There has been an interesting discussion triggered by Mark Valladares and picked up by Alex Marsh, Jonathan Calder and Nick Barlow* (who wins the prize for best tag, surely) about the state of Liberal Democrat blogging. There’s much good in their posts, and the comments on them, so rather than repeat what has already been said, I’ll just add two new-ish points.
First, a consolidation from a large number of creators to a smaller number is a common feature of what happens when technology matures, even if it is technology that initially provided a much more open and equal playing field. Hence the emergence of a small number of dominant newspapers from the flourishing of options that printing technology originally permitted. Hence too the emergence and dominance in their niches of initiatives such as Wikipedia and Linux in the internet world. Both have seen a similar consolidation around themselves and narrowing of the field.
The same picture applies in political blogging with (my former home) Lib Dem Voice, LabourList and ConHome being those around who the concentration has taken place. Not inevitable, but pretty likely given the prevalence of such trends on so many other occasions.
Second, what has happened to readership? Judging by the weekly figures published on Lib Dem Voice, its readership is up by around 50%-100% compared to this time in the last Parliament and it was, relatively speaking, pretty big back then too.
I don’t know the readership of other Lib Dem blogs, but on a really good week, this site now sometimes has a higher readership than Lib Dem Voice (though usually it is lower) and its readership over this Parliament has more than doubled and doubled again (thank you!). I would be very surprised if there were not other Lib Dem bloggers with strongly growing readership too.
That makes me suspect that readership of Lib Dem blog may well be up overall. What’s in decline is the number of different authors of blogs rather than the audience. Hearing a diversity of voices is important, so the former does not cancel out the latter, but it does give it a different context, especially given the ability social media gives people to respond to posts with agreement, anger, insight or contradictory evidence without having to “blog” themselves.
P.S. In the posts linked to above several people have mentioned the demise of Google Reader, which I was a great fan of too. After a few false starts with other feed readers, I’m now enjoying using Feedly even more than I used to like Google Reader. I highly recommend it.
* At time of writing. Apologies if I’ve missed anyone who posted between me writing and publishing this.