The Paparazzi Social Media Problem

The Paparazzi Social Media Problem

Summary: Jevon McDonald, someone whose opinions I rate highly, has posted a stellar piece on 'The uncertain future of Blogging' today.The idea of user-generated content was once almost exclusively owned by blogging.


Jevon McDonald, someone whose opinions I rate highly, has posted a stellar piece on 'The uncertain future of Blogging' today.

The idea of user-generated content was once almost exclusively owned by blogging. Blogging was the conversation, blogging was the vehicle, blogging was the network.

Now blogging plays a very small role in all of those things.

Jevon goes on to discuss how immediacy using micro formats such as Twittter and Facebooks updates update the inevitable latency of a longer form blog post. Jevon makes some terrific points in his post and I don't want to distill it down into the pre chewed format Jevon deprecates as 'media' - i encourage you to click through and read it.

I've never liked the term 'blog': the web revolutionized citizen journalism, and the blog format is in essence an iteration of a simple date format defined web site.

Now the immediacy of blogging has been supplanted by other more immediate formats, frequently at the expense of depth. There's no question that immediacy has its place, but we do have some serious issues of longer form blogging becoming increasingly sensationalized to remain relevant and get page views.

I sat next to Matt Segal, a professional climber, on the plane back from Europe yesterday - here's his blog, which is a typical vertical interest (in his case literally, check out the scary pictures!) destination. We had an interesting conversation about Facebook and Twitter and building up your own community.

Matt made the great point that when he's not climbing he spends a lot of time online; the idea of tweeting half way up a rock face didn't appear to fill him with joy but would probably make his sponsors happy.

We are in an increasingly paparazzi style world online in this era. Regardless of format length, with blogs being long form, Twitter short, the tech world is as much of a bubble echosphere as the star news hungry world of People or Hello magazines. It is also frequently as shallow.

There is obviously a time and place for this infotainment format but the perspectives needed for collaboration, something Jevon also knows a thing or two about, are predicated by a need for utility and purpose.

From the perspective of a collaboration initiative, whether a new product from a large international enterprise or a UNFoundation project, generating contextual quality content is king.

It is relatively easy to pontificate about a substantial foundation subject, which is what a good blog post essentially is, by reducing the subject down to bullet points or summary paragraphs and commenting on them. The big question is are you adding value by doing this or trivializing the original content?

If there is no foundation to your material, or you are parroting someone else's thought with no additions of your own, you are essentially clogging the pipes with noise.

I grew up using a bookcase full of Encyclopedia Britannica to help me with my homework; now I use the online Britannica, Wikipedia and Freebase to find foundational material I can rely on.

For an internal collaboration project we are essentially crowdsourcing material to be relied on by generations of users. Lightweight communication has a part of this, but only in relation to building a substantial shared knowledge base.

Building a substantial solid learning entity which will be of value to many is very different to muddling together a shallow lake of disconnected information. And like the image of Matt Segal climbing at the top of this post, it requires courage and dedication to pull this together, but you get a great sense of achievement as you climb ever more challenging heights...

Topics: Browser, Collaboration


Oliver Marks leads the Global Digital Enterprise Team at HP, having previously provided seasoned independent consulting guidance to companies on effective planning of business strategy, tactics, technology decisions, roll out and enduring use models that make best use of modern collaborative and social networking tools to achieve their business goals.

These are Oliver's views and not those of his employer HP.

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  • Every man and his dog.

    The problem with blogs is that almost everyone has one.

    The other problem is that most do not generate new content. The majority follow. Thus the rumour mill can generate some headline grabbing news, and in true chinese whisper style be completely blown out of proportion from the original story (if the original story was indeed true).

    Finally, what is everyone blogging about. Not everyone is a good orator, as I am sure most of us have been on the receiving end of a dullard who descripes in minute detail a complete itinary on their latest escapes of cockle picking. (or whatever)

    Not everyone is interesting.
    Me included.
  • A simple reason

    It all boils down to one's personality "temperament" (I like to use Myers-Briggs MBTI nomenclature). The people that are attracted to fast/short/glitzy are mostly Sensing-types. Uber nerds were quickly attracted to computers - and their cryptic programming requirements/quirks. These are iNtuitive-types. As the medium (internet/computers) became more mainstream, more and more of the Sensing-types got involved. Since Sensing-types are 75% of the general population (iNtuitives 25%), you can see the "direction" that this medium is going and will continue to go.

    Why are most magazines losing readership while rags like People get more popular? Same thing here.
    Roger Ramjet
  • RE: The Paparazzi Social Media Problem

    One of the fundamental values of theater has always been the ability of a society to talk to itself about itself.

    In ancient Greece, if you did not have the money to go to the theater, the city would subsidize your attendance. It was understood, that one could not contribute to the city without the theater experience.

    Social media/interaction is serving some of that natural instinct for collective intelligence and collective activism.

    One question that is developing:

    How does the fabric our collective experience provide the contribution that the Greeks expected from their theatrical interaction? Is it possible that we are creating divides in our society, by using the language of business and separating from those who cannot partake??

    Sal Rasa
    Sr.partner, im21(innovation/measurement 21st.century)