It’s Time for Blogging to Evolve
By Jeff Sayre
The concept of blogging needs to evolve. Whereas Twitter and Facebook seem to have stolen some of the wind from blogging, I believe that netizens in general still desire to control their webspace and their webpresence. That is one reason that Diaspora–the upstart distributed social networking project–found initial funding success on Kickstarter. People want to have control over their content and privacy. They want to use their personal website as the anchor, as the foundation for their online communications.
The issue is that the major blogging platforms do not offer the means with which users can connect their sites in a distributed, decentralized, real-time social network. Thus, Twitter and Facebook continue to dominate the social networking space.
The vision of blogging needs to change. Right now it is an old-school vision, where a blog is a little island of content that is for most purposes unintegrated into the real-time social web.
We’re Not in Kansas Anymore
What needs to change? For starters, I believe that blogging and microblogging should not occur via distinct, separate platforms. I think these concepts need to be combined. I think that a blog needs to be re-envisioned as a multipurpose communications platform.
It would work like this. People could blab in 140-character (or so) snippets all day long if they wanted. But if they had more to say, they could easily do so without having to fracture the Stream by sending interested parties to their blog, to Facebook, or to another site.
In essence, you would summarize your basic idea on your own blog in 140 characters (maybe make it 200) and let each of your followers decide if they cared to see more. If they did, they could click a little icon to reveal your additional content—that is if you decided to post more content.
What would happen when a user wished to leave a comment? This would not be done via blogging business as usual. User contributions would not be via comments left on your blog, they would not be via the old-school capturing of others’ thoughts onto your database.
Instead, a user would “post” a comment on their blog and then their ideas, their rebuttals, their comments would appear in real time on your personal Stream on your blog. The user, however, would still control their content as it was posted via their site and they did not have to physically visit your site to make the comment. They could delete, edit, or augment their content whenever they wanted and any changes would be pushed to your Stream on your blog.
Think of it this way. On your blog, you should be able to broadcast any idea that you would like to engage others in discussing. If your followers wanted to say a few words about your idea, great, if they wanted to provide detailed rebuttals or contributions, they would be able to do that as well. But for each user involved in the conversation, their contribution would be made via their own communications channel, in other words via their own blog.
Why would this be of benefit? The important point is that each user’s Stream stays concisely organized in short tweet-like excerpts and that users do not have to leave their own Stream to continue more detailed conversations somewhere else. Users would not need to travel to Twitter to make pithy comments, then go to Facebook to check up on friends and view their photos, then go back to their own blog to check if anyone had posted a comment.
All Stream activity for each user would be managed in a single place, would be owned and controlled by that user, and would be located on that user’s personal communications channel.
It is Time for the Next Social Communications Evolution
Why should a user have to have a Twitter, Facebook, Quora, LinkedIN, or other social-networking account? Why can’t their blog be their personal communications channel to which others can follow in real time? Why can’t their blog have a real-time Stream dashboard that shows the updates of all those they are currently following? Why can’t their blog be their plug into the Social Web, instead of having to rely on multiple social-networking islands?
A WordPress or Drupal (or pick-your-favorite CMS) platform should offer real networking capabilities. Currently a WordPress network, as an example, is really a site that is controlled by a single entity—often existing on a single server. It is not a disparate connection of WordPress sites linked up across the InterWebs. It is just another closed data silo, not much different than Facebook.
I think the tools are already available to begin to make this vision come to fruition. With technologies like PubSubHubBub, some creative developers could take the popular blogging platforms and turn them into the next generation social network, into truly user-centric, user-controlled, globally linked, real-time distributed communications channels.
Blogging 1.0 Has Reached its Limits
Whereas I believe blogging is still a powerful, relevant technological paradigm in our socially-connected world (I am a consistent and regular user of a blog platform after all), I also believe that the current model of the blog is becoming less relevant as people migrate en mass to newer forms of communication. WordPress, Drupal, and other platforms, continue to do admirable jobs improving the tools and options available to their users. But Blogging 1.0 can only go so far. I’m afraid that it may have reached its limits.
The irony is that to announce this new article (or post) of mine, I will have to leave my blog, I will have to leave my communications channel, the channel that I truly control, and head on over to someone else’s channel and tweet about it. This is why blogging is losing some of its steam. This is why many of my colleagues who used to post frequently to their blogs have not done so in a noticeably long time. The attention has been drawn away from our personal communications channels. The eyeballs are focused elsewhere. The closed-siloed, mega-social nightclubs are winning the battle.
It is time to change that; it is time to once again leverage the power of the Web, regaining control and rebuilding the power of our personal communications channels. It is time for blogging to evolve once more, for the next stage of the blogging revolution to begin.
My Related Articles
- How Many Streams Can You Kayak At Once?
- The Web is Not (yet) Social
- My original detailed article on the need for decentralized microblogging, the benefits, and some of the basic technological underpinnings that would be required, A Flock of Twitters: Decentralized Semantic Microblogging
July 9, 2011: With the recent unveiling of Google+, a few prominent tech bloggers have decided to redirect their blogs to their G+ stream instead. This has created great debate. To learn more about this issue, read my article, Is Surrogate Blogging via Google Plus a Good Idea?
- A short, interesting post on using BuddyPress, a WordPress social-networking plugin suite, to build your own open source microblogging platform.
- More than 2-years ago, Matt Mullenweg introduced the Prologue Theme, a theme used at Automattic to bring Twitter-like, microblogging functionality to WordPress. The theme has been revamped and is now called P2 (also see the theme’s official site). These three links introduce the possibility of using the P2 theme to create a super blog that could meld a regular blog with a microblog, offering a “pretty effective distributed version of Twitter.” To date, no one has done that.