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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Blogs, Reading Habits, and Our Future

Blogs will drive the majority of our collective reading habits for the next few years.  Not apps (unless they link to blogs), not magazines, books, newspapers, general websites (without a blog), etc.  While people will continue to read books, published reports, and Facebook status updates, their main source of up-to-the-minute searchable news and personal musings will remain the blog.  Facebook status updates will come in as a close second, however, it is hard to cover the enormity of a story like the tsunami in Japan with 420-characters.

Most Americans don't have the time, inclination, or attention span to read an entire book from cover to cover. According to a study done by The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in 2007, Americans spend two hours a day watching television and seven minutes reading, on average.  The chairman for the NEA when the study was published, Dana Gioia, told NPR News that the "deciding factor in who reads and who doesn't is not socioeconomic status," but rather, "how many books can be found in a family's home."  In 2011 and beyond, that factor is likely to change to the amount of computers, tablets, eReaders, and smartphones found in a family's home.

Technorati, the search engine for searching blogs, issues an annual report with the latest being The State of the Blogosphere 2010 (SOTB).  The results from the survey of bloggers found that "compared with other media, blogs outpace other social media and many traditional media in terms of generating consumer recommendations and purchases," which was reflected by "the steady increasing levels of brands engaging with the blogosphere." As we all know from television commercials to classified ads, advertising pays for media content.  If consumers look to blogs before making purchases, companies will pay bloggers to generate content with advertising revenue.  The study also found that more bloggers than ever are making money from their blogs.

Blogs are generating curated, current and searchable content around conversations.  Businesses are finally participating in the new medium.  If you consider yourself a professional, public figure, or expert in your field, a blog is the best way to become known as a thought leader.  While many professionals worry that blogging may lead to liability issues or employee termination, ultimately, the future of your field depends on your participation in these online conversations.

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