The Future of Blogging is the Future of Interpersonal Connectedness

I was asked by Joel Comm to write about the future of blogging for his newsletter, and here’s what I came up with. I’m republishing it here with their permission.
Joel asked me to write about the future of blogging, but the more I thought about that topic, the more it felt like asking an architect to write about the future of nails or hammers. There are small technological increments in metallurgy and even the shape of nails have changed in the last hundred years (not to mention the materials science that have made better hammers) but, really, I mean, they’re hammers and nails and in a hundred years the Jetsons will be using the same basic tools to make Jane her art studio, right?
Blogging is the same way. A weblog, at its most fundamental, is just a tool, a slick way to organize and manage the content on your Web site, both that which you produce and content generated by users as comments. In the biz, we call blogs content management systems (CMS) to remind us that it’s not Valhalla, it’s not a Brave New World, it’s just a software tool just as Microsoft Word is a tool.
I am sure that in the next few years blogging tools will continue to evolve, but what will happen is that the very concept of “blog” will continue to get more and more fuzzy as more and more ideas are embodied in the software systems, notably the popular open source WordPress utility. In the software world, evolution starts with the addition of custom hacks, then those become standardized as “widgets”, little plug-in applications that extend and add functionality to your site. Finally, the most popular widgets then become a part of a subsequent release of the main software application itself.
You can predict the future of blogging, therefore, by looking at what plug-ins and hacks are popular today, and those are almost all about spam control and the addition of social networking and social media capabilities. It’s no surprise that the best spam control tool in the blogging space is from the same company that produces WordPress either: Akismet, from Automattic. Sure enough, that started out as a separate application, then was a plug-in, and is now integrated into the WordPress (and Movable Type) blogging applications.
Social networking is still a mess, however, with lots of duplicate functionality and many, many companies trying to solve a facet of the fundamental human question of How Can We Connect? From the shared bookmarks of De.licio.us to the popularity contest of Digg, the collegiate interpersonal networking of Facebook to the ceaseless stream of trivia big and small on Twitter, all social media elements are migrating into blogging content management tools, along with the ability to register users, rate them based on community feedback votes and number of comments, and allow your blossoming community to grow through interpersonal links and connections.
The future of blogging, in other words, isn’t blogging. It’s a grand web of social elements that will make sense and be wonderful on some well organized sites, but overwhelming and baffling on other sites. It’ll be a foundational element of the new, more highly connected Web that’ll be a pervasive part of our lives, be it on our mobile devices, our transportation or our homes and offices.
Are you ready?

3 comments on “The Future of Blogging is the Future of Interpersonal Connectedness

  1. I have felt from the start that a “blog” is a slightly more interactive web page and not a whole new anything. Many blogs are not even interactive, there just a webpage/ website. I guess it’s a process that may differ from typical content implementation but not by much. There are the feeds, but those have been around for a decade or more, right?
    I find Twitter to be a gimmick right from the design get go and not very useful for anything other than gossip.
    I do like the new YouTube video tools, those are very useful for small business online.
    Just some random thoughts for your blog so it can be more than just a web page!

  2. Enjoyed your post, Dave! Blogging and social networking will lead to a reputation based interaction at several levels. After all, isn’t our most valuable “possession” our reputation? I agree that social networking is a mess but will eventually shake out. I don’t know what we will be left with but it is exciting to watch its birth.
    Funny how the advent of broadband ubiquity and social networking (Web 2.0?) will have even more impact on our lives than the creation of the Internet itself.

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