A new era in the world of online politics

The era of the highly successful solo-blogger is near - This is not to say that the death of political blogging is looming, reports Chris Bowers of MyDD.

Bowers has written an excellent post where he forecasts that the nature of the political blogosphere is shifting away from a top-down content generation model toward a bottom-up audience generated model.

In the post Apex Reached? Moving From Bloggers To Communities, Bowers suggests that he since 2005 has seen a mounting array of evidence to suggest that political blogosphere traffic has reached a plateau. According to Bowers both Gallup and Pew released data released last year strongly suggested that the daily audience of all blogs had become flat after a long period of uninterrupted growth.

“Current estimates of a daily audience of 4-5 million for progressive political blogs, and an occasional audience of up to 13-14 million for all political blogs, are now appearing in multiple sources,”.

“Despite these numbers, I believe it would be a mistake to argue that "the death of political blogging" is imminent (I put that phrase in scare quotes because I can't even begin to count the number of times I have been asked about what will result in the death of political blogging). Instead, I believe this means is that the world of online political content generation is moving away from the top-down model of an individual, independent blogger producing the majority of new content for a given website--a model which was dominant through most of 2002-2005. Now, the paradigm is shifting toward a more networked, community-oriented model where a much higher percentage of the audience participates in the generation of new content. Blogging, including political blogging, is still quite healthy, as long as it encourages user-generated content and relies on a group of main writers rather than a single individual. However, the days when an individual blogger can start a new, solo website and make a big national splash are probably over. The blogosphere and the netroots are transforming, not dying off,” writes Bowers.

Bowers further reports that while the numbers of readers on the main political blogs like the DailyKos are declining, user participation in the generation of new content on the site has actually increased (by 20%). Also social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook have continued to expand at the same exponential rates that the political blogosphere once expanded, Bowers reports.

“In addition to the end of the era of the highly successful solo-blogger, I forecast that this development toward user-generated content will carry two other important ramifications for the political blogosphere. First, the already extreme gap between the political engagement of netroots activists and rank-and-file voters will grow even wider. With more people not just consuming political information online, but helping to generate it, netroots activists will continue to consolidate as a sort of "elite influential" subset within the American political system. Second, in order to remain successful, more than more political blogs will transform into full-blown professional operations that can be considered institutions unto themselves. In addition to community development, they will more frequently produce difficult, original work (beat reporting, investigative journalism, professional lobbying, national activist campaigns, original video, commissioned polls, mass email lists, etc.) that until now have been mainly the province of long-established news and political organizations. Competition from other high-end blogs will continue to raise the bar in this area, as the days of thriving on punditry alone are further confined to diaries and comments off the front-page,” writes Bowers.