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.]