Last December I offered my two cents on what’s happening with blogging in response to Jeremiah Owyang’s provocative post that pronounced the golden era of tech blogging dead. Now, I’m not sure how people feel about that a few months on, but something that’s stuck with me is how we gather information online today. Sure, we’re having lots of “conversations,” but readers still crave destinations.
Good writers know that in order to get anyone to look at anything online, you need a hook. When we share links on Twitter and Facebook, they’re only interesting if you can tease people to click into the story. We’re all writing headlines for everything we share with the online community. To me that means we still need blogs, websites…anywhere you can put lots of words and ideas next to each other.
We like info snacking, but we’re really picky eaters. Given the amount of information that’s out there it’s only fair that readers only sample what they like at the content buffet. But make no mistake, curation takes more than the almighty “conversation.” So, writers, don’t despair: readers still crave the yummy content that’s always made the web great.
Read this post by Jeremiah Owyang recently and it got me thinking about how I use Twitter. Since I’ve vowed to share more in 2012, I thought it might be a worthwhile exercise to map exactly how that will play out using Jeremiah’s helpful template.
- Local news. Pretty sure Twitter became what we used to call “hyperlocal.” Whether you’re in Egypt or Fishtown, Twitter is an easy place to find out what’s happening in your neighborhood. Word of caution: local Twitter can be just as unreliable as any other breaking story on Twitter.
- Second screen experiences. Instead of “event capture,” I do quite a bit of tweeting about what I’m watching on TV. Whether it’s the Phillies or Boardwalk Empire, chances are I’m sharing reactions to what I’m seeing on Twitter. I even maintain a well-manicured baseball list on Twitter and from what I hear nobody uses lists. Don’t know what I’d do without it.
- I’ll second “listening tool.” I don’t use trending topics often, but I’ve found search to be really helpful to peer into the information kaleidoscope we call Twitter.
- Social sharing. Whether it’s retweeting funny jokes or interesting links, Twitter is a great way to grab someone’s attention. Don’t know if I’m in the minority here, but Twitter is an invaluable place to spend time while there’s nothing better to do. It’s my dear companion when I’m in transit.
- Giving credit where it’s due. Part of the fun of Twitter is bringing offline fun to the Web. If I have a good chat with Twitter friend at lunch, I’ll share a bit to further the conversation online. Great way to generate conversation about topics of interest to the the greater community.
And you know what? It’s time to completely rethink some of these uses.
- Let’s start with local. Part of the problem people have with the Internet is that they feel disconnected. That alienation stems from the belief that the Internet is what’s standing between real personal interaction. I think it’s a false dichotomy myself, but one way to assure that you don’t outsource those kinds of interactions to the web is to disconnect local from your Twitter feed. Sure, some of you may think that’s tantamount to taking the batteries out of your smoke detectors, but I have a hunch that if a local news story is important enough to affect your everyday life, you’ll probably hear about it outside of Twitter. Go ahead and talk to your neighbors more in 2012. You’ll be glad you did!
- I’m pretty comfortable with the second screen graf, although I get that those tweets can be alienating to folks who aren’t watching with you. If I could tweet about the Phillies exclusively to my baseball list, that would be pretty great. Same goes for anything with a hashtag. Would be a pretty cool way to segment conversations without having to maintain separate accounts. Would love to see that happen in 2012.
- Listening is bugbear, especially for personal use. Part of what was fun for me as an aspiring music critic last decade was jumping into conversations in comments sections all over the web. It was a great way to let folks know you were there and that you had things to say. I liken it to all the folks who liked the Velvet Underground or Sex Pistols or James Brown and then went on to form their own bands. It’s how I got started. Without being “RT from a celebrity” desperate, I think it’s valuable to do the same with Twitter. Don’t just eavesdrop on the folks you want to hear you, talk to them, however disorienting it may be. You may never get a response, but when you do, that’s a step in the right direction. Act like you belong and you will.
- Feel the same way about social sharing. If you have an opinion, don’t sit on your hands. Part of the magic of the web was that it democratized publishing in very important ways. Take advantage of it! (I already know what you’re thinking about blogging. I’ll have a post about the state of the blogosphere tomorrow.)
That’s all to say that I’m completely rebooting Twitter starting immediately. If blogging has atrophied and those conversations are moving to Twitter and other microblogging tools, then it’s important to follow the conversation to those platforms. Sure, you can do what I’ve been doing and stay glued to RSS, but you’re getting the executive summary. If you want to watch writers work through thorny issues, whether it’s about technology or baseball, follow on Twitter. There you can see the germ of an idea start to bloom. It’s actually pretty cool and it’s a good opportunity to have input on a once very personal process. I plan to follow it more closely in 2012 myself, which means a year-end Twitter cull is in order.
Who will I be following in 2012? More tech writers and thinkers, more builders and doers, more Comcasters and more folks who make â€” and keep â€” the Internet fun.