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.