Wherein I agree with everything Om has to say about his experience with writing a blog (I loathe the term “blogging”) over the last 12 years.
When I started blogging, it was to share a point of view — mixing news with musings, with pictures, links, and later videos. It started and ended with that point of view, one that was open to adaption and adjustment, but always informed.
Blogging used to have blogrolls, link blogs, photo sharing, videos and even status updates. Status updates and link sharing are two behaviors crucial to Twitter, and photo sharing is as commonplace today as Starbucks cafes. We formed relationships, we followed people on blogs, now we do that on Instagram, Twitter, Foursquare, Facebook and every other service.
But I also agree with Tom Foremski’s counter-point:
Sadly, things turned out differently. Blogging, and other forms of social media, became mostly amplifiers of establishment ideas, a place for people to share links to mass media content. Social media became social distribution of mass media (SoDOMM).
If you’ve noticed over the last week I’ve been much more active here on CT.WP. That’s because there was an itch I needed to scratch and writing here, even if it was just short little commentary additions on stories I found that were of interest to me, helped me do that.
Part of the disillusionment I felt for a while about writing here is that, quite frankly, the people who really mattered weren’t doing it anymore. Too many folks had devolved into shilling for their services or consulting businesses and too few were actually having the kind of loose, anarchic fun with it that used to be commonplace in the early days.
I put the blame for that squarely on a few factors:
First, the rise of Facebook and Twitter meant people all of a sudden had platforms on which to promote their own posts and content. So by building up a network of followers there, something that’s easy to do if you speak in bland platitudes and scratch the itching ears of people eager to chime in with “Yeah, that makes sense,” they were able to take traffic building into their own hands. That actually had the effect of discouraging the kind of tactics that had been in place prior to that, where you had to get noticed by other writers, who would send traffic your way through links.
Second, as writers began to build up their own archives they were less and less inclined to link out to other stories/posts that would support their argument and instead started pointing to their own previous posts. That created a weird “I’m write now because look I wrote this before so PROOF” cycle that started to break the link-based currency of the web.
Finally, blog writing became more fully about selling services, Top 15 (or 13 or 22 if someone wanted to appear especially clever), making big dramatic statements on issues where big dramatic stances weren’t necessary or calling out companies for “not getting it” instead of acting like a human being and going through the customer service chain like everyone else.
In short, blogging became a formula for too many people. And once you start using the same (broken) playbook as everyone else it’s going to create a less interesting place for everyone to interact and live.
I’ve unsubscribed from many of the “blogs” I used to read years ago (you’ll pry my RSS feeds from my cold, dead hands, you social network fascists) because, quite frankly, if you’re read one “12 Ways To Optimize Your Facebook Publishing” post you’ve pretty much read them all. There are so few people saying truly interesting and original things and those who would be saying them are too busy to be writing about what they think is interesting.
Personally, my goal going forward is to keep CT.WP weird. It will be a little bit of everything that crosses my radar and is something I either have an opinion on, think is interesting or just want to archive for my own personal edification. Which used to be the whole point of this silly self-publishing endeavor. I’m not out to break existing media models, I’m just here to have fun. It may not show any great personal brand strategy and might at times seem more like performance art for some unknown purpose but hey, it’s my blog. Link to me, don’t link to me, I’m not going to lose any sleep over it.