As blogs become more a part of mainstream media, I sometimes wonder where blogging will be 10 years from now. Will they evolve to become magazine-style content sites, or will we outgrow them like we did the Gopher protocol? Will they become more commercial entities, or will blogs always be a tool with which one person can amplify their voice and make a difference?
Regardless of where blogs end up, some blogs won’t be here 10 years from now. In fact, some estimate that 60%-80% of blogs are abandoned within 1 month of their start. You’d think that big, established blogs would be sure to find a way to survive no matter how the blogging industry evolves.
But just like anything else, some will close, get shut down, or go out of business – just like these 9 blogs below.
With the Olympics in full swing in Beijing, it has been no secret that the Chinese government has been cracking down on controlling their image in front of a world audience. Sohoxiaobao, a popular Chinese blogging site, has been shut down in the run-up to the events, though for now they ‘claim’ they will reopen after the games.
The translation of what can be found at Sohoxiaobao.com today says:
Notice of SOHO Xiaobao’s temporary closure
Due to lack of self-discipline of the part of a few netizens in posting sensitive information to their former blogs not in accordance with the discussion requirements, SOHO Xiaobao is temporarily closed. We are currently in the process of applying to have it reopened.
Service has now stopped; all data will be saved, and usage will resume upon further notice. Thank you everyone for your understanding and support!
At the same time, everyone is asked, in their care for SOHO Xiaobao, to be cautious of what they write during the Olympic period, and the posting of illegal information is strictly forbidden.
July 18, 2008
Creating Passionate Users
Many people may not remember the absolutely kick-ass blog that was Creating Passionate Users. Author Kathy Sierra wrote about usability, marketing, and branding from the perspective of the consumer – her writing was phenomenal, and her illustrations became her trademark. She also held a spot in the Technorati top 50 blogs, and was a frequent conference speaker in the usually male-dominated tech field.
But in March of 2007, Kathy was cyber-attacked and started receiving death threats. In response, she shut down her blog and stopped speaking at conferences. In fact, Robert Scoble shut down his blog for a week in support of her decision. But in the end, bullies won and both we and Kathy lost an incredibly wonderful blog.
Kaboom: A Soldier’s War Journal
Lieutenant G – or LT G – is in the US Army fighting in Iraq. Until recently, he was chronicling his war experience on a Blogspot blog, Kaboom. He was usually quite candid about his experiences. Unfortunately, that candor got him in trouble, and he was ordered to stop writing. In his last post, he explains:
Due to a rash posting on my part, and decisions made above my pay-grade, I have been ordered to stop posting on Kaboom, effective immediately. Though I committed no OPSEC violations, due to a series of extenuating circumstances – the least of which was me being on leave – my “The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide is Press Coverage” post on May 28 did not go through the normal vetting channels. It’s totally on me, as it was too much unfiltered truth. I’m a soldier first, and orders are orders. So it is.
Know More Media
Not just a blog, but a blog network of over 100 blogs, Know More Media (KMM) recently ended operations. They do hope to reorganize and revive the business someday, but the closure sent waves through the blogosphere as people realized that blog networks aren’t all they are cracked up to be.
KMM made the mistake of having too many eggs in one basket – and when slapped with a penalty from Google, they found they could not recover. While I was personally very sad that it happened, I do hope it was a good lesson for other online publishers to ensure they didn’t rely on any one source of traffic or income to pay the mortgage.
When a huge blogger stops blogging, it’s a big deal. When Jason Calacanis announced his retirement from blogging, it was one of the biggest deals of all. Jason’s action was more of a statement than anything else. He felt like blogging had changed so much since he started that he didn’t want to be a part of it anymore:
The “a-list” pressure, the TechMeme leaderboard debates, and constant accusations of link-baiting are now too much of a distraction… Today the blogosphere is so charged, so polarized, and so filled with haters hating that it’s simply not worth it. I’d rather watch from the sidelines and be involved in a smaller, more personal, conversation.
While I agree that blogging has drastically changed – even since I started a little over 2 years ago – I wasn’t a part of the TechMeme world (Ok, I was. Once). So I haven’t faced the haters that Jason mentions. Today he instead is running a private mailing list… I’m not so sure about the logistics of that decision, but I do give him credit for doing something to maintain contact with his readers.
William Patry’s Copyright Blog
William Patry has been blogging for a long time – longer, in fact, than he has been with his current employer. But that didn’t stop most people from associating his views with his company’s views – and when you work for a company like Google, that is indeed a difficult position to be in.
But that wasn’t the only reason William quit blogging – while recognized as a leading expert on copyright law, he was finding that his topic, once a source of passion – had become depressing.
Copyright law has abandoned its reason for being: to encourage learning and the creation of new works. Instead, its principal functions now are to preserve existing failed business models, to suppress new business models and technologies, and to obtain, if possible, enormous windfall profits from activity that not only causes no harm, but which is beneficial to copyright owners. Like Humpty-Dumpty, the copyright law we used to know can never be put back together again: multilateral and trade agreements have ensured that, and quite deliberately.
It is profoundly depressing, after 26 years full-time in a field I love, to be a constant voice of dissent.
It doesn’t take Olympic games to get China riled up. Five little letters usually do the trick: T-I-B-E-T. Tsering Woeser, a Tibetan who has been an outspoken critic of the Chinese occupation of her country, used to post articles and poems to her Woeser Blog. In 2006, Chinese officials contacted her hosting company and the blogs were shut down. And as recently as 2008, she and her husband Wang Lixiong were under house arrest in Beijing after speaking to reporters.
There are conflicting reports as to whether Woeser has been able to resurrect her old writings on a new blog. While Woeser.org is coming up dead, as recently as May of this year, it was reported as being live. There does seem to be live, recent content at Woeser.Middle-Way.net, but since it is all in Chinese, I can’t confirm that she is officially ‘back’.
In 2004, Jessica Cutler, a former aide to Sen. Mike DeWine, Ohio Republican, created a blog to keep a few friends up-to-date on her ‘social life’. Turns out her social life included juggling a sexual relationship with 6 different men, one of whom was Robert Steinbuch. At the time, Steinbuch was the general counsel to Senator DeWine on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
In 2006, Ana Marie Cox of Wonkette outed the affair – of course followed by the expected resignations, firings, and embarassments. And not surprisingly, her blog quickly vanished. Even less surprisingly, Steinbuch filed a $20MM lawsuit against her. The lawsuit is being eyed closely by online privacy groups because it could establish if online bloggers are obligated to protect the privacy of those they name in their online diaries.
ThinkSecret was founded in 1998 as an Apple/Mac rumor site. I’m sure that Apple was just waiting for the opportunity to quiet the site, which they found in 2004. The site leaked information about the Mac Mini and the iWork productivity suite prior to the official announcement at MacWorld.
Apple sued for “posting Apple trade secrets and encouraging and inducing persons to provide product information in breach of agreements.” Site author Nick Ciarelli and Apple reached a ‘confidential settlement’ in late 2007 which included the dismantling of the ThinkSecret website.
Apple and Think Secret have settled their lawsuit, reaching an agreement that results in a positive solution for both sides. As part of the confidential settlement, no sources were revealed and Think Secret will no longer be published. Nick Ciarelli, Think Secret’s publisher, said “I’m pleased to have reached this amicable settlement, and will now be able to move forward with my college studies and broader journalistic pursuits.”
Sounds like they paid him off to me*. 🙂
*Pure speculation. Please don’t come after me, Apple.