlogger has some very interesting thoughts about the future of the blogosphere, particularly for the upcoming year. Some of his assertions may be less grounded in fact than others, but the far-seeing approach is what's most important here. Darren does, however, make an excellent point concerning the future of blog monetization:
RSS - everyone is predicting how RSS will go mainstream this year with it's integration into Vista and other services but I'm not seeing too many people write about how this will impact bloggers. It's going to take a bit of a mind shift for some of us who monetize our blogs via people actually visiting our blogs.
Bloggers are going to have to come to terms with the way news readers will impact not only how they present their blogs but also how readers interact with them (via comments for example). As a result I think we'll see new services develop to help not only monetize RSS better but also how to get people actually interacting with content.
What Dave Winer thinks about monetizing RSS, especially since he's been so vocal about the patent applications that Microsoft has filed regarding RSS aggregation technology. In any event, keep an eye on the blogosphere in 2007; it could be in for a huge metamorphosis.