AKA: The endless search for the one ring to rule them all
I’ve been blogging for a dozen plus years. But not always on my blog. The mediums have changed. The acceptable content lengths, structures and cadences have changed. But I have been sharing my thoughts, for better or worse, for a dozen years.
And as I look back on it, it’s all been done with the same intention, no matter the vehicle. Creating community through the public written word has been the name of the game, and using my written thoughts toward personal growth. Whenever one goal or the other becomes over-emphasized, the writing has suffered.
A dozen years ago, when I started, there was no Facebook to my knowledge. MySpace wasn’t taken seriously by anyone over 16. Forums and usergroups were narrowly focused. The blogosphere was social media as far as I was concerned. Comments, trackbacks, links and blogrolls were how people interacted.
Discussions were longer than they are now. People put more thought into what they had to say before sharing it publicly. Our attention spans weren’t as long as they had been a generation prior, but they were much longer than they are now. Of course, smart phones weren’t everywhere. There were distractions, but nothing like it is today. And each side of a dialogue would be longer than 140 characters.
In time I tried Facebook out and it was OK. Nothing to take seriously as far as I could tell, and even now I don’t take Facebook seriously. The only reason I’m even on it is because everybody’s on it. And I bet a comfortable percentage of people out there would say the same. I tried to blog on there, but it ended up as a pure social site. Which is OK. But meaningful interaction is the exception on Facebook, not the norm. Facebook is meant for emoting.
I have a real love/hate relationship with Twitter. You post links to the real content or tweets with as much tact as a drive by shooting.
The above paragraph was just under 140 characters. You can tweet it if you like. They say that Twitter will need to expand beyond the current 140 character limit to remain relevant. Um, guys, your key selling point is your limitation. What will differentiate you from your competition if you remove your key limitation? Won’t you just be Facebook minus the game invites? On the other hand…
Honestly, the best form of social media that combines thoughtful discussion with passionate interaction among people with common interests continues to be Google+. The reason Google+ hasn’t caught on to a Facebook world is because users are looking for the next Facebook, which is something Google+ never tried to be. And to those who will be defending Facebook I will ask, why were you expecting Google+ to be an alternative to Facebook? Are you looking for an alternative to Facebook? If Facebook is so awesome at meeting your needs, why would you be looking for the next big thing? I use both, but the style of interaction is different on each medium. I also have more than one tool in the toolbox in my garage. Crazy, I know.
I have a Snapchat. I use it only to do face swaps. And my dog won’t sit still long enough to do a face swap with me. If/when she does, you will know it immediately. Snapchat is a growing network and is based on self-destructing images. Permanent images of Instagram is too thought provoking so now we need pictures that will destroy their own evidence?
So back to the original thought. There are some among us who are looking for a way to interact online with others in a more thoughtful format. Every medium made publicly available either isn’t conducive to a thoughtful conversation or doesn’t already have a population of every one in your graduating high school class. It’s a different game now, and in order to get the best of both worlds I really think that a personal online presence is necessary to have a long form discussion. I have a self-hosted blog, but there are services out there that will host a free or inexpensive blog for you. If you use one, back it up regularly. It’s your content, your history.
What about the interaction? My comment area on my blog is pretty barren. By my site stats, I know my blog is read by others, but comments are few and far between, at least on the blog. The feedback comes on the social sites that my blog automatically shares to. The blog itself is the one ring to rule them all. I haven’t yet discovered a way for my entire blog content to go to the social sites, but that’s OK also. People don’t engage with long content on social sites. They just don’t.
I think Tim Challies is on to something over at his blog. He removed all comments from the blog itself, largely because moderating the comments was a task with diminishing returns. He updates social networking sites whenever a new blog post hits and he closely monitors his social media presence, both in quality and in quantity. And every so often he responds to the best of the feedback he has received on his posts in another blog post. I really think this is a brilliant idea! It gives his blog more of a magazine feel and allows for a pre-moderated interaction with the content. His blog is his one ring to rule them all. And in an ever-busy social media world, finding that one ring is becoming all the more necessary.
Here are my favorite resources for those who want to originate on their blog and seamlessly share to social networks. There are others, but these are what I prefer.
- WordPress can be configured to automatically update your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Path and Eventbrite accounts whenever you post to your blog
- IFTTT is a Swiss army knife for just about any major service on the Internet. You can configure it to perform a specified task whenever a specified trigger action is performed. The possibilities are YUGE! and continually growing.