My answer, as usual, is an emphatic “no”.
And at its minimum, its supported by Dave Sifry’s own data.
For example, he has one graph showing that the number of new blogs tracked by Technorati continues to climb at an even pace; all other things being equal, its not a bad surrogate for giving people an idea of how many new blogs in general are being created. And the pattern is one of an equal rise over time, which supports the idea that the blogosphere is growing.
Mr. Sifry also has a chart which suggests, however, that the doubling time is slowing down. But on the other hand, Mr. Sifry’s explanation is a good one; first of all, its easier to double (or grow) when your numbers are small than when your numbers are large, as Technorati is tracking now over 70 million blogs. Second of all, its spam tracking measures are improving. Who knows how many of those new blogs a year ago were not flagged as a splog, but would be this year?
What about the actual number of posts falling? Isn’t that an indication that blogging is tapering off? Well, no. I know that some have intimated, but when you read Dave Sifry’s post carefully he doesn’t say that the frequency is falling, only that the growth isn’t as fast. That is to say, that the posting frequency is climbing, but not as fast as it was before.
And against its own splog catching algorithms improving, unless it retroactively studies its data and yanks out all the splogs its new algorithms *would* have identified in the past, I think its actually impossible to know anything specific about patterns of growth in general until we have more data. The next quarter should be interesting in that regard.
Lastly, I think whenever we this meme starts floating around (probably every four months when Steve Sifry releases his report), we need to look outside our own blogging fishbowl. Sure, there’s no question that blogging might not really be “new” or “fresh” any more as a new form of media, but I think its yet to really pierce the public consciousness. After all, I would challenge you all to ask your mothers what blogging is, and I would be flabbergasted (this is no slight against women; you could ask your fathers too) if I were to hear anymore than a tiny percentage giving an accurate or cogent answer.
Moreover, we really need to look at other non-English speaking parts of the world as well. As internet usage rises in other parts of the world, so will other internet-related activities, including blogging. It stands to reason that, therefore, blogging as a whole, will continue to rise globally as other parts of the world get more internet savvy. Heck, the language that is most blogged in, according to Technorati, isn’t even English — its Japanese!
At the end of the day, I think that sometimes bloggers get discouraged when they see what they’re up against. A saturated blogging “marketplace”, heavy hitters who don’t recognize their heavy-hitting status, and the struggle to blog in a regular fashion against the challenges of just having a life with your family. All legitimate concerns.
While we can address the second and third issues another day, my hope is that I’ve convinced you that the blogosphere is still growing — and will continue to grow for a long time. And in that growing market, there’s opportunity — because there will always be room for original thinkers and passionate writers. Even now. And even today.