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New TGB Feature: Where Elders Blog

Elders and the Changing Blogosphere – Part 1

A short while ago, Jeneane Sessum of Allied caught my attention with a post about how blogging has changed.

“It used to be blogging was how we talked to one another using hyperlinks for punctuation and context clues. That was when we were amateurs and doinks…Opinion and Thought Leadership were the last thing on our minds because, again, we came here to get away from THERE.

Now that there is here, and blogging has turned pro, enduring labor and giving birth to social media (which is hyper-pro), blogging isn’t the place where I want to say what I want.”

A couple of weeks before Jeneane’s post, Tish Grier of The Constant Observer addressed the issue from a different point of view.

“…how things have changed out here in the blogosphere regarding how we view authority – and even rank – of blogs…

“…‘linklove’ – well, that was a concept that I’m not sure we really care about anymore now that some blogs are more about advertising and making money from advertising than they are about building friendships, community and thought-influence.”

Both of these women are on to something important. Many blogs are now so cluttered with Blogher Ad Network ads, Google Ads, Blogads, Blogvertise ads and others sometimes all together that they feel more like splogs; I know there must be editorial content somewhere, but it’s damned hard to find.

It’s not that making pin money from blogs is a bad idea; I’ve done it myself (although I gave it up as distraction both from the blog and to myself). But when the ads take up more real estate than the writing, it is no longer a blog; it’s mainstream media with some token commentary.

[As an example of how far it’s gone, I recently ran across a blog where the entire day’s post was a plea to readers to click on the ads.]

I suspect, too, that the popularity of the so-called social media sites – MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and their imitators - is further eroding the sense of community that blogs originally fostered.

God knows I could be wrong, but it appears that some bloggers I have enjoyed are blogging less frequently and in shorter bursts as they have become involved in the social media websites. But I can’t find the social part.

For the time I’ve spent on Facebook, etc. (admittedly, little), I fail to grasp the appeal. Computer-generated requests drop into my mailbox, with no personal note, to “friend” people, most of whom I’ve never heard of, and others - some strangers, some not - plague me with invitations to join groups and campaigns, to “poke” someone or “message” them, and to donate money. Where is the conversation? Where are friendships being forged? Where is the funny anecdote, the thoughtful commentary, the link to useful information?

To Jeneane’s point, the more commercial, the more professional, the more corporate blogs become, the less value is placed on the friendship and community aspects of blogging.

This shouldn’t be a surprise. If we had had the wit to think it through four or five years ago when blogging began to take off, we would have realized blogs would be subsumed into “the media” including all its money-grubbing aspects. American business eventually turns every popular pastime into a revenue stream, and I’m pretty sure that if kids weren’t too busy on MySpace and with the new Halo3 to play hopscotch anymore, someone would find a way to monetize it – or worse, patent it and charge players a user fee.

But as Hereclitus observed two-and-half millennia ago, nothing is constant but change. Of course blogging has evolved. Of course it will continue to do so in ways we like and don’t like. What bothers me most is that as some bloggers move to the social media sites, as other blogs come to look like newspaper inserts for K-Mart, and bloggers reach for professional status, we lose the essence of blogging that attracted us “amateurs and doinks” in the first place.

If Jeneane now prefers IM and the telephone, as she says, we lose her inimitable public voice.

There is, however, one place in the blogosphere that with a minor exception or two is unlikely to stop talking with one another any time soon or follow the crowd to MySpace, etc. I’ll tell you what that is and why I think it is so in “Elders and the Changing Blogosphere - Part 2” on Monday.

[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Nancy Leitz recalls an in incident of personal diplomacy during the deepest days of the Cold War in Frisbee With the KGB.]


Comments

Sigh. I've been through a lot of things in my years in cyberspace and blogging is, for me, the best yet. Lately, I've been slow about it but I'm not giving it up!!!!!

On the smaller, social networking sites like Open Diary, it still works. I keep both my blogs ad free....I can't stand their inturruptions, and I pay to keep my blogs that way.

Yesterday I wrote an obit for a friend. On Blogspot, which does have an easier to access layout, no one at all left me a note. On OD, there were over 20 notes a sign that there is an active social community there. Yes, blogging has evolved, but loving interaction is still available online.

Though we are powerless over other people’s appropriations, we can boycott, shun, and expose their distortions and disfigurements (as you, Jeneane, Tish, and others have done). We can even explain our thinking or have a conversation with the "appropriators," if they are interested. When folks emphasize monetizing, or seeking revenue streams over building and maintaining community, I simply move on.

