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Friday, May 17, 2002

Blog Notes 3 - Blogging Is A Way of Thinking

Blogging is a way of thinking. Rather than simply absorbing information, as in passive consumption of broadcast information (including the passive web), Blogging requires that the blogger act as an active filter.

It's a skill that is practiced in a range of settings already; from cocktail party preparation by strong networkers to competitive intelligence gathering. Consuming information with an editorial eye and then redistributing it is the method that most social networks favor for maintaining their vigor. It is distinctly different from the eye-glazing flow-thru of data that characterizes the normal absorption process.

The blogger must, with some level of vigilance, ask the following questions

  • "Is this important?"
  • "Why Is This Important?"
  • "Who Cares?"
  • "What Does It Mean?"
  • "Is it worth explaining?"

It is no accident that some  (maybe most) blogging software contains a newsfeed (in XML, of course). The constant flow of ideas by the eyes of an active filter are an important part of keeping the filter (the blogger) engaged.

The fact the creation of a blog requires either a shift in thinking or a shift in attention for someone who already thinks this way is a limiter in the growth of public blogs. We are no more likely to see a blog on every desktop than we were to see a website on every desktop. The world is probably forever divided into producers and consumers.

Even so, blogging software creates an editorial envioronment in which it is easier to become a producer than ever before. The raw written communication involved in the process is something that simply gets better with practice. It's the way of thinking that makes the biggest difference.

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Blog Notes 2 - A Dozen Things We Know

Blogging is in a primitive form. The heavy users only know that it is possible. "Why?" is a question that awaits a claifying "How?" 

Here are a dozen things we know.

  1. Personal publishing has always moved from the grassroots out to society and blogging is an advancement in personal publishing.
  2. The technical ground beneath "blogging" (web services, net services or whatever you want to call it) is moving from the grass roots out (and not from the top down as Oracle, Sun, IBM and Microsoft would have it.)
  3. The blogging phenomenon itself is a market based example of a self-organizing system that appears to be producing features and functions just as they are needed.
  4. The growth vectors associated with blogging dwarf the original growth vectors of the Web in Phase 1 (circa 1993-1995).
  5. The sprawling, "static web" is in need of a function like consciousness that guides and focuses attention. Blogging makes that a volunteer job (in the sense that the great assignments go to volunteers who see risk differently than the 'never volunteer  for anything' set.)
  6. As was the case in early static web publishing, the egos of the individual contributors are larger than life so the story is exciting.
  7. In it's current state, 'blogging' is the product of technologists who are less concerned with "Why?" than "How?" although they grapple with "Why?" as content.
  8. Even as the technology finds its limits, applications are being unearthed. Knowledge-Logs (or K-Logs) are an underground phenomenon that may deliver what Lotus Notes promised.
  9. While the throngs of marketing professionals have not yet embraced the phenomenon clusters of influence are forming. That sort of infrastructure (the social network that creates technical momentum) has a longer half-life than the technical innovation itself.
  10. The first real beach-head in the maturity of the tool set will be the arrival of the "usual suspects". Although some from the "Wired community" are on board (see boing boing), expect near term entries from the standard digerati.
  11. The rhetoric is heating up. With forecasts like "blogs will overturn conventional media by the end of 2002" circulating widely, there is relative assurance that this thing has the standard 3 year adoption windup. As near as we can tell, it's still year one.
  12. Blogging is a nuance. If the Bugler, the Scripting News, the Electronic Recruiting News and EGR haven't been blogs for the past 8 years, it's the underlying technology, not the form. That said, the nuance makes the form accessible to a far broader array of participants. Automatic transmissions, which made automobiles accessible to the majority, were a similar form of nuance.
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