Twitter Killed My Blog and Comments Killed Our Links [en]

I hope the provocative title grabbed your attention.

Let me say it straight out: my blog is not dead, neither are our links.

But I still have a point.

Twitter is IRC on steroids, for those of you who have already experienced the irresistable draw of a chatroom full of smart witty people, 24/7. Twitter is my very own IRC channel, where I do not have to hear those I do not care about. It’s less geeky than IRC, which means that many of my “online spaces” collide there.

It’s intoxicating. I love it. I can spend all day there.

But that’s not why I would provocatively say that it has killed my blog. Twitter is a content-sharing space, not just a super IRC channel. Found an interesting link? Five years ago, it would have morphed into a blog post, because that was pretty much the only way to share it. Nowadays, dump it in Twitter. Arrived safely at destination? Again, 5 years ago, blog post. Now, tweet.

New tools have an impact on how we use old tools. Sometimes we abandon them altogether, but most of the time, we just redefine the way we use them. This is what I was trying to explore in the first panel I ever moderated, at BlogTalk 2008 (crappy video).

So, no, Twitter did not kill my blog, but take a group of bloggers and give them Twitter accounts, and the temperature of the blogosphere changes. All the high-speed stuff moves to Twitter.

If you just look at the present, it’s no big deal. People are still connecting. That’s what all this social media/software is about, right? Connecting people. Online. But the problem with us spending all our time swimming in the real-time stream is that it’s just that, a real-time stream. Not much is left of it once it has passed.

Take this short piece about translation I wrote nearly 10 years ago. It’s not a masterpiece, but it’s still there, as readable as it was when I wrote it. Had this taken place on Twitter, nothing much would be left of it. Gone with the wind, if I dare say.

Many many years ago when I first started blogging (can you tell I’m on a nostalgic streak?), blogs did not have comments. Hell, I barely even had permalinks when I started. Permalinks were the key, though: they allowed bloggers to link to each other’s writings.

And we did. Conversations would bounce from blog to blog. They weren’t chatty like on IM, IRC, or Twitter. They were blog-post-speed conversations. We would have to think (a little) before we wrote.

Even though comments are a wonderful invention and I would never want to take them back, they did ruin this, in a way. People started leaving comments all over the place and didn’t come back to their blogs to write about the conversations they were participating in. It’s one of the reasons I was so excited about coComment when it came out, or services like BackType (which also seems to have backed out of tracking comments one makes) or Disqus. (Aside: see, I’d love somebody to hire me to do some research and write a memo on the current state of the comment-tracking-sphere and all the players involved. I could totally see myself doing that.)

With comments came less of an incentive to link to each other on our blogs. With Twitter (and Facebook), less of an incentive to share certain things on our blogs, and also, less of an incentive to comment, as it became much easier to just “tweet a quickie” to the post author (therefore making our activity visible to all our followers). And with the death of Technorati tags (I’ll call it that), we bloggers are now connecting to each other on other social networks than the blogosphere.

I think it’s time to actively reclaim the blogosphere as our own, after leaving it for too long at the hands of marketing and PR.

Bloggers, it’s time to wake up! Write blog posts. Link to your fellow bloggers. Leave comments on their posts, or better, respond to them on your blogs.

We don’t have to abandon Twitter and Facebook — just remember that first and foremost, we are writers, and that “conversation” (though ’tis a wonderful thing) is not writing.

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8 thoughts on “Twitter Killed My Blog and Comments Killed Our Links [en]

  1. Ok, here’s my .

    I’ve found that personal blogging has become much more about the ‘evergreen’ type of posts, or where one wants to write just a little more than what can be contained in a tweet. I became less and less interested in trying to write often (and admittedly often shallow), over writing less often and with more consideration and thought. So I guess it’s more about the writing than the sharing these days. This doesn’t mean to say that blogging is becoming merely textual rather than hypertextual, but that it has become more complicated. Often sharing is a function best done by powerblogs such as BoingBoing or others (which may not even be blogs anymore!), whilst the best value to be gained from blogs run by individuals with ‘other stuff to do’ is often from those evergreen posts. Or maybe that’s just my preference. Blogs still serve an important purpose in so many different ways that any discussion onthem runs the risk of being too narrow in its scope.

    One exception though is a shared blog to which I contribute which looks at Welsh perspectives on technology and the web. Here, it is important that links are a bit stickier than they are on Twitter, as it is important that the widest range of people get to read them. Twitter links evaporate without capitalising on their maximum potential audience, whilst on a blog with the right readership they can be digested slowly over a longer period of time.

  2. “All the high-speed stuff moves to Twitter.”
    “Had this taken place on Twitter, nothing much would be left of it. Gone with the wind, if I dare say.”
    I love Twitter for exactly the reason you say: immediacy. I get the sensation from posting a tweet that I have actually done / said something – when, of course, I haven’t.
    I interviewed someone recently for a research project who described his own posts as a record of what he was thinking at a particular time in a particular circumstance; he said reading old posts helps him see how his thinking has evolved over time and from where. Old tweets can show show what you were paying attention to at a given time but won’t reveal much about the depth of your thinking or even why you were paying attention to whatever you tweeted about.
    I think you are pointing to topics we need to think about, including why we write, the relative importance of permanence, the role of sharing and commenting in the development of personal thinking, and what I see as the splintering of community when everything shared is immediate. Even though tweets may generate more followers, am I really sharing and exchanging with them or just giving everyone who follows me a heads-up in passing?
    Thanks for the excellent post.

  3. Il y avait le blog. Mais twitter n’est il pas un blog ? Un microblog pour être juste. Il y a aussi qui permet d’avoir son microblog comme on a son blog. On peut l’administrer et permettre de plus long message. La limite de 140 peut passer à beaucoup plus.

  4. En ce qui me concerne, je me suis toujours opposée à l’appellation “microblog” pour Twitter et al. — ce sont à mon avis des bestioles tout à fait différentes, et appeler ça un microblog c’est passer à côté de ce qui fait la spécificité de Twitter… et du blog.

  5. This is a very interesting article. I don’t even try to use Twitter anymore, except to send links to my new posts to my readers that primarily use this channel of information. To me, Twitter is just noise that, as you said, evaporates very quickly… As for blog posts however, you can read them again and again like good books, share them with friends, let them inspire you for a new post on your own blog… It’s a very different story! I wonder what’s your opinion on the subject now, nearly 2 years after and would love to read a blog post about that 😉

  6. I still love Twitter and Facebook, for the exchanges there. But it’s different. I’m making a conscious effort to blog more, and not just settle for a quick share or comment in the real-time stream.

    Two years later, I think I stand by what I wrote. The same energy was behind the “Back to Blogging” challenge a month or so ago.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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