My Two Cents on Blogging

Been think­ing about Hugh MacLeod’s posts on this sub­ject this week since Jere­mi­ah Owyang brought it up here (and fol­lowed up here) and then BOOM here he goes again with anoth­er post about what blog­ging means AND TO WHOM in 2012. Agree com­plete­ly and I’ll add that while I love Google+ and Twit­ter and var­i­ous oth­er net­works, I’m still read­ing blogs with vig­or. And a hearty amen to the con­ver­sa­tion hap­pen­ing in oth­er places than the com­ments. Twit­ter real­ly unleash­es their pow­er, for bet­ter or worse, no?

And let’s be seri­ous: I’m still fol­low­ing links back to blogs from Twit­ter. Not every­thing is being encap­su­lat­ed 140 char­ac­ters at a time. Aren’t you?

A short sto­ry: tweets like this one bear an eerie resem­blance to dis­course in the music blo­gos­phere cir­ca 2006. I’ll add that every­thing went pear-shaped in music blog­ging right around the time folks start­ed to notice that it was­n’t fun any­more and that first was what mat­tered most. It’s what drove me to find some­thing else to do as some of my favorite crit­ics did the very same. Once every­one’s talk­ing about what’s wrong, it starts to hurt the prod­uct. This is why I find folks like Mau­ra and Chris and Daphne to be so inspi­ra­tional: they’re stick­ing it out and still doing great work. If tech blog­gers start to feel that the thrill is gone, I’d rec­om­mend check­ing out how Mau­ra and Chris and Daphne are rein­vent­ing what it means to be a music crit­ic in a Lady Gaga Pants­less in Paris world.

If you’re a tech blog­ger or aspire to be one some­day, reach out to friends and col­leagues who’ve writ­ten about music or food for pay online in the past decade or so. If noth­ing else, they can share more than a few sto­ries about how Web 2.0 trans­formed the way we blog and how that process keeps iter­at­ing to new fields every day.

Why I’m Rebooting Twitter

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 — and keep — the Inter­net fun.