Why wait until January to look into a crystal ball? I'm ready to make my forecasts for blogging's next year now, ahead of the prognosticating pack. But please--do not take this posting too seriously. I'm a reporter not a prophet.
That being said, the envelope please: I predict that in 2006:
1. The number of bloggers worldwide will exceed 150 million. The areas of greatest growth in new blogs with large followings will be business and elected political officials. These two areas will eclipse, or nearly eclipse, the top category of technologists talking about technology. This will also make both businesses and politicians a tad more responsive to their constituencies.
2. The greatest growth of all will come from non-professionals who create blogs to serve small groups of family, friends and colleagues. There will be millions and millions of blogs with audiences of less than 20 each.
3. After a few major metropolitan newspapers die, dailies will begin to understand that blogs are part of their solution, and will start incorporating neighborhood bloggers into their system. These microchannels of news will be well-supported by local advertisers who will be thrilled to support these effrots over Google Local or static Yellow Pages. Why? Because these newspaper bloggers will be comprised of local people talking to their neighbors. What better way to reach such a community?
4. Topical blogs, covering everything from quilting to butterfly collecting, will emerge. People in multiple countries and of multiple cultures will dicover through topical blogs that they share passion and knowledge with others over the world.
5. Adverising and PR consultancies who today claim everything is just fine based on current billings, will begin to feel an economic erosion. Some will adapt to new Conversational Marketing techniques. Others will dismiss the revenue shortfall on business cycles. Many of these will begin to consolidate or perish in 2007.
6. Each member of the so-called A-List will continue to increase the people who follow them. But they will each become less important, as the relentless growth of the blogosphere outgrows their readerships, giving them influence over smaller percentages of the total.
7. Blogging tools will get better. They have to, if all this adoption I'm predicting is to actually happen.
8. Realizing that there is a better chance for one independent blogging tools and hosting service, Six Apart and Wordpress will talk merger. Wordpress will not like the idea, but will see that it beats getting gobbled or crushed by one of the giants of Google, MSN and Yahoo!
9. Somewhere a blogger will break a news story that makes the world stop cold. He or she will be considered for a Pulitzer. But the committee will reject the idea, because the traditional newspaper managers who determine award recipients will remain adamant that bloggers are never journalists.
10. Bloggers will continue to refine their fact-checking methods and in so doing, continue to increase their credibility. Shel Israel will finally remember to use both to spell check and tag his blogs.