Gartner recently came out with a new report with company’s top 10 predictions for 2007. I haven’t seen the report (it costs $995) but their press release does a good job of summarizing the predictions:
Blogging and community contributors will peak in the first half of 2007. Given the trend in the average life span of a blogger and the current growth rate of blogs, there are already more than 200 million ex-bloggers. Consequently, the peak number of bloggers will be around 100 million at some point in the first half of 2007.
Could blogging be near the peak of its popularity? The technology gurus at Gartner Inc. believe so. One of the research company’s top 10 predictions for 2007 is that the number of bloggers will level off in the first half of next year at roughly 100 million worldwide.
The reason: Most people who would ever dabble with Web journals already have. Those who love it are committed to keeping it up, while others have gotten bored and moved on, said Daryl Plummer, chief Gartner fellow.
“A lot of people have been in and out of this thing,” Plummer said. “Everyone thinks they have something to say, until they’re put on stage and asked to say it.”
That’s no knock on blogging. Plummer noted that this leveling-off dynamic plays out all the time, though it often comes as a bit of a surprise when it hits things that had achieved quick popularity.
Tony Huang of Blog Herald had the following take on the report:
I’m not sure how someone so esteemed as a Gartner fellow could be so wrong about blogging. One need not need any numbers, but only simple logic to look no further than the rest of the world to see the growth of blogging.
Even if the rate of growth were to slow down in North America, the blogosphere is exploding in places such as China and India — a country of almost a billion people, where one of the official languages is English.
In fact, as the penetration of internet access and broadband access catches up to North America and Western Europe, one cannot but fathom that like a rising tide, it will influence all manner of internet activity. Including the means to provide a voice to the potentially disenfranchised, or those whose voices may not be used to the freedom of speech.
(Yes, that was a reference to blogging).
Clearly, I expect blogging to continue to take off through 2007 and beyond; the only issue is, will professional services like Gartner, or even Technorati, be able to make enough inroads into the Non-English speaking blogosphere to measure this kind of data accurately?
This is an interesting debate…Typically I don’t get involved in futuristic predictions and debates like the ones about, but this one goes right to the core of citizen journalism and web 2.0. Overall, I tend to agree with Gartner’s prediction because Blogging is hard. It take a lot of organization to create a good blog post and most people (without meaning to sound haughty or overbearing) don’t have the skill, patience or the time to sustain the effort. As a totally unscientific example, I talked to more then 10 people about blogging, at a recent TIE event in Silicon valley. All these guys are accomplished in their areas (mostly tech) and knew what blogging was but did not blog. The main reasons they cited for not blogging was that they did not fancy themselves as writers, or did not have the time to write interesting stuff.
To me, the number of blogs peaking, does not mean an end of participative citizen media. It just means, that we are going to need better technology, to enable more ad-hoc community participation, without requiring users to blog. In practical terms this means more innovations in comments, forums and bulletin board technologies to enable non-bloggers, to participate and contribute to conversation in a fruitful way.
Another factor driving this trend is that most blogs need to focus on a particular topic, to sustain readers interest. This means, that if a bloggers wants to participate in a discussion, outside their blog topic, they will need to participate as a non-blogger.
I suspect based on these new innovations we will see the emergence of a different community of users – the on-line citizens (as opposed to bloggers) – who participate in various online communities on an ad-hoc basis. Active participants in these communities will be grass root inflencers in their respective (local) communities. Of course, these participants will be very important to their respective communities as key sounding boards and drivers of majority opinion. What do you guys think?