When will blogging cross the chasm?

Blogging is merely the result of new technology being applied to the age-old problem of people wanting their ideas to be heard. Although blogging is growing by leaps and bounds, I do not think it has reached more than a small fraction of its full applicability at this point in time.

Blogging is the subject of innumerable news articles and is the bane of many a careless mainstream journalist, but it is not out of the early adopter phase yet. Bloggers are visionaries for the most part, although members of the early majority (pragmatists) are testing the waters to see if blogging might help their careers or their businesses.

While many people are busily examining blogging from the corporate management viewpoint, (e.g. will blogging sell more of my products?) my interest as a blogger is currently focused on the speed at which blogging will become a remunerative profession.

This illustration from a review of Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm summarizes the typical phases in the adoption of a new technology. I maintain that we are still in the chasm between early adopters and the early majority.

Technology Adoption Life Cycle

I think we bloggers can benefit by revisiting Geoffrey Moore’s book and looking at various aspects of blogging vs the Technology Adoption Life Cycle. The chasm model provides a rational structure for predicting the future course of blogging and bloggers.

Mike Manuel,
media guerrilla, touched upon this some months ago, but he felt that
blogging was just being adopted by visionaries. I think things have
progressed rapidly since then, and blogging is now crossing the chasm
between early adopters and the early majority.

At any rate, this meme
still has legs and should be developed further, if we are to anticipate
the changes that will occur in the blogosphere in the next few months.

Blogging is almost a pure meritocracy, with a definite advantage for being first on the scene with a particular theme, but as Michelle Malkin
points out, there is considerable mobility in the ranks of top
bloggers. This is further indication that blogging has not reached the
tornado stage of acceptance.

Although there is a growing demand for the information that blogs
provide, I would estimate that 98% of all bloggers do not make money
from their blogs yet. Blogs like Instapundit and Wonkette
that have attracted a large audience can make money through
advertising, but I don’t have enough data to show that business
bloggers are generating enough income to live on. I am sure that a
working model will emerge, but that point seems to be still ahead for
most blogs. We will be able to understand how long it will be by using
the Chasm model to predict how blogging will be adopted as a mainstream

Bloggers are certainly gaining respect from mainstream media, even
if it is only the grudging respect a cavalry troup  gives to a road
full of caltrops, but respect does not pay the bills and enable us take
our families to far-off places with sandy beaches and tropical breezes.

I think that blogging is about to leave the province of visionaries
(early adopters) and become the subject of intense evaluation by the
early majority who need to use blogging to break through the increasing
consumer resistance to corporate flackery.

As John Winsor writes in his new book, "Beyond the Brand", companies must use "bottom-up" tools to co-create new products and marketing strategies with
their customers. John has not highlighted blogging as one of these
tools, but he stresses the need for companies to engage in a dialogue
with customers. Those of who blog know how open that dialogue can be,
sometimes like drinking from a fire hose!

If blogs are to serve the needs of early majority enterprises, the
tools have to be more user friendly and less technically challenging.
Adoption by early majority firms, which operate on the "herd
mentality", will generate a great need for educational classes in
corporate blogging, PR blogging, sales blogging, etc., and industry
groups dedicated to building an infrastructure to support effective
corporate blogging.

The late majority will probably never get directly involved in
blogging and will probably use hired bloggers as a channel to get the
word out much as corporations now use PR firms. Blogs which are simply
advertisements elicit ridicule
today, but in the brave new world of commercial blogging, there may be
blogs that replicate the function of the "infomercials" that appear on
late night TV.

It is important to realize that bloggers are working with a blank
slate here and there is no telling what will happen in the months and
years to come. There is such power in the written word that we wre
working with cultural dynamite. Anything can happen when citizens can
publish freely.

There are really no rules or "how to’s" that are being enforced by a
"higher authority". All enforcement is done by market pressure and peer
pressure. I think we have barely glimpsed the shape of future blogging.
I am sure that coming changes will make many long for the good old days
when a blog was just a collection of links or random journal entries.

I think there is much more to be said here, but I am going to give
it a rest and let you have a turn on the soapbox. Tell me what you
think is going to happen.

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