The State of the Blog

The art of blogging has come to define the paradigmatic shift in the web from a content-consumption medium to a dynamic, conversational sphere where ideas can be easily shared and everyone can own their slice of the Internet. Blogs have allowed us to write, share and discuss anything and everything, and their “coolness” factor in the early days of Web 2.0 caused many corporations to adopt them as a quick, informal communication method – a way of bridging the gap between brand and consumer, much like what’s happening in the Twitter world with a multitude of “verified” accounts from brands tweeting as a means of keeping their user bases engaged.

Newspapers realised in the early days of blogs that print media and their online offerings were struggling to keep pace with emerging blogs, and if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, right? Which is what they did. However, the actual art form has come under scrutiny for whether it’s a dying medium today. Certainly, with larger print houses there is a sense that readership of content-specific blogs are dwindling, along with technological shifts, that are dictating a move away from blogging and back to more quality-focused content production (rather than the rapid-fire, continuous stream that blogging enables). In other words, content-specific blogging on news sites is not performing as well as other content, perhaps because people are choosing to consume such content from titles that are blog-first (I’m one of those people; I subscribe to numerous blogs and keep up with the world primarily through blogs rather than traditional news outlets).

I feel that blogging is an inherently personal medium. Whilst its power as a means of communicating in near-real-time with an engaged readership (and thus the ability to strengthen brands) is certainly appealing to companies, blogging has been described as “the unedited voice of a person” (by one of the form’s pioneers, Dave Winer).

This post is an example of that. I had an idea, after reading Mathew Ingram’s post on GigaOm (one of my personal favourite tech blogs) about this very topic, to discuss, with my personal opinion, the current state of the blog. Thus, this piece is a sort of stream-of-consciousness, my thoughts arranged in bits and transferred to you through the magic of the Internet and WordPress.

As an “unedited voice”, blogs offer anyone the ability to share their view of the world with the wider audience of the entire Internet. In this manner, I think that blogging will move back to basics, back to its roots as a personal medium. The growth of blogging software like WordPress, and the ease of use of such software in setting up a personal website, coupled with the rise of social media and the App Ecosystem will enable more individuals to express themselves through their own personal homes on the web. Whilst the major publishing houses like the New York Times choose to return to editorial-focused journalism citing content quality as a primary reason, blogging will continue to be the casual, conversational beast that is always has been. And this is the perfect thing that a platform of a personal nature needs.

So no, the rumours of blogging’s imminent death have been greatly exaggerated. Blogging – at least in a personal capacity – will continue to remain an approachable medium for anyone wanting to share their ideas. It will continue to prove that words and ideas have the power to change the world, allowing thousands of people each day to write, clip, share and re-post thoughts and opinions, making the collective voice of the world that much richer with each press of “Publish.”

Could We Really Have a “Web 3.0”?

The buzzword of the past few years, used to describe the type of web that we know today – a web dominated by social websites and user-generated content – was “Web 2.0”. It seemed adequate in distinguishing this “iteration” of the web, encompassing the technologies, web standards and philosophies guiding a more connected web.

But the question remains: could we have a “Web 3.0”? And if so, what exactly would this type of web be?

It seems at present that what we have is working rather well for us. This generation of the web has connected our society in unparalleled ways. We can look to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and we see this happening on a constant basis. We see a constant stream of thought blasting through cyberspace from millions of voices across our planet. We see a web built not of websites, but of platforms: systems of communication that are far from what existed a mere ten or twenty years ago.

So would a Web 3.0 be something that builds upon the platforms created in this generation, or is it going to be something more radical? Perhaps a “3D” web for a generation that most tech companies and film studios think can only be sated by eye-sore pseudo-holographic imagery?

Or is this next version of our web going to be something a lot more subtle, a quiet transcendence of the web as we know it into a web that connects not only people with each other, but technology with the physical world?

In some ways I don’t think we can even classify the web using numerical iterators. The web is really becoming a lot more organic in its nature, a lot more flexible to the changing tides of our volatile civlisation. However, I am still curious and excited to see what the web of tomorrow will bring.

Facebook is More Than Just a Website Now

In what was perhaps the largest initial public offering announcement since the time of Google, Facebook finally announced that it was going public, and launched its portfolio on the NASDAQ yesterday.

Almost immediately after the announcement, its shares fluctuated quite dramatically. And cue the Internet noise as commenters from esteemed economists to the average blogger started speculating the demise of the social media giant.

Here’s what I think, though: Facebook has become more than a simple website. It’s more than a mere social network.

Mark Zuckerberg and his team out in Palo Alto have effectively built a social platform. The company has transcended from being a place to keep updated with friends from around the world, to a digital space that is set to connect not just the world, but the disparate network of websites and blogs that together generate what they call the “social graph.”

If anything, the future of Facebook looks bright. It has become a tool that we find indispensable on a daily basis, and in some ways offers a sense of connectivity unparalleled by other (more traditional) means of communication. The furthering of the social idea – by “staking a claim” of social space on other websites, and thus creating a more interconnected web – will serve as a bridge, if anything, to what could be termed a “Web 3.0” of sorts.