Is blogging today fundamentally different to blogging five years ago? It’s a topic some smart people have been discussing recently. Darren Rowse bemoans the loss of relational focus where blogs have become more selfish in their participation in the broader community. Richard McManus notes that professional blogging reflects the mainstream media, including the negatives, in what he calls Mixed Messages in The Blogging Landscape.
It’s easy to be sentimental about “the good old days” of blogging, and I could wax lyrical about the community spirit that has seemingly been lost as blogging has grown up. Without being able to quote empirical evidence, take it as a given that the collective sense of community once shared by all bloggers in no longer. This is not to say that community doesn’t exist, but it has become fractured, splintered into group silos where most of the outward linking has been replaced by cross linking within a clique or no linking at all, where trolling has become an acceptable practice, and where the focus of shared experiences have been replaced by the differences that keep us apart.
Mark Rizzn Hopkins notes in a post today that opposition to Blogging 2.0 may be reflective of a more selfish blogosphere. I’ve written a fair bit about Blogging 2.0 previously here at The Inquisitr, but I don’t believe I’ve ever looked at the reasons why Blogging 2.0 has emerged.
Blogging 2.0 is the blogosphere’s first counterculture movement
The origins of blogging go back to pages of shared links highlighting great content outside of the site itself. Over time blogging evolved from outward links into points of content, and the linking ethos that shared traffic outwards was replaced by a culture that focused on inward links. Blogs as a destination for content became focused on pageviews, most often linked to driving advertising, and profit. Blogging as a unselfish act of sharing turned into a self-focused milk every pageview play, with a strong focus on search engine traffic. If in 2003 I had accurately written about what blogs would be like in 2008, I would have been laughed at, the shift in 5 years has been that dramatic.
Blogging 2.0 runs counter to the prevailing ethos in blogging, which is maximize your Google juice, your page views, your links in, and refrain from sharing that traffic with others, without putting the end user first. Blogging 1.0 is all about maximizing the opportunities for the blog owner while ignoring community, where as blogging 2.0 maximizes the experience for the end user (reader).
In focusing on the experience for the end user, via linking, sharing and enabling the conversation across many places, blogging 2.0 rallies against today’s accepted norms.
Embracing Blogging 2.0 isn’t costly
Giving up accepted norms to embrace a counterculture is never easy, and yet embracing Blogging 2.0 doesn’t mean having to give up traffic and comments. See my May piece on Blogging 2.0 and Professional Blogging. The short version: services like Disqus actually encourage more commenting, creating a richer environment for you blog. FriendFeed can help your content be discovered and drive traffic.
Conclusion: Viva la revolution
No counterculture evolved without an unmet need. Blogging 2.0 seeks to fill the void left by the evolution of blogging into a format that no longer focuses primarily on community, a less friendly space. Blogging 2.0 tools are still evolving and emerging to fill this void, and we are still fairly early in to the process. The growing popularity of everything from Twitter through to FriendFeed, Disqus and many other fine services show that people are seeking a change for the better. The counter revolution of Blogging 2.0 has just begun.