I see that various people in the blogosphere are getting a case of blog fatigue. Somewhat like influenza, its symptoms are tiredness and a general feeling of lassitude leading to required rest. While the kind of rest required during influenza is mostly bed rest, blog fatigue usually requires time away from the keyboard.
Why does blog fatigue happen? There are likely as many reasons as there are bloggers, but chief among them is the insidious way that blogging goes from a diversion to an obligation. Consider: Many people start blogging because they think it’s a useful replacement for sending things around on mailing lists to friends. The trouble is, most of the people reading such blogs are not friends, so bloggers start worrying that these people won’t understand when they take a few days (or weeks) off from sending things around.
So it goes, with what was once a guilty pleasure turning into just plain guilt. And who needs more of that in their lives? There’s nothing like being yoked to unpaid piece-work — blogging — to make one rethink one’s obligation to readers.
Will blog fatigue ever go away? Probably not. The economics of blogging (for most bloggers) will never be such that they can count on a large stream of income flowing in as a result of their musings. Those people are always going to be at risk for blog fatigue, if mostly because they inevitably wonder just what the heck they are doing this for. They will either decide to blog on their own schedule, not that of some imagined reader, or they will become “blog wood” — one of the myriad abandoned blogs floating around in the blogosphere’s many currents.
One solution to the problem, perversely enough, involves less direct blogging. I, for one, would like to see more drive-by data syndicated via people’s blogs of what other people are up to and reading. For example, I can imagine a future blog that is created in the background from everything I read online today (and not just blogs). That autonomous linkblog might be interesting for some people to scan — I know I would read such things from smart folks like Jon Udell, Brad Feld, Brad Delong, and many others.
Similarly, you can imagine other sources of autonomous content, from data thrown off by people’s email activities — how many items does Tim Bray have in his inbox today? — to bandwidth-usage data. The trick to future blogging will be turn it from being one-dimensionally tied entirely to the active process of bloggers recording thoughts in text form, to being a kind of giant driftnet that collects information and re-purposes it, syndication-style, for any of the myriad informational tastes out there for which it might be appropriate.