Trying Blogs Again

Let's get this out of the way: Social media killed the blog.  Before 2007, there was a cacophony of individual 'Blogs where people shouted their unvarnished opinions into the aether.  Some had quite a following, especially in tech.

The concept was strikingly simple:  Use a blog engine (like this one, Blogger) or bootstrap your own site on Wordpress and make your content accessible to anyone with an internet connection.  This was the internet at its purest:  Content and hyperlinks all "webbed" together, with idea building upon another free-flowing idea.

So where'd it go?

It went on Facebook.

Facebook and Twitter launched in 2005-2007, and one can map a direct decline the the number, length, and quality of blog articles since then.   People put their "quick shots" up on twitter, and a good number of blog entries were just that--motes of observation.

The interactivity on those sites was much better as well--one got immediate comment feedback, "@replies," and metrics on who cared about what.

So, exactly 10 years later, why did I fire up the execrable "Feedly" mobile app this morning and browse my old Google Reader feeds, curated over 10 years ago?

In a word: Writing.  Social media isn't writing; it's stream of consciousness.   (Full apologies to those who think James Joyce is a genius).   At best, social media is like a distributed conversation with the same ebb-and-flow.   That's certainly valuable and we humans need that.

However, we also need short-form writing with long-recognized formats:

  • Essays that frame a real point-of-view.
  • Reviews that give our opinion, backed-up with evidence
  • Journal entries that tell about our days and how events impact us.
Getting your thoughts out is important, and removing them from the Agora of Facebook and Twitter is important because ideas are temporal.  You are temporal.  We know what farmers and tradesmen in Mesopotamia thought 5000 years ago because they took time to write-down things on cuneiform tablets.  These were the things important to them, and posterity is better for their efforts.

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