The Paparazzi Social Media Problem

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.
Written by Oliver Marks, Contributor


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...

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