Ah, what a strange creature I am. I should have figured out something was wrong with me the day I stopped reading architecture magazines and started to buy The Economist. Go figure.
As it happens, they’ve decided to take a look at the current state of the blogosphere – The Evolving Blogosphere: An Empire Gives Away (spotted via Kottke). Well, then, the question for today is: has Facebook and Twitter broken the blogs’ monopoly?
The Economist makes the common mistake of mixing both. Twitter probably stands on its own as a short message web-based service. It successfully blends personal thoughts with special-interest news sharing. It has a simple and intuitive interface, it’s blog-friendly and integrates all sorts of external applications with remarkable versatility. It’s a sure winner.
Facebook and its siblings are completely different products. They’ve assimilated the blog dynamic and gave the user the possibility to engage in a personal network. Blogs have a slow growth rate and the blogosphere can seem like a lonely place sometimes. But blogs actually operate as networks, they intersect, they allow the user to control its connections and information feeds. The social networking world is an opaque digital landscape; it forces you to move within its own system. So Facebook may be good for immediate conversations, offering instant gratification within your group of friends and a misleading sense of feedback. Blogs, however, stand as a forum for individual publishing and personal expression.
These monsters of social networking probably stand as the greatest threat the blogosphere has ever seen. The reasons for that, as The Economist fails to apprehend, is not in the numbers alone. It’s not just the fact that blogs may be loosing their share number of online readers but that social networking is establishing a very different kind of web culture. Blogs started and remain, to a great extent, independent endeavours. They are public domain. Social networks, on the other hand, have seized the blog format and turned it into a corporate culture product. They are private domain.