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It’s Time for Blogging to Evolve

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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

  1. How Many Streams Can You Kayak At Once?
  2. The Web is Not (yet) Social
  3. 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

Update

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?

Outside Resources

  1. A short, interesting post on using BuddyPress, a WordPress social-networking plugin suite, to build your own open source microblogging platform.
  2. 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.

Article Comments

  1. I wasn’t sure whether to Tweet this with your Tweet icon or leave a comment, or put my comment on MY blog and learn how to create a link to your comments, or just let caution go to the wind and let you “StumbleUpon” it.

    Your point is well taken and I for one would like to see your proposal realized sooner rather than later!

    See you on Facebook. R U on Facebook? Hmmm. Maybe we’ll never bump into each other again. What a sad thought … maybe, I’ll just call you.

    (now how the hell do I get this counted by my Twitter as another Tweet?)

    • Jeff Sayre says:

      🙂

      And that of course, as you so aptly and purposefully demonstrate in your comment, is the current failure of the blogging platforms to address the needs of modern social-networking creatures!

  2. Hi Jeff, I’m back! I just didn’t want to wait too long to establish a pattern of interaction … Whew … now that we’ve gotten that social media awkwardness out of the way … I’m going to put you in my Twitter “People Worth Listening To” List.

    • Jeff Sayre says:

      Thanks, Chris!

      Man, this modern technology sure makes it easy for people to quickly and efficiently contact each other. I mean, all that it took to make this connection was:

      1. I write and post an article on my blog
      2. I tweet about it
      3. I tweet about it again 18+ hours later
      4. It finally gets some traction
      5. You see it on Twitter or some other channel
      6. Finally, you visit the actual article on my blog
      7. You have to post a comment outside of the channel(s) where you first encountered the outside reference to my blog article
      8. I receive an email stating that I have a new comment to moderate
      9. I login to my WordPress admin page to find said comment
      10. I leave a reply to your comment and the circle is complete.
      11. But is it? You either have to periodically visit my blog, subscribe to its passe RSS feed, or follow me on Twitter to stay “connected” to me.

      Hum? How efficient and effective is blogging these days? Without using other channels, the chance of you or anyone else finding and reading this article would be very small. After all how many people would happen to be searching Google for this topic?

      This is why blogging needs to evolve. Blog 2.0 can turn our disjointed, unconnected, outdated websites into a globally-connected platform where these conversations can be discovered in real-time and responses made in real-time without having to jump from platform to platform to platform.

      Now I am exhausted!

  3. 12. Then I go to my “People worth listening to” List on Twitter
    13. Note that I put Jeff Sayre there.
    14. Clicked on Jeff’s link.
    15. Scrolled down to the original posting.
    16. Hit hyperlink to Jeff’s article
    17. Scrolled down to see if Jeff responded to my post.
    18. Read the response from Jeff & noted my second response followed his response to my first comment, when I left my second comment before getting his response (WTF, no big, NBD)
    19. Then I got pissed that Jeff only responded on his blog, adding to his conversation, and didn’t respond on Twitter, which would give me Authority Points on social media, and here I am again giving Authority Points to Jeff … Hmmm.
    20. Thinking I’ve just wasted my afternoon for no Authority points, and decided to go outside and turned off my compu

  4. … only joking. The complex of this social media world is interesting & complicated, too complicated as your article points out. It’s hard to keep track of your own posts let alone others. I really like your proposal to have social media wrap around you – Ray Kurzweil has talked about technology enabling humans for years, rather than humans ing to adapt to technology. BTW, thanks for the authority points 🙂 (just learned about that too – weird)

  5. I think many people have a love hate relationship with Twitter and Facebook. I have heard some people refer to these networks ‘inter-Webs’ or ‘alternate Webs’ as though they exist as digital gated communities separated from the parent Web. Arguably these ‘siloed’ networks will continue to exist as two of the biggest pillars of social media now and in the years to come. In terms of the relative openness of these networks, I would expect very little to change. After all, this is in essence the model for a centralized network: remaining closed to a certain extent from external forces.

  6. Nathan says:

    For some reason, while on this stream of consciousness, the name “Compuserve” popped into my head. So I “Googled” it. And it still exists?!?!

    So, is Facebook the same as America Online, which was the same as Compuserve? Just the same idea of communities that all are born, live for a short while on a wave of popularity & die off because we humans all tend to be a bit on the fickle side??? Or like the life cycle of villages, cities or the Mayan Civilization?

    Well, Facebook is a software platform, rather than a “community”, per se – and maybe this software platform becomes the basis for the blogosphere/social connectivity/something-something stuff . . . . I’ll pick out one of your points, Jeff: “This is why blogging needs to evolve.”

    Evolve or die?

  7. […] It’s Time for Blogging to Evolve (tags: blogging comments) […]

  8. […] It’s Time for Blogging to Evolve (tags: blogging comments) […]

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