6. Future of blogging

The rise of blogs has been meteoric over the past few years, but blogging is continuing to develop as a technology, as a way of communicating and as a way of interacting with others online. So what does the future hold for the world of blogs?

Different ways of blogging

Bloggers are finding different ways of passing on their thoughts to the rest of the world, other than just using text. Keen writers can send entries using their mobile phones, produce blogs that are made up solely of photographs or use a blog as a distribution method for audio (podcasts) or video (vlogging).

In economics, innovative sites such as VoxEU and Economics in Action, are already using the web to distribute audio interviews with researchers and to promote the study of economics to new audiences.

Research institutes, like the Library of Economics and Liberty are taking advantage of this opportunity to promote their work via a different medium, at their EconTalk website.

Keeping track of the blogosphere

The blogosphere is still growing, which makes it more and more difficult to keep track of good writing, new authors and interesting papers. Fortunately specialist search tools have emerged which allow you to focus just on blogs, so you can see what is being talked about as it happens.

Technorati is a search engine that has tracked over 130 million blogs worldwide and allows you to set up watchlists that search for new items on specified topics.

The main Internet search engines, also have services that monitor blogs such as Google Blog Search. Perhaps the easiest way of seeing what blogging economists are saying is to visit the Economics Roundtable, a site which aggregates over 120 of the leading economics commentators into one site. Palgrave EconBlog also collates posts from a range of Economics blogs.

These searching and alerting services rely on a technology called RSS or Really Simple Syndication, enabling users to subscribe for free to a blog or other information service, so that they are automatically updated when new material is published. Try a web based service like Bloglines or Google Reader, so that you can subscribe to your favourite blogs, get tables of contents from newly published journals and news stories from The Economist all in one place. It is spam and advert free, and it saves you time by delivering the information directly to you.

Here to stay

While some may be critical of blogging as a passing fad, it is here to stay, even if in the future blogs will be referred to in the same way as any other type of online source. Innovators such as Stephen Kinsella are already using blogs to support their courses with a full range of Web 2.0 add-ons such as videos, embeddable slideshows of lecture presentations and the latest links from social bookmarking websites. The fact that blogs offer quick and easy web publishing, with little or no need for technical skills, means that many people will continue to choose blogging as a key way of expressing themselves online.