What is Blogging to You?

Image by greefus groinks on Flickr used under Creative Commons

Image by greefus groinks on Flickr used under Creative Commons

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.




  1. If I may pretend to be technical, I generally treat my blog as more structured data, and my tweets, FriendFeeds, Google Reader shared items, etc. as unstructured data. There are exceptions – in fact, I have a blog that I use like a Twitter account – but generally my blog posts pretend to have some type of structure with a beginning, middle, and end, and possibly some contrasting points of view.

    I'm speculating here, but perhaps the reason that a Robert Scoble feels comfortable de-emphasizing his blog is because he has other outlets for his “structured” comments. If he were to lose those outlets, perhaps he'd blog more frequently.

  2. statement of record, “sharing” of knowledge, place to occasionally vent, and whatever else I feel like. I've used my search capabilities more and more just because I know I've encountered a particular problem before.

    I also think that those based mostly on technology are a bit different though. I can't substantiate that with facts or any rational thought right now either.

    twitter for me is part yelling off the roof top which is why I don't widget it on the blog. I know it's (twitter) public too…

    So I'm full of incomplete thoughts tonight…constrain my comments to 140 characters and problem is solved!

  3. I'm with you. A blog is a blog is a blog. My blog has articles and (Disqus) comments.

    If I want I a lifestream, I'll use FriendFeed to aggregate all my outputs (Tumblr, blog, Disqus, identi.ca). It seems counter-intuitive, to me at least, and backwards to embed my FriendFeed stream on my blog.

    Most widgets are clutter and really for the blog author and not the reader IMHO.

  4. While I have a Twitter widget on my blog, I don't push Tweets to my blog. I use Twitter and Friendfeed to achieve the opposite, as a way to push links to my posts — and to a lot of other stuff — to the community on Twitter.

    I use my blog when the thought I want to express requires more than 140 characters. Different tools for different tasks.

  5. Makes sense. I use a lot of some of those tools as placeholders (Delicious, FF, Reader Shared) to structure 'tubes content, i.e. so I can find it later.

    Blogging I use to document a process and get feedback, e.g. upgrading my disk, moving to Ubuntu, etc.

    Twitter I use for unstructured communication.

  6. I find myself searching here more often too. That's not something I do with FF or Twitter. I guess those are more immediate for me.

    Technology and purpose of each is different, but why insist on cramming them all together into a single blog with a mess of widgets?

  7. Yeah, the only widget I use with any frequency is the comments one. I check the Feedburner chicklet too, but that's it.

    I'm feeling that way about the Social Bar lately, but it's reaching that point of no return. Although I guess 100 odd people won't cry if it goes away.

  8. Interesting. I just checked, and it looks like a badge with your tweets. Did I miss something, or are we talking about a different blog?

    Twitter rules for those not quite blog worthy thoughts, hence the micro-blogging moniker. Your layout is a bit more forgiving for widgets. This theme doesn't have the space though.

  9. I used to have both a Twitter widget and a FriendFeed widget, but removed the former after the unpleasantness about the login message and never put it back. I'm keeping the FriendFeed widget as a reflection of other stuff I'm thinking about that I'm not blogging about. But I have reduced the number of widgets on my blog, primarily when they interfere with loading time.

  10. Load time is another concern for me. I just don't see the need to consolidate all my online crap into here. Maybe because this is ostensibly a team blog.

  11. I guess it depends on what you're tweeting. My personal account would bore people to tears if I piped it here. Tweets from a group account might be more useful.

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