Wired's Paul Boutin thinks blogging is over. “Scroll down Technorati's list of the top 100 blogs and you'll find personal sites have been shoved aside by professional ones. Most are essentially online magazines: The Huffington Post, Engadget, and TreeHugger. A stand-alone commentator can't keep up with a team of pro writers cranking out up to 30 posts a day." While I should be thankful that this august Condé Nast publication acknowledges us as "pros" (did they not used to refer to us as losers hacking away in our pyjamas?) I won't gloat about this, I will just point out that he is completely wrong. Smaller blogs thrive in niches and feed the big blogs; I could not get through a day without standing on the shoulders of Preston or Justin or Harry or Jill. Furthermore, blogging is changing and evolving; in the words of Randy Bachman, you ain't seen nothing yet.
A great example is what is happening at the Re-imagining Cities conference in Philadelphia next week.
"This ground-breaking symposium has been organized to address the role of urban design in the face of one of the most profound and important challenges facing global society: the need to re-imagine and rethink how cities are designed and organized in a future without the plentiful and abundant oil upon which prosperous urban economies have been built."
Which is an interesting topic, and has attracted a list of speakers well known to TreeHugger readers, including Elizabeth Kolbert, Bill Dunster, Stephen Kieran, Andy Revkin, Witold Rybczynski, Alex Steffen and lots more; those are just the ones that I could find gratuitous TreeHugger links to.
But what is relevant to this post is the fact that the Rockefeller Foundation and the University of Pennsylvania are bringing in a gaggle of us to live-blog the conference on The Next American City. They are treating the blog as a different kind of medium- not live video coverage and not a carefully considered academic review after the fact, but that crazy hybrid of traditional writing and instant delivery that blogs can be. They have gathered some of the best:
Ryan Avent from Grist
Nate Berg, Planetizen
Andrew Blum, Wired
Randy Crane, Urban Planning Research
Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson Metropolis Magazine
Daina Lind, Next American City
and me to cover this conference.
Blogging isn't over, it's barely got started. While our comments may not be as well thought out or as well edited as a newspaper or magazine article that has the benefit of a couple of hours consideration would, they will be a lot more immediate, perhaps more passionate and who knows, with such an interesting and talented gang of writers, demonstrate a new model for using the medium.