Content and Connection Revisited, Again

Mashable Ben’s recent op-ed on Facebook, Twitter and The Two Branches of Social Media prompted me to ask two of my favorite questions. How does this fit in with what I’ve posted? How does WordPress fit in?

Ben’s two branches are social networks and information networks. They correspond respectively to connection and content. The correspondence isn’t exact: for example, I see connection and content as two elements of that mix in different ways in different social media tools, rather than as separate branches. I agree with Ben that the distinction between social networks (which emphasize connection) and information networks (which emphasize content) illustrates a fundamental difference between Facebook and Twitter.

WordPress is more about content than about connection in that it’s more for building information networks than for building social networks. But of course, WordPress is a platform on which you can build pretty much what you want, and social networking has already been built on top of it, in the form of BuddyPress.

Blogging Since 2005 (or earlier)

Look Back At the Last 5 Years in Blogging? That’s not a bad idea, and it’s what Mashable Josh just did. He did it well enough that I won’t summarize his summary, so that you’ll have to read it for yourself.

I will, however, add a couple of points. First, I’d emphasize the rise and fall of blogging more than Josh did. I’d say that, over the last couple of years, blogging has become part of social media, which also includes Facebook, Twitter, etc. Blogging is not currently the social media leader in terms of numbers. The number favour connection, rather than content, in that they show Facebook uber alles. (Yes, I may be exaggerating here.)

Then there’s the matter of the A-list bloggers. I’d say that some of them have chosen A-list-ness over blogging, in that they have turned their blogs into media properties, with most content coming from employees, contractors, or guest bloggers. Pete Cashmore of Mashable is an example. I don’t begrudge such people their semi-retirement from blogging, and I certainly don’t object if their media properties make enough money for comfortable retirement, but I sometimes miss their blogging.

I myself have been blogging since 2004.

Journalist, Curator: not real-time jobs

Twitter Lists: Journalism Becomes a Real-Time Job is the title of a very recent post by Pete Cashmore, Mr Mashable himself. My real-time reaction to it was that real journalism is not a real-time job, since it requires fact-checking – and maybe even thought.

Perhaps I was reacting to the post title, when I should have been reading the post itself. After all, the post title is about one-third of the maximum length of a tweet. The post is pretty much a pointer to Pete’s CNN.com article, in which he discusses “a new breed of editor: the real-time Web curator.”

Curator: that’s a word I see more and more these days. It has scholarly, thoughtful connotations. I’m not sure it fits well with real-time.

Wednesday Flashback

Once again, my review of the Wednesday-to-Wednesday week appears on a Thursday. Here goes:

Rumours of Surfing’s Death

Mark at Mashable proclaims that we can’t surf the web any more. Here’s some of the evidence he offers.

In the blogging world, everyone is concerned with PageRank and who gets the TechMeme headline, that they’re too afraid to link to someone that could be viewed as a competitor. At the service website, a certain level of hubris is required so that all links must lead inward – you allow the user to see a link that points away from your site, and you could lose that user, and blow your ROI (and if you do send them away, make sure you target _blank!). All of our web experiences become informational cul-de-sacs.

I don’t agree: as evidence against the above, consider the very blog is was posted on. Mashable itself is pretty good at linking, even to competitors – perhaps especially to competitors. And when Mark linked to an analogy between browsing and channel surfing, he didn’t tell my browser to open a new window.

And of course Google, still the success story of the web, doesn’t hesitate to send its users to other sites, and doesn’t open new windows when it does so. I’ll stop now before I describe Google as surfing 2.0, or as a smart remote control, or something like that.