This post on Mashable today about another WordPress plugin that can integrate and surface your FriendFeed and Twitter activity on your blog got me thinking about what a blog means anymore.
Blogging used to be the ultimate form of self-expression (or navel-gazing, depending on your perspective) on the ‘tubes, but now, Twitter, FriendFeed and Facebook scratch those itches for you.
FriendFeed is essentially an advanced blogging engine. You post content, mostly from other places, add your thoughts, and people comment. Content could be any number of things–an article you read, a picture you took, a video you shared, a location update, pretty much anything. Add likes and comments to everything, and you have a big blogging engine.
Facebook’s News Feed has all the same characteristics. Since they don’t use the follow concept though, your network could be more constrained, which may be a good thing or not, depending on your reasons for posting content.
Twitter could be the same way, if you’re using it to broadcast and share content. One drawback is the lack of threading, but it’s adequate. It’s still the same model: post content and get comments.
The big advantage to these systems over traditional blogging is the social dimension, i.e. people have to be in the system to comment. This makes it both easy to see who they are (easier than anonymity anyway) and easy to comment on their interesting comment if you so desire.
Blogging, on the other hand, is all over the ‘tubes, relying on trackbacks/pingbacks, SEO, blogrolls and other types of promotion to spread the word.
Getting back to the plugin, I find it funny that there are so many workarounds to bring content into people’s blogs. If you read here, do you necessarily follow me on Twitter and FriendFeed? Or if you follow me on those services, do you care where I blog?
Communities form around interest areas, and assuming that you are the area of interest isn’t always the best idea.
For example, I don’t really get why people add Twitter widgets to their blogs. Nothing against them, I just don’t get it. If I follow you on Twitter, I don’t need a widget to see your last x tweets. If I just read your blog, but don’t use Twitter, it’s noise. So, aside from managing your personal brand, what’s the purpose of those widgets?
I almost included FriendFeed widgets too, but since FriendFeed aggregates other content that might interest me, e.g. Flickr, your other blogs, etc. it might get a pass. I still think it’s only marginally useful.
I get why bloggers want to aggregate all their services into their blogs. It’s the whole personal branding thing; my blog is my online identity, and therefore all my activity should be on my blog.
This is my blog. There are many like it, but this one is mine . . .
I wonder how about the impact these services have on blog content. I’m not alone. Formerly prolific bloggers like Robert Scoble, post much less regularly to their blogs, using FriendFeed or Twitter more often. Time is finite. So, time spent tweeting and commenting on FriendFeed items is time not blogging.
The effect is usually bad. Frequently, the good content goes elsewhere, leaving the blog as a home to link posts, or if it’s fully converted, the blog becomes a dump of activity from Twitter and/or FriendFeed. I guess this is the Tumblr model, which is fine, unless there used to be a decent blog there.
Yeah, I know I don’t have to read, but it’s a little disappointing if a blog you enjoyed reading has morphed into a dump of tweets and link posts.
So, why blog anyway?
I think the last and best reason to blog is to have a record of stuff. This is one of David‘s main reasons, and it’s one of mine too. Recently, I had occassion to look back over the last two years to collect the history of Connect. If that hadn’t been blogged, it would be locked away in my head. And Rich’s. And Paul’s. And Anthony’s.
Blogging used in this way is a historical tool. I guess “the web log” started out life as an “online journal”, which makes sense.
To me, blogging is a very different animal than services like Twitter, FriendFeed and Facebook. So, I wonder why people try to combine them.
What do you think? Why do you blog? Why do you prefer one or the other to blogging or not?
Find the comments.