Here's a thought. Our electronic lives are being packed into more and more compact devices, such as iPhones or Blackberries. When everything is small and wireless, and keyboards are reduced to something you search one fingertip at a time, then things like Tweets take the place of blog posts. Everything is abbreviated into a text message. Our individual interactions with the electronic world increase, therefore we attempt to make each individual interaction briefer.

I have understood how some have to make money from their blogging but have thought of mine as a gift-- such as it is. I don't avoid blogs that have ads but I also never read them or click on them. I like the blogs that load fast but then I use a lot of photos on mine which I realize slows it down for older computers or slower servers. It's all finding balance.

Having been online in one way or another, I have seen a lot of changes. I have experienced chat room communities that came and went and expect blogging might end up that way for me. For now I enjoy it as it is but who knows about the future for really anything.

I haven't explored much in the blog world; so only really know about the blogs I visit and to whom they might link. If I have problems with the format I use, that would be when I'd go looking for a different one as I have limited time to put into this world and like to make the most of it.

I'm not done blogging. My world has only just begun to read blogs. I have, however, adopted Facebook and Twitter as different ways of "talking to each other." They all serve different purposes.

While I find that Facebook gives me quick access and links to what my few long-time blogger buddies are up to, my weblog is still my voice in the wilderness. I think that, because of the "social networks," fewer people are reading blogs unless they do a search for some specific topic that, at some point, had been featured on a blog. I have lots of hits, but most are from strangers searching. I blog for lots of purposes that something like Facebook doesn't address. But I play more on Facebook. Mostly Scrabble. :-)

Wonderful post...I find much of the advertising so distracting that I just keep moving. I feel like I can't relax and just read. I get enough commercials and product placement on tv.

Well, you know, I don't have the time to sit around and chat all day with people, online or on the phone. I can read a blog post at any time of day or night and respond at my convenience, and that's the magic of it for me, just like with email.

The phone is lovely to connect with friends, but I really don't feel like calling up my favorite bloggers all that often, and I don't know their numbers or their IM ids anyway. And chatting online is a major pain - people have to be tied up on a computer to talk to each other. I used to be involved in online meetings across the country, and people would type furiously to get their comments in - when they were two cubicles apart and could easily have been talking to each other in person instead of tying up the meeting arguing with each other! And then when I was trying to get work done, people wanted to chat on the chat site? Sorry, busy...

Oh, and there is advertising on web sites? Huh. I never noticed. I am oblivious to it, really, and simply never acknwoledge it in any way.

Ah,the blogging world is a complex one. I've known that fact to turn off a few fellow seniors, but thanks for looking at "the big picture."

Persoanlly, I hate flashy, animated ads the most, and I don't like musical backgrounds on blogs eithert: too much like constant connection to mind-numbing earphone devices, which I avoid. Still, I love the fact that I can share my thoughts at any time (usually early mornings for me) and put them out there to be ignored or appreciated, as people choose.

Of course trying to make money is the American way, but I see the real value of blogging (and social websites, to a lesser extent) in opportunities to communicate with others.

Seniorwriter of "Never too Late!"

I love this post about the changing blogosphere and social connection waning through other ad-filled social media sites. It has brought me back ever so lovingly to my blog. Thank you!

Hi R! (and thanks for the link!) Virginia makes a good point about time getting compressed and therefore our messages to the world getting compresses...

I think that's what I don't like about Twitter, and why I don't feel a personal need for it. If I get "forced" to use it (like I got forced into Facebook), it will be because someone, somewhere decided that companies NEED to use Twitter NOW!!!! as a new advertising channel (which would really suck for Twitter.)

And, as you note, so many blogs are also becoming outlets for advertising--which is why I, too, keep mine ad-free. My voice is my own, it's not to be bought by anyone. If I work *for* someone, that's a totally different thing, and why I have a disclaimer on my blog. I do not need, nor want, my online voice to be laiden with advertisements anymore than I want my real-life voice to be. I'm not a product nor a walking (or writing) product endorsement.

I have never asked anyone to click on the ads, but I sure wish you all would. I live on dollars in Euroworld (think if your income was halved-- mine has been) and it would be great to fund the costs of the blog with clickthroughs.

More importantly, however, is that as a retired kitchen designer and present chef/teacher, my kitchen shops could be very helpful to people learning cooking. When I write articles on equipping a kitchen I tell readers that they can spend time looking around for the objects, as I did, or look in the shops. I think they are all wandering around the street markets of Provence, because no one ever bought a single item there.

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