The Era of Calling Things “Dead” Is Dead. Or Should Be.

Oh God, I am sick to death of this “sky is falling” mentality that I keep seeing more and more. Everyone thinks they’re either cool or a 21st century Nostradamus by saying something is dead. “Twitter killed blogging.” “Google Buzz killed Twitter.” Blah blah blah.

Here are just a tiny few articles I found declaring something to be dead (something that is still widely in use):

Sorry, my crystal ball must be broken, because all I see are more and more customers using Twitter, email, Facebook, blogging. I don’t like Buzz and have never tried the Wave, but I see plenty of people telling me they’re still using it, so they’re not dead.

Basically, until someone like Google, Twitter, or Facebook declares they’re shutting down, everyone else should just shut up about things being “dead.”

After Newsweek pundit Clifford Stoll famously declared that the Internet would not replace newspapers, that Nicholas Negroponte was an idiot for saying we would buy books and newspapers straight from the Internet, and that you couldn’t “tote that laptop to the beach,” I would think that most people would hesitate before putting themselves out like that without any evidence to back it up. (In fact, Stoll’s piece has been generating such big laughs these past few weeks, that Newsweek’s own blog said, “Decca Records didn’t get this much heat for passing on the Beatles.”)

There are very few people whose predictions I absolutely trust. If one of them says, “this technology is dead,” I’ll check it out for myself to make sure. Anyone else who says it just looks like a poseur (that’s the real spelling of “poser.” It rhymes with “hoser.”) Everyone else seems to be killing technology because they don’t use it anymore (if they ever did), or they read a story somewhere that said overall use was down, or it had peaked, or some shiny new thing came along.

If you’re declaring something to be dead as a way to generate buzz and bring in some readers, start writing things with substance. Scott Scheper just did it with his blog post, Twitter, As We Knew It, is Dead. And while his qualifying phrase, “as we knew it,” keeps him from flying too close to my whole nose-wrinkling disdain of “is dead,” I do have to say his article is filled with enough actual useful information that he gets a free pass this time.

Basically, if all you can do is declare something to be dead because you can’t think of a catchy headline, then just don’t say anything until you can. Talk about how the thing has changed, talk about how you think it can be saved, or talk about its replacement. Just stop killing things for everyone else just because you quit using them.