I miss the blogging scene circa 2001-2006. This was an era of near-peak enthusiasm for me. One of those moments where a random rock was turned over and what lay underneath was fascinating, positive, energizing, captivating, and led me to a better place in my life and career.
As is noted by many notable bloggers, those days are gone. Blogs are not quite what they used to be. People, lots of them!, do social media differently now.
Around 2004, amidst the decline of peer-to-peer technologies, I had a hunch that decentralized technology was going to lose out to centralization. Lo and behold, Friendster then MySpace then Facebook then Twitter made this real. People, I think, will always look to a Big Name first and look to run their own infrastructure nearly last.
In light of that, I still think the lost infrastructure of social media is worth considering. As we stare down the barrel of a US administration that is likely far less benevolent with its use of an enormous propaganda and surveillance mechanism, should we swim upstream of the ease of centralization and decentralize again?
Consider this chart identifying community and commercially run infrastructure that used to exist and what has, in some cases, succeeded it:
I look over that chart and think, yeah a lot of this would be cool to build again.
Would people gravitate towards it? Maybe.
Could it help pop filter bubbles, social sorting, fake news and trust relationships? Doesn’t seem worth doing if it can’t.
Do people want to run their identity separate of the Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn behemoth? I suspect what we saw as a blog back then is now a “pro-sumer” application, a low cost way for writers, analysts, and creatives to establish themselves.
Maybe Twitter and Facebook are the perfect footprint for someone who just wants to air some steam about their boss, politics, or a fellow parent? It’s OK if people want to express their personality and opinions in someone else’s walled garden. I think what we learned in 2016 is that the walled gardens are more problematic than merely commercialism, though.
That seems pessimistic. And maybe missing the point. You can’t bring back the 2003-6 heyday of blogging a decade later. You have to make something else. It has to fit the contemporary needs and move us forward. It has to again capture the qualities of fascinating, positive, energizing, captivating, and leading to a better place.
I hope we figure it out and have another great idea party.