Why I Won’t Stop Blogging

Steve Rubel announced last week that he was going to stop “blogging” in favor of “lifestreaming” (the sharing of more immediate snippets of micro-media), and this opened up some interesting discussion among bloggers, well-summarized here by Louis Gray (and I agree with Louis’ perspective).

Now I do admit that I am re-examining the tools for on-line sharing of networked communications, spurred in part by the expanded capabilities of the new iPhone, which will allow for simpler sharing of photos, video, and audio. I’m playing with Posterous as a way to have a one-stop media  distribution center (digital sharehouse?), and some of this definitely falls into the “lifestream” category.

But stop blogging? No way.

There is value in sharing a beautiful picture, or a quick audio, or an interesting link, or a snippet of thought. The conversation and easy banter on Twitter and Facebook is enriching, no doubt. But for development of thought, more detailed analysis of ideas, ongoing discussion of topics, and 360-degree expression of personal and/or business message – you simply cannot replace a blog.

We live in an increasingly fragmented world which encourages the development of shorter and shorter attention spans. I don’t see that as necessarily a good thing. Writing a blog, and reading a longer-form post by others, forces us to think, to develop a train of thought, to react to more detailed explanation and argumentation. I hope we never lose that. A life stream is one thing. A well-crafted blog, over time, becomes a thought-river.

UPDATE: Robert Scoble writes an interesting piece on the enduring value of a blog vs. the more ephemeral entries on micro-blogging sites. Plus, Chris Brogan on Strategic blogging. Both of these perspectives make it clear why blogging is not going away.

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Creativity Reawakened

I used to take a lot of pictures.

When I was single, and in the days of marriage before kids, my camera (a 35mm SLR for those old enough to remember pre-digital days!) was a regular companion. I delighted in nature photography, often using slide film (farewell, Kodachrome!). Did some experimentation with black-and-white, and some macro stuff. It was a hobby, a creative outlet, and what developed was “the eye” – I’d always walk around thinking about how some scene would be composed as a photograph. I’d look for pictures.

All that changed once the realities of career and children set in.

Sure, I would now take pictures of the kids, and, on trips away, the creative urge might re-awaken. But by-and-large, the impulse to see and create photographs was submerged. I missed the outlet, but I was immersed in other, demanding priorities.

My cameras mostly languished, little-used, as the creative drive was temporarily replaced by functional picture-taking. And my ventures into video ended up the same way – it was a lot of work to bring equipment, set it up, download and edit, etc., and usage was mainly functional.

When digital photography came on the scene, the remarkable immediacy and ease of use help bring about a brief re-awakening. I remember well the day after the birth of our last son over 7 years ago, when a glorious morning led to a flurry of lovely pictures in the scenic lakeside area that is between our house and the hospital. Nonetheless, the demands of life kept the creative fires burning low, and the quality of digital cameras still had a ways to go – especially as cell phones began to make picture-taking and sharing drop-dead simple.

Fast forward to spring 2008. A first generation iPhone in hand, I began to fall back in love with taking pictures. It was all-in-one, it was convenient and sharable, it had crossed the threshold of easy. Most of my pictures we were more on the level of friends-and-family, however – quick shots to share. Because the quality was good but not exceptional, and there was no ability to focus. The camera did not inspire an artistic and creative sensibility.

PurpleFleur smAll of that changed with the new iPhone 3GS.

For all of the many new and improved capabilities in the device, the most surprising effect, for me, has been a burst of photographic creativity. The camera is now higher quality, and allows focusing and close-up shots in an astonishingly simple interface. It now allows video capture, again with great simplicity and pretty good quality. And best of all, I now suddenly find myself walking around with “the eye” engaged, not on rare occasion, but every day and everywhere. Because I can compose quality pictures (and video) using an always-ready device, edit and share with ease and immediacy, and now I’m back to viewing the world the way I used to when I was a young buck with his Nikon.

I’m seeing pictures again. Eye and mind and heart are re-awakening to the world around me, which can be captured and viewed with a creative impulse unhindered by preparation and process. I get up in the morning, and often wander out in the yard, iPhone in hand, wondering again at dewdrops and flower buds, at shapes and sun and shadow. It’s not just an increase in technical capabilities. It’s a boost in happiness.

I knew I was getting a better iPhone. But I didn’t anticipate getting back something very important that had gone drowsy. A reawakening of creativity.

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Good-bye, Social Media – Hello, Networked Communications

So, today Steve Rubel announces that he is done “blogging”, and now is fully committed to a more full-faceted path called “lifestreaming.” His post is titled So Long, Blogging, Hello Lifestreaming!

What he’s doing is, in fact, not that radical – we’ve been moving rapidly in this direction for a while. Because the fact is – the real issue isn’t whether we “blog” or “micro-blog” or “Tweet” or “Facebook” or whatever. Those terms and brands are temporary labels we have for the early-on way we’re now using technology to…share. To express ourselves, and connect with others.

We’re evolving rapidly in ability to share, not just via long-form formats (books, blogs), but also quick thoughts, pictures, videos, music, and whatever else. Each of these things ended up with their own terms, and have been ranged roughly under the moniker “social media.”

