The State of the Blog

The art of blogging has come to define the paradigmatic shift in the web from a content-consumption medium to a dynamic, conversational sphere where ideas can be easily shared and everyone can own their slice of the Internet. Blogs have allowed us to write, share and discuss anything and everything, and their “coolness” factor in the early days of Web 2.0 caused many corporations to adopt them as a quick, informal communication method – a way of bridging the gap between brand and consumer, much like what’s happening in the Twitter world with a multitude of “verified” accounts from brands tweeting as a means of keeping their user bases engaged.

Newspapers realised in the early days of blogs that print media and their online offerings were struggling to keep pace with emerging blogs, and if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, right? Which is what they did. However, the actual art form has come under scrutiny for whether it’s a dying medium today. Certainly, with larger print houses there is a sense that readership of content-specific blogs are dwindling, along with technological shifts, that are dictating a move away from blogging and back to more quality-focused content production (rather than the rapid-fire, continuous stream that blogging enables). In other words, content-specific blogging on news sites is not performing as well as other content, perhaps because people are choosing to consume such content from titles that are blog-first (I’m one of those people; I subscribe to numerous blogs and keep up with the world primarily through blogs rather than traditional news outlets).

I feel that blogging is an inherently personal medium. Whilst its power as a means of communicating in near-real-time with an engaged readership (and thus the ability to strengthen brands) is certainly appealing to companies, blogging has been described as “the unedited voice of a person” (by one of the form’s pioneers, Dave Winer).

This post is an example of that. I had an idea, after reading Mathew Ingram’s post on GigaOm (one of my personal favourite tech blogs) about this very topic, to discuss, with my personal opinion, the current state of the blog. Thus, this piece is a sort of stream-of-consciousness, my thoughts arranged in bits and transferred to you through the magic of the Internet and WordPress.

As an “unedited voice”, blogs offer anyone the ability to share their view of the world with the wider audience of the entire Internet. In this manner, I think that blogging will move back to basics, back to its roots as a personal medium. The growth of blogging software like WordPress, and the ease of use of such software in setting up a personal website, coupled with the rise of social media and the App Ecosystem will enable more individuals to express themselves through their own personal homes on the web. Whilst the major publishing houses like the New York Times choose to return to editorial-focused journalism citing content quality as a primary reason, blogging will continue to be the casual, conversational beast that is always has been. And this is the perfect thing that a platform of a personal nature needs.

So no, the rumours of blogging’s imminent death have been greatly exaggerated. Blogging – at least in a personal capacity – will continue to remain an approachable medium for anyone wanting to share their ideas. It will continue to prove that words and ideas have the power to change the world, allowing thousands of people each day to write, clip, share and re-post thoughts and opinions, making the collective voice of the world that much richer with each press of “Publish.”

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Why I Choose WordPress for Blogging

I’ve been blogging for a long time now. One of the things I’m asked often by aspiring bloggers and website owners is “which platform should I choose?”

We’re certainly spoilt for choice today when it comes to starting a blog. There’s a multitude of platforms to choose from, and it can be quite daunting. So I’m going to attempt to tell you why I swear by WordPress for my blogging adventures.

1: Platform connectedness. WordPress takes care of optimising my blog for all devices – mobile and desktop. I can just focus on the content, and WordPress will handle the look of Pixelated Thinking  on iPad, iPhone, Android and the plethora of other web browsers out there. And it looks pretty good too.

2: Blog from anywhere. Whilst I do use Evernote to draft posts sometimes, there’s no denying that the native WordPress app for BlackBerry and iOS is excellent. It allows me to monitor site stats, reply to comments. Oh, and even write entire posts if the inspiration strikes me when I’m out and about. Like all other things WordPress, it looks beautiful too.

3: Themes. WordPress has some awesome themes. There’s a lot to choose from (which can lead to massive procrastination), and the themes look trés professional. They just convey the feel of a stable, content-rich blog. I find Blogger (Google’s answer to WordPress and the platform I started out with back in 2007) to be a bit less to my taste; they have, however, improved their design and functionality of blogs. But I’ll still stick to WordPress thanks.

Lastly, Akismet spam protection is one of the best features. It protects my blog from the bombardment of spam comments.

If you’re considering going out into the blogging world, I truly recommend giving WordPress a try. If it’s good enough for the professionals (GigaOM, TIME), then I’m sure it’ll be perfect for you.

Why You Should Blog

Well, because it’s fun, really.

Blogging is a great hobby for anyone enthusiastic about writing. It allows you almost-instant content creation ability, and thus increases your creativity. It’s a great way to develop your writing skill, and gain feedback from a plethora of fellow bloggers and readers across the interwebs.

I’ve been blogging for many years now, and in that time, having the knowledge that I have this facility out there in cyberspace – my blog – gives me the inspiration to constantly think of ideas for what to write next. Of course, using a strong blogging platform such as WordPress helps augment the enjoyment of the whole blogging experience.

Blogging shouldn’t be seen as a stressful pursuit, but rather an enjoyable escape. I always encourage creatives to keep a blog. If anything, it can serve as a digital portfolio of your work, and a rapid-fire way to interact with like-minded people; people who care about the work you produce.

So, go forth and blog. And if you have any questions about blogging, feel free to post them in the comments below; I’ll be glad to help.