The Next Era of Tech Blogging: 3 Things That Could Make it Better

16 Comments 12.27.11

Leading tech and marketing analyst Jeremiah Owyang wrote a blog post today that has inspired some interesting conversation; he argues that with the recent departure of a number of the key big names in tech blogging from their posts, the Golden Age of Tech Blogging has passed and it’s a new era. He cites my leaving RWW among others, though I haven’t entirely left. (I’m just focused on building killer research mega-tool PlexusEngine.)

Many people believe that no such change is happening, either. There’s a continuum of constant change, but tech blogging has never really been about just TechCrunch, Mushable and ReadWriteWeb. There are many other important tech blogs, always have been and always will be. ReadWriteWeb 2.0 is going to rock, too, by the way.

Either way, things are certainly changing. There are opportunities for new blogs and bloggers to rise into leadership positions. I thought I’d take a few minutes and offer three bits of advice about things I think could help make the new era of tech blogging even better than the last one. I just think these things would be nice.

Outbound Links

It’s sad that so few tech blog posts add the kind of value that can be added by including links to high quality off-site resources. It’s ok to send readers away, they’ll appreciate the pointers and they’ll come back. Some of the biggest sites on the web just aggregate links to other sites – why not combine that form of value with original content on blogs? Not only are the links valuable for readers, the research required to assemble those links is a big value add as well. Compiling research and links to other sites is a fine art. I know everybody wants to see more of this. Who on earth would believe that a single blog post’s author knows everything a reader wants to know about a topic?

This isn’t just a matter of principle, either. Outbound links can be good for search engine traction, though that’s not 100% clear and it’s not clear how much weight they carry relative to inbound links. As Google’s Maile Ohye said several years ago, “Thoughtful outbound links also help your credibility because it shows that you’ve done your research and have expertise in the subject manner. You visitors may therefore want to come back for more analysis on future topics.”

Research, Including on Company Founders

One of the things I learned from Michael Arrington when at TechCrunch is that it’s always important to look at the backgrounds of founders of companies you’re writing about. Almost no one does that anymore though, I too often forget myself, but it’s so often a missing part of the whole story!

As VC Roger Ehrenberg once wrote, “There can be tremendous inefficiencies as founders ascend the learning curve, especially in areas that are not necessarily related to or interesting given the founders’ backgrounds.” Conversely, a founder’s background experience indicates the ways in which they are most likely to be particularly efficient.

The time and pageview pressure these days leads to short blog posts based on little more than the first impression of the blogger was left with after looking at a website themselves. It’s like the what, the why and the when of a news story gets adressed but the who gets too little attention.

Platform Implications

One of the things I have learned from Richard MacManus at ReadWriteWeb is that news is always more interesting when you adress the long-term platform implications of anything. When might a certain app, trend or news development make possible in the future? That’s one of the most exciting parts of the story.

A contrary perspective is that, as investor Rob Go has written, the word Platform could be “the most meaningless and overused phrase that entrepreneurs and investors try to use to make companies seem more important than they are.” Maybe, but from a journalistic and analytical perspective, thinking about companies as parts of trends, which will hopefully lead to future opportunities, seems like something that can never be a bad idea.

Maybe all of this is just a way to say “I think tech blogging should be more like the way I like to do tech blogging. But these three ideas sure would help make the next era of tech blogging even better, I think. Maybe no more listicles, too. (Blog posts with numbered lists! Ha!)

Related: How to Quit Your Day Job and Become a Professional Tech Blogger

For what it’s worth, I should mention that all the outbound links in this post were added lickety-split with the help of Plexus Engine. Sign up now for beta notification – it’s coming along really well!


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  • http://massimofarina.com/ Massimo

    Well said Marshall. The part on outbound links resonated with me, and likely with others. Internal linking has become so annoying for the reader these days, especially when blogs link using the name of the company or startup they are covering. When we click on a link of a company name, we do not want to be redirected to a tag archive of posts, or another story on that startup. Send us to the source! It lends credibility and doesn’t make the blog editor seem like a complete douche.
    Looking forward to giving PlexusEngine a spin.

    Best,
    Massimo

  • Karmely

    hello! Am looking for information and communication technology, I like reading about what the blogger says.
    when reading his songs helped me an my career but I hope to learn more of their knowledge.
    since I’m new at this, but with all the desire to learn more …

  • http://coolcatteacher.blogspot.com coolcatteacher

    I think that this post covers it very well. The golden age of blogging is not over as long as there are people who are willing to write well and link to other sources. I think that these behemoth blogging platforms should consider one important thing: that only 1% of users (according to Klossner’s theory of social networking) share most of the content. Those users are the type of people who want outbound links to original sources and who shun prepackaged same-old same-old content. If we see that a website is only linking to itself then we shy away from that. This is why ebook readers have taken off: because those who read a lot of books are moving towards the devices not because everyone has. The influence of the “mavens” as shared in Outliers shouldn’t be underestimated. I do think that a lot of opportunity abounds.

    Additionally, the question is if people are really reading content or if the SEO is just taking clicks there. A good blogger cares if people read and wants to interact with readers. Someone who is just selling advertising only cares about clicks.

    I think there is opportunity for those who do well. Maybe the “gold age” of the mass market blogging is over, however, I would say that the age of the niche-blogs are just emerging with those who target a specific market doing well.

    Thank you for reflecting on this. I’ve missed your voice so much. I know you’re working hard but your take on things is just so different and spot-on.

    Good luck with your new endeavors. Your friends follow you here and are reading.

  • http://plexusengine.com/ Marshall Kirkpatrick

    Thank you Vicki!

  • http://www.readwriteweb.com Richard MacManus

    Interesting thoughts Marshall and thanks for the kind words!

  • http://socialwayne.com Wayne Sutton

    Great points as always Marshall… #techbloggerforlife

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  • http://technbiz.blogspot.com paramendra

    The next era is about to begin.

  • Brandon Pope

    This was a very interesting article. I am interested in what the next era of bloggers actually has to offer additionally than today’s cream of the crop? What advances do you think can be made? I just see everyone becoming more connected(even globally, now) because the technology keeps advancing at a phenomenal rate. I am BRAND NEW to blogging and just started my first blog, and I analyze everything I see in this world and finally wanted to start sharing my knowledge and experiences. It’s nothing much now, but I will continue to write and improve. Come check me out @ http://www.anothermarketblog.blogspot.com Thank you

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Z7ZH6NI4LYQYWYS7RVP7HP3X4A Linda

    I enjoyed and learned much from this site. Glad I found it today and took the time to leave my e-mail address so I continue to get information.

    Plan to develop a blog eventually; but have lots to learn before I can.

  • http://twitter.com/semil Semil

    I particularly like your point about looking at the founders/team. So much of any outcome is dependent on the people driving it, great point and reminder.

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  • Anonymous

    Great advice, since I like your writing and I am eager to see the Plexus solution (mind that I use solution, not a tool, not a service and not a platform) I would like to give you simple advice as well: Drop the tool, platform, app BS. If you want Plexus to succeed, market it entirely as a solution! Do you solve a problem – yes, so what are you waiting for :)

    Best

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  • http://www.technocrews.com/ William RAHI

    Well said Marshall. The part on outbound links resonated with me, and likely with others. Inward linking has become so annoying for the reader these days, especially when blogs bond using the name of the set or startup they are integument. When we clink on a bond of a set name, we do not want to be redirected to a tag archive of posts, or another record on that startup. Project us to the beginning! It lends credibleness and doesn’t make the blog reviser and corrector seem like a thorough douche.
    Looking forward to giving PlexusEngine a twist.