I’m writing this from a skyscraper with a big window where I see exactly no snow falling, despite dire prediction. As we all know, the Seattle area can’t handle snow – so much so that the *idea* of snow, keeps drivers at home.
This is a somewhat decent metaphor for the idea that the micro-blogging or status-update applications will take over blogging functions in society, much like TV was supposed to destroy radio.
But I have to admit that my purposeful blogging has gotten lighter, even as my thinking gets heavier. True, I did write these pieces for Blogworld – one about how effective community outreach for a cause can be in turning up engaged users and the other that represent my top 10 learnings while building social or community-based applications, and doing social media marketing. But there’s a bunch of thinking about social and social gaming, and social good that I still need to get my head around, and I’m not sure what format that output will take. Sometimes a personal/individual blog seems a necessity. Sometimes it just seems like ego – I’ve always been more interested in talking about what I’m working on at Microsoft that explaining how grand I am. For me it’s about who I’m excited to talk to, and the blog discussions of my travels are just so folks can share these things with me. But I can talk about Bing and the future of search on the Bing blog too, and it makes more sense in most cases to post it there.
I’m wondering how other folks are doing – those that are not consultants or where their blog is a money-maker/ad proposition – where blogging is still because you love it, or have something to say, and whether it’s harder to find time for it as I am finding it. Perhaps I’m just lazy. But I also know the landscape has changed from 5 years ago.
We all know social media channels can be a distraction and all of them have gotten more popular and noiser. Internet usage is up worldwide and according to Pew, 3/4th of US online teens and young adults use social networks. it’s a faster, real-time, cacaphonous online world out there and a certain percentage of thinking time for me has had to be diverted just to listening. I have enjoyed working at Microsoft because of all the brains I get to meet in my job, and I enjoy social media for all the brains I get to meet online. I forgive a ton of shyness, awkwardness or abruptness for exposure to great brain processes and the chance to swap thinking with someone who has pondered stuff as deeply as I have in some favorite obsessive areas.
What you’ve seen though is a pulling away and silent thinking for other reasons. There is the dismay of the early adopter – once everyone in America likes your band, can it really be as cool as when only you and your small group of friends like it? And thinking about the trends and the next big thing. The marketers have gotten into social now with a vengeance, and while you’ve seen a bunch of creativity there (all hail Old Spice dude! still one of my faves) you are also seeing trends of failure. That’s natural in a new medium – fail, I say, as fast as you can. And also, some things only work once while the medium is new – and then first mover advantage is used up and you are now just an online marketer like everyone else.
The other thing that has informed my silent thinking/non-blogging brain lately has been the issues raised by Linda Stone and others about continuous partial attention and what it means to have software that shuts off inputs so we can get things done. I don’t have a quiet life, I leave the computer on all the time, I take the computer and phone into restaurants and on vacations,and I think the last time I had 3 days without the Internet was in another country over a year ago. My novelty-seeking noggin wants candy, and well, maybe I should start feeding it vegetables and slowtime, do handcrafts so that I get the actual brainspace to think instead of receive, receive, receive.
Some of my best blog posts of yesteryear came out of lucidly felt emotions and discoveries and the chance to think about how to explain them. My life at Microsoft was just as slammed at those times as now but I feel like my brain was different. I guess what I’d hope for all of us in 2011 as we navigate the social and the new technologies that change day to day, is the ability to rise above tit for tat, ping for ping thinking and get that deep breathing, deep thinking, deep blogging in. Or tweeting if you like ( quite expletive filled, so maybe read at home – it was pointed out to me recently that the fake @mayoremanuel ‘s twitter feed was essentially a short story or novella written in 140 character bites).
No, the blog as a medium is not dead – and this blog is not dead. But to do it right I will have to change my life (or at least the part inside my head) to suit. I’ll let you know more how that goes.
Live it vivid!