I’d like to adapt Steve’s title to say good-bye to social media. The term, that is; which really isn’t adequate to describe what we’re doing. For some professionals, the term “social” is an immediate turnoff. And we’re sharing more than media – we’re communicating/connecting/collaborating in multi-faceted ways. There is a social element to it, of course, and media is part of this gig. But the term isn’t scalable.

So….hello, Networked Communications. That, in fact, in all facets, and no matter how it evolves, is what we’re doing, on both personal and professional levels. Whether it’s community-building, tweeting, sharing media, marketing, lifestreaming – it’s all networked communications (which, by the way, includes the off-line component of how we relate to one another).

We’re going to burn through existing and new platforms over the coming years, and they’ll get more sophisticated in their abilities to let us network and communicate. Whether it’s Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Posterous, blogs, Flickr (perhaps even my dream platform, Metamee) – the bits and pieces  don’t really matter, they’ll evolve and converge. Each of them is an Expression and/or Connection Engine, all enabling our brave new world of networked communications. Which is same world of networked communications we used to have, amped up on tech steroids.

We’ve always communicated. We’ve always had and built networks. Now we have quickly-evolving tools that will let us more effectively express ourselves and connect with others, for marketing, for fun, for socializing, for enterprise efficiency, for help…for whatever we do.

Good-bye, “social media.” You were a nice first love. You’re not going to die, you’re becoming bigger and better. But with upgraded capabilities come better titles. I’m moving on to Networked Communications. ‘Cause that’s what we do.

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You’re Being “Tivo’ed”!

tivocomm

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A Dose of Disenchantment

A note to all of us:

You knew it couldn’t last. You always knew, right?

Whenever we get our hopes up beyond what is realistic, we set ourselves up for a fall. Nonetheless, it is human nature to get “enchanted” – to think that something or someone is going to help us transcend the flawed and crooked, and reach new heights.

Now that the bloom is off the rose, and greater awareness has brought more undesirable elements (and attitudes) into social media, it’s easy to feel a sense of disenchantment. What happened to our nice little club? Weren’t we latching onto something that would “change everything”? (actually, social networking is changing a lot of things! -just not human nature…)

midasWhether it’s a significant other who turned you head over heels at first, then turned out to be a heel later, or elected officials who promise the world but won’t keep their word, the reality of our human condition inevitably leaves the taste of disappointment in our mouths.

I’m going to say that that’s a good thing. Not that we are so messed up and selfish that we often seem to have a reverse-Midas-touch, but that we face reality. I’ve run this track long enough to conclude that there are no earthly panaceas. Or if there are, they are immensely well-hidden!

However I, like many of us, remain an idealist. I aspire to higher and better. Yet I’m forced to be a realist as well. Disenchantment (with ourselves and others) is a fact of life. It can drive us down, but it should drive us forward.

Disenchantment means that you haven’t lost your ideals. It means that you want something better. The key is to embrace the discomfort of reality while still pushing ahead. It’s not easy. But let’s allow our temporary infatuations with nirvana to pass without becoming cynical or defeated by the doses of disenchantment. When we no longer have the capacity to be disappointed, we’re truly in bad shape.

[updated 6/25]

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(Image credit)

Why it’s Stupid to Ignore Social Networks

WhatmeworrySome folks who are immersed in more traditional marketing roles, or older-media journalistic endeavors, seem to enjoy dissing social networking, by focusing on the noise ratio, the amateur status of users, and the relative instability that comes with emerging technology.

We’re the experts. You need our filters. You need our apparatus.

No, we don’t. Many events have conspired to underscore this truth, but this past week in Iran has shown, in stark colors, why it is really stupid to ignore the power of social networks.

The raw news and heartbreaking images have been generated primarily by citizens on the ground, not by official news bureaus and spinmeisters. And if you haven’t noticed, that is occurring on all levels of society, in every country, on every level.

    Social networks provide immediacy.

    Social networks provide raw and multiple points of view, from citizen thought-leaders and just plain citizens.

    Social networks provide access to private details, some of which ARE the real news.

    Social networks amplify and multiply impact.

Laugh, if you will, at the “who cares what so-and-so ate for breakfast?” Sure, there’s trivia on social networks. But there’s also reality, and connectivity (and there’s plenty of garbage in the Triviaditional Media). I haven’t purchased a newspaper out of a machine for months, nor do I often tune into a live TV broadcast. But I remain quite well-informed without some official outlet telling me what they want me to hear.

There will always be a place for professional journalism, and professional marketing. But it will increasingly NOT be the position of supremacy. That boat has left the harbor. Social networks aren’t everything. But it’s very stupid indeed to ignore them.

(Alfred E Neuman image: Mad Magazine)

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Free e-book on Social Networking

ebookcover_sm2Have you downloaded it yet? Getting Started with Social Networking – a free e-book for those launching out into the social media world.  What’s Twitter? Why LinkedIn? What’s on “Opportunity Network”? Where do I begin?

Click to download: Getting Started with Social Networking. A condensed slide show is also available here on Slideshare.